I’m coming to you today with Rachael Maddox, Sexual Trauma Resolution educator and healer, to talk about healing with integrity! We discuss how your niche calls to you in unforeseen ways, where trauma hides in the body, and being a Secret Bad Girl.
On Monday, we spoke about forgiveness and spirituality when it comes to trauma. But instead of focusing on forgiving who harmed us, I think it’s more important that we forgive ourselves for the emotions we feel as we go through the healing process. It was not the clothes you were wearing, how much you drank, what you said, or how you said it. Abuse is abuse, and nothing will change until we make that abundantly clear.
So, to promote SELF- forgiveness, I’ve concocted a special ritual for victims of abuse (sexual or otherwise.) I think it will help to stimulate growth and strength.
Be well and be strong, for you are a survivor.
Rose Quartz (for unconditional love)
Rose incense or Sage
A water basin
Use sage or incense to purify the area. If you wish, smudge in a pentagram formation to call in the elements to help you through this. Also, use the smoke to cleanse your rose quartz of unwanted energy.
Sit in a comfortable position on the floor, with your white candle in front of you. This signifies purity. Sprinkle the black salt completely around you in a circle for protection, light the candle, and take out the journal.
Write down everything you can remember about your assault. I know this is difficult, but in a clear and objective manner, write down what happened. If you start to cry, it’s ok. Just feel through the emotions. Once you are done. Fold the piece of paper in half away from you and set it down,
Stare into the blue light of the flame and call in it’s power. Call in it’s passion and will for survival. Stare into the blue flame until you, yourself, become hot.
Take your piece of paper and set it over the flame, watching it burn as the memory becomes part of your past, and not who you are as a person. Before the flame grows out of control, throw it in the water basin.
Take the mirror, and stare into your eyes. Find the deepest part of you, and repeat three times:
“My body is merely a vessel, and no harm can come to my soul unless I allow it. I call in strength, power, and forgiveness to propel me forward into healing.”
Then put the mirror down, hold the rose quartz to your heart’s center, and imagine a pink light emanating from the stone and connecting with your heart. Imagine it slowly enveloping you in it’s radiance, and chant “forgiveness” as it grows.
Sit in meditation with this illuminating light for as long as it feels comfortable, and when you are ready, snuff out the candle, thank the elements, and break the circle.
I hope this proves to open the gate of healing for you. Stay witchy ( *)
Episode 3 is live! Here you’ll meet Kia Graves, a New York based producer, actor, and writer, who shares about her rape trauma and journey through healing as a single mother. If you’d like to follow up with Kia you can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and through Mountain Moving Studio.
And through some interesting research and my favorite podcast, an idea was brought to my attention. You feel unsafe for surface reasons that are obvious, but also a deeper biological reason that isn’t so: you haven’t finished your fight or flight response, and so discomfort is an underlying feeling in similar situations. And this covers all forms of trauma.
The Tower can symbolize trauma. A card of disaster and upheaval, this card from the outside looks like doom. However, like all things in the tarot, and all things in life, there is ALWAYS a way to move through.
Trauma stores in your body like a parasite. And your fight or flight responses, your mammalian brain, always tries to rectify that. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally have slept with many a drunk stranger trying to correct what I thought I did wrong. And I always woke up feeling guilty because I couldn’t remember if the choice was mine or not. I was trying to rectify a sexual trauma with promiscuity.
In my case, my trauma (having happened while I was near to black out drunk) lives in my body and tries to mirror my traumatic situation in order to complete its fight or flight response. That means that, when out partying when I was not getting help, I would go up to strangers and flirt, using my mammalian brain to recreate a similar situation so I can fully act out my fight or flight, quenching the animalistic need to do so.
It’s almost like when you reboot a computer, but an application is still running so it won’t let you do so. That application is still trying to finish its job, but can’t move forward because you’re trying to shut everything down. By ignoring the application, you’re actually doing harm to the system and slowing down the progress, aka, your end goal.
What needs to happen, on the other hand, is addressing the situation head on. If you have lived through any kind of trauma (and that could look like anything, be it a divorce, rape, death, or something that isn’t textbook traumatic but simply made an impression on you) there needs to be an acceptance of what happened before you can move through it.
But what if you don’t know if you have trauma? What if something is holding you back underneath the surface but you don’t even realize it’s there? You don’t even realize it’s traumatic? Well I suggest this first: if you are engaging in unhealthy behaviors consistently, I ask you to dissect the context. When do you reach for that drink? When do you shop to numb out? When do you clean excessively? When you get curious about your habits, you will embark on a new mystery: solving the case of the root and not the symptom.
This is where you are guided by The Star. This is a card of transformation and healing, a reminder that you will always have the universe surround you and that you will never be alone in this world. Use this as your guide through the pain and into a lighter and brighter future.
Get curious. Address your feelings. Do not be afraid to indulge in your sadness, pain, or fear. They exist because you are human and you are a survivor. But in order to heal and move through, in order to rectify your trauma, you must ask the tough questions and accept the truth you find. Find your truth and stay witchy ( *)
The Eight of Swords depicts a feeling of powerlessness, and nothing will make a person feel more powerless than sexual trauma. It’s an indescribable feeling of emptiness from abuse, but it is not the way one has to feel forever.
When one holds sexual trauma in their body, they will react to triggers. I’ve written about triggers before, but when you have been abused in a way that involves sex, intimacy with a partner is going to be a bit of a struggle. It can look like an unquenchable thirst, a sheer reluctance, or an all together abstinence. And with one of the definitive qualities of a sexual relationship versus a friendship being, well, sex, that can prove to be a bit of an adjustment.
First and foremost, anyone who has been sexually assaulted must seek out help and support however and whenever they can. It is a complete must and the avoidance of it will show up in very compromising ways. Mine showed up as codependency, as you’ve read in my previous post. But what if you’ve sought out the help, have been doing the work, and you get triggered during sex with your partner? What then?
Well this may come as a no-brainer to most of you, but it certainly wasn’t to me; in that very moment when you are triggered, you must stop whatever sexual act and breathe. You need to step away from the situation and take a minute to give yourself some time. Your feelings are perfectly valid and you need to re-calibrate yourself with the reality that you are in now. And as soon as you’ve given yourself some time to get to a calm state, you must have a conversation with your partner.
Whether they know about your trauma or not, whether you want them to or not, you need to set a boundary. Maybe the act was too hard, too fast, maybe he/ she said something that acted as a trigger, whatever the case may be, you need to express that you did not like what happened and that it is not allowed to happen again. This will be an act in self protection and self respect, and I can think of no where more deserving to be respected than in the bedroom. This is a place of safety and intimacy, and though you were wronged and abused in the past, you have always deserved that.
Now you don’t have to completely spill your heart out and tell your whole story, but if you want to then you should. Your partner should respect your wishes and listen to your boundaries, and if it becomes an argument, I suggest finding another partner. Your body is sacred, and it took me a long time to figure that out.
You do not owe anyone sex. And after a sexual assault, you’re going to need some time to work back into a feeling of safe intimacy. It is a confusing process, but creating sexual boundaries and honoring what you need from your partner will help you to get back to a safe place.
It is imperative that you feel comfortable with sex. Sex is a beautiful and natural act, and with someone you love can be completely fulfilling. And wherever you are in your recovery, you will find that unless you feel comfortable, it should not exist in the equation. Take care of your beautiful bodies and stay witchy ( *)
More than an article to provide advice, this blog post comes to you as sort of a realization piece, courtesy of my recent trip and a conversation with my sister. Hopefully this can additionally add insight to someones life who may need it, however, this is meant more to be an exercise in self exploration.
Here at WitchyWisdoms, I write about my relationship with a heroin addict at length. I also use to word “codependent” to often describe myself and my struggles. But reflecting away from the self-help jargon has actually brought me to a different understanding, and it is becoming more and more clear that I am not a definitive codependent, but was one in a vacuum.
Let me elaborate: as a person who has struggled a lot with self love, self acceptance, anxiety, and depression, I have had many instances where I would exhibit reckless behavior to get attention. However, my happiness growing up was not contingent on that of another. My happiness was lost in the shuffle, and I would look for it in many different forms of addiction. Where codependency is more of a trait than an isolated incident, it was not ever something I embodied until recently.
After my rape, I felt used and unwanted. I felt as though I should be discarded because I was tainted. And at that very moment, my knight in shining armor, or rather a sheep in wolf’s clothing, stepped in and made me feel like I was deserving of love. This is where the vacuum begins.
Through a seemingly necessary dependence on him, because I now owed him my life and happiness, I could not risk losing him. And he played the game very well. Rich with manipulation and emotional abuse, he guided me through a very codependent moment in my life. But once I sought out help, did some digging, and did the work, it almost seemed crazy that I ever fell for his games. It seemed like he had dated another person entirely.
And that is what usually happens in recovery. Once you look back at the person who you once were, they seem unrecognizable to you. But in my case, and what my sister, who has seen me grow up in various stages, helped me to realize, is that I didn’t struggle with codependency before him, nor do I now. This isn’t something that is a hurdle for me to jump over. But given my circumstances and a perfect storm of feeling alone and down-trodden, I exhibited text book codependency.
Now this is not to serve to look down on anyone who is codependent. I have my very rich share of troubles that I continue to work on, but this just isn’t recurring. It is helpful to see what your journey looks like from a realistic angle, because spending time working on something that isn’t an issue for you is not beneficial. And while, at the time, group meetings and books on codependency helped me tremendously, it helped the symptom of the underlying issue, which is most certainly trauma from sexual abuse. This year I will be searching out trauma counseling, and I look forward to sharing my progress with you all. Stay healthy and happy witches ( *)
If you can’t open the link (or just don’t want to) here is the short synopsis:
A woman was groped on a high traffic block in New York City’s East Village, and when she turned to confront her attacker, she was mercilessly beat before the attacker fled.
I hope I don’t need to express WHY this is so horribly disgusting.
A similar situation happened to me not too long ago, and, as a writer, I penned a short statement in my notes as I was shaking on the train on the way to work. Here is what I wrote:
This morning I was sexually assaulted in broad daylight.
A man came swiftly behind me and stuck his hand up my skirt. Without hesitation, I took my phone that was in my hand, encased in the largest case in America, and smacked him across the face.
He said “sorry” and ran away before I could grab him by the collar and take him to any policeman I could find. And while he got a nano-second thrill, I was left shaking and afraid.
I am still so shaken up by this event that I can’t think straight. I’m angry, I’m scared, I’m scarred, I’m hurt. But most of all I’m disappointed.
This shit HAS TO STOP. Every day I see men demoralizing women and it is not ok. WE ARE HUMANS. WE ARE EQUALS.
WE ARE NOT OBJECTS.
Now, my reaction to swing was a gut instinct. I feel that I need to protect myself by any means necessary, and I swing when I feel threatened. It was not thought of, nor do I condone violence, but it was merely a fight or flight mechanism. I fought. However, afterwards I couldn’t move because I was shaking so badly.
When this woman turned in a righteous action to defend her womanhood, she was beat down by a sick bastard who defended his right to treat her like a piece of meat. This is the type of shit that makes women feel helpless and afraid.
Now unfortunately I am no stranger to sexual abuse. This is an all too familiar occurrence for me and many women I know. I have worked through a lot of my emotional issues regarding these problems, but when things like this keep happening to women, it’s hard not to feel afraid and harvest some aggression towards men.
When I was sexually assaulted on the street, it took me down to my lowest level. Every piece of confidence was stripped from me and I felt naked and exposed. Anyone that sees me on a daily basis knows that that is NOT my personality. I am big, bold, and brassy on any given day. But when someone is treated as an object, its almost impossible not to feel objectified.
I hate that my attacker had that power over me. And this is why I immediately talked it through and wrote about it. Because I needed to take myself back.
People. We just made history. For the first time, a woman has been nominated the presidential candidate for a major party. It took far too long, in my opinion, but at least its damn progress. And we still have such a long way to go in the way we treat women. Men are congratulated for their sexual escapades, while women are treated like sluts. Men are forgiven for their taking advantage of women, and women are blamed for enticing men. Men are allowed to wear whatever they want, and women are either scrutinized for not being sexy enough, or for dressing to provocatively.
Men and women alike need to work together to end this abuse. Women, we need to band together to fight back, stop something when we see it, raise our boys right, and fight for respect whenever we can. Men, you need to remember that your mothers, your sisters, and your daughters are women. Would you ever treat them as an object, or subhuman?
As an avid feminist, I could go on forever on this topic. Instead, I’m going to invite you to do something to start making a difference in sexual abuse towards women.
Well, if you feel compelled to do something, ANYTHING, in the hopes of gaining justice for this woman, and every woman out there, you can sign this petition from Change.org to remove Judge Aaron Persky from the bench for his clear leniency towards white male privilege and against women’s rights.
EVERY SINGLE DAY women are sexually abused and assaulted. We are treated less than. We are snubbed by our male counterparts when we don’t use our sexuality to get ahead. We are judged when we do. We are called bitches when we are strong. We are called bitches when we get stuff done (thank you Tina Fey). We are called bitches when we turn down sexual advances. This is a battle that we seemingly cannot win. But, in fact, we absolutely can. It starts with us, and again EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Lets make a promise to ourselves and to others right now that we will do everything in our power, no matter how small or how big, to end discrimination towards women. Stay strong. Stay feminists. Stay bitchy. And stay witchy. ( *)