2011 July August
The disturbing stone; the hidden pain of sexual abuse
Imagine a still blue lake on a calm day; a light breeze is blowing and the birds are merrily chirping away in the nearby trees. It’s an ordinary day in the lifetime of this lake, with the slight ebb and flow of water on its shore; nature is just taking its course. After a while, someone is noticed standing nearby on the shore. He has been on the shore before, quietly and unobtrusively walking along. This time is different though; he picks up a stone and throws it into the lake. It lands in the middle of the lake, sinking fast into the waters. It has all happened so fast that all that is noticed are the ripples on the water’s surface. Soon the water will be calm again - to someone who wasn’t there when that stone was thrown, it might have never happened. It will look like that stone never entered the surface of that lake, but underneath, the stone will be there for a long, long time. Whenever there is a storm, it will be moved along the bed of the lake, stirring things up.
Now imagine a child, boy or girl, it doesn’t matter, going about their business, as children do, maybe playing make-believe shop or scoring the winning goal for ‘their team’ in the Champions League Final. They have no idea how long they have been out playing, but it can’t be long because Mummy always calls them in if they are out too long. They notice someone standing nearby, watching them, they have seen him before but don’t know his name. Daddy knows his name though, they went to see a football match with him one day, and on the way home he bought the child a packet of sweets, and Daddy said he was a nice man for being so kind. The man comes over to the child and chats for a while. He gives the child a reason for the child to go with him and the child does so. The child has been told not to go with strangers, but this man isn’t a stranger, he knows Daddy. What happens next is going to impact that child’s life forever; the man sexually abuses the child.
The child is the lake, the paedophile is the stranger on the shore and the abuse is the stone sitting on the lake bed, or in this case, is sitting in the child’s soul, forever. Every so often as the child grows, he/she will realise that something is wrong. He may or may not remember what happened that afternoon. It may be years later when he has a flashback to what happened that day. It may have only happened once, or it may have gone on for years. The paedophile may have convinced the child to keep what happened a secret, or the child may have gone home and told his parents straight away.
No matter what, that stone now lies at the bottom of that child’s soul and it’s going to cause some very difficult days ahead for them. As the child grows older and matures, the effects of the abuse will come to the surface. Every survivor of sexual abuse will be affected differently, but there is a usually anger, hate, denial, suppression, shock, grief and secrecy. The emotions that the victim goes through vary from one survivor to another but numbness, disbelief, anxiety, humiliation, embarrassment and shame are just some that will feature in a survivor’s healing. Each of these emotions is one ripple that was on the surface of the lake when the stone entered the water.
There are Rape Crisis Centres all over the world. At the centre in Sligo, North-West Ireland, it is stated “the pain of being sexually abused can be carried into adulthood in different ways. It can affect self-esteem, self-confidence and the ability to trust others. Often survivors feel they do not deserve to be loved or to be happy. Feelings of ‘badness’ or ‘self-blame’ may lead to abusive relationships or over-reliance on substances such as alcohol or drugs, to dull the pain. Often adults who have been abused have nightmares, or memories in the form of flashbacks. Many just want to get on with their lives and put the past behind them. Often life events such as a new relationship, having a baby, the death of a loved one or reports of sexual abuse in the media may trigger painful emotions and memories of past abuse”.
Rape Crisis Networks are groups that all homeopaths should be aware of and be prepared to refer their clients to the counsellors there, who have specific training in the area of abuse and can be a major benefit to survivors.
Lack of trust can be a major hurdle for a survivor to overcome, impacting on many areas of their life, especially their relationships. Who can they tell? How do they tell them? Will they be believed? Will that person tell someone else? Finding that one person who they can tell and trust is a huge undertaking for the survivor, because they have no idea how that person will react.
The loss of trust in intimate relationships can be lost, which can be very painful. The experience can cause promiscuity or prevent the person from becoming close to anyone. The memories & confusion of the abuse can be so painful that avoiding any intimacy can feel easier than attempting to deal with memories resurfacing from their past. These feelings can lead to the breakdown of relationships, causing the survivor to question why they have intimacy problems and can’t stay in a relationship; they may even question their sexuality.
It is a vicious circle for survivors, who really struggle with the vast number of ways that the abuse has affected their lives. The ‘lucky’ ones are those who have realised that the abuse has happened and that it is affecting them. The struggle for the survivor who hasn’t realised that yet, is difficult. They are like that lake of water that is choppy and uncomfortable, grey in colour, uninviting to others, with a disturbing stone sitting in its depths stirring up unwanted silt and dirt.
As homoeopaths, we are privileged to know that one of these survivors may at any time pick up the phone and ring us for an appointment. They may or may not know what the issue is with their health, but during the case taking process, they may divulge a secret that has been laying in their soul for a long time, perhaps for years, and the homoeopath may become the first person, apart from the paedophile, who knows of the abuse. This is a privileged position for the homoeopath to be in as they have the case-taking skills, the time, and most of all the remedies at their disposal to be able to start the healing process for the client.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Platform for Online Dispute Resolution of the EU commission: www.ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr
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