After 11 years of researching, teaching and listening to private testimonies about sexual violence, I have heard the majority of the societal stereotypes (rape myths) that silence survivors’ stories and minimize the depth of these traumatic experiences. Our national denial of the truth of this interpersonal trauma creates a false sense of safety that we use like a shield to cover our ultimate insecurity – which is that sexual violence can happen to any of us. Believe me, the unwillingness to face the reality of our fear is not shocking, there are many days I wish I could buffer my brain from the images that lurk just beneath the humble courage of this self-identified survivor. Still, there exists no phrase we can methodically repeat to ourselves, no drink, no drug, no physical exercise, no new adventure, and no relationship that can actually erase the memory of sexual trauma.
If we are lucky, we learn over a lifetime how to establish enough grounding within ourselves through the utilization of healing techniques that specifically serve us, so that we can develop the confidence to practice not resisting such memory and let what must emerge to finally move through and out of us. Whether our memories surface through emotions, through subtle and not-so-subtle physical sensations or through our dreams, we can begin to carefully explore how to allow, and ultimately, how to re-direct our pain into the life-force that cultivates the healing of a heart that is equally supple and strong. That inner power can feel like a flickering flame on a cool summer night – occasionally bold, clean, curved edges and extending upwards and outwards with the single purpose of enlightening the surrounding space. Often though, that flame is wavering, hanging on, and just about to burn out until the wind settles and it expands into and beyond its original fullness once again. That kind, quieting of the weather catalyzes the next wave of our relief.
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