The 11th Biggie by Leonard Orr
The trauma of physical and sexual abuse is a worldwide, often silent epidemic. It is estimated that at minimum 1 in every 3 girls and 1 in every 4 boys are abused by the age of 18.
In the US alone, approximately 30% of women and 15% of men were victims of childhood or adolescent sexual abuse.1 It is suggested that perhaps 40% of abuse is never reported due to denial, fear, threats, convenience, adults wanting to maintain their relationship with the perpetrator more than the protection of their child, etc.
Sexual and physical abuse are so invasive to one’s body and psyche, especially at a young age, that it is obviously a blockage to attaining physical immortality. The direct physical impact of abuse lodges pain and EEP [emotional energy pollution] into the energy body and physical body, creating a cellular memory for pain and dis-ease to take root. This trauma negatively affects all of the chakras; the entire energy body.
Infancy and childhood are the major formative years when the energy body, personal identity, and beliefs about the world at large are still developing.
The effects of physical abuse and sexual abuse on a child’s energy body are widespread.
The abuse directly affects the root chakra, which is our connection to the earth, kundalini energy, and primal life force. It impacts the second chakra, the creative and sexual centre before it is fully developed, imprinting upon it the energy pollution of the abuser. In the third chakra, the child’s personal power is overridden and replaced with the authority and superimposed will of the one perpetrating the abuse.
Sexual abuse or other forms of physical abuse are most often inflicted by someone the child knows and trusts, which additionally causes deep feelings of betrayal, confusion, and mistrust into the emotional field of the child’s heart chakra.
Often times the child is threatened and terrorized into hiding the abuse from others, and so shame and secrecy silences the voice and personal expression of the child (throat chakra). Physical and sexual abuse can also lead to mental anxieties and phobias, affecting the 6th chakra. Spiritually it teaches the child that love is betrayal, pain or even death, as levels of abuse can often threaten the very physical survival of the child. In the USA alone, 5 children die every day due to abuse.2
Children who are abused may experience intense feelings and threats to their survival on a daily basis; fear of their abuser, fear of causing trouble, fear of being taken away from their home, parent, or family; anger at their abuser or other adults around them for not protecting them, anger at themselves; isolation because they are alone in facing the abuse, tremendous sadness in the loss of their trust and safety; feeling betrayed by their own body’s responses to the abuse; shame or guilt for not being able to stop the abuse, guilt if they told about the abuse, guilt for keeping the abuse secret; confusion because they still feel love for their abuser, and so on.
Childhood sexual abuse has been linked to higher levels of depression, suicidal ideation, self-blame, eating disorders, difficulty sleeping, guilt, shame, anxiety, dissociative patterns, repression, denial, sexual problems, and relationship problems. The following is a list of long term effects associated with sexual and physical abuse trauma.
Depression and Low Self Esteem. Depression has been found by psychologists to be the most common long term effect of children who survived abuse. Children frequently take personal responsibility for the abuse because it came from an esteemed and trusted adult, and as a child, it may have been impossible for them to view the perpetrator in a negative light.
Self Rejection / Shame. As many children are left unable to understand that the perpetrator was responsible for the abuse inflicted upon them, survivors often take personal responsibility for the abuse and experience intense guilt, shame and self-rejection.
Self Destructive Behaviors / Suicide. Childhood survivors of physical and sexual abuse are more likely to be suicidal. Physical and sexual abuse condition a child’s state consistently that it is not safe or pleasant to be in a physical body here on earth.
Eating Disorders / Body Image Issues. Many children who survived physical abuse or sexual abuse develop eating disorders or body image issues due to feeling ‘dirty’ or ugly.
Sleep Disorders. The intense distress caused by abuse may also result in somatic concerns. Often time’s abuse may have occurred at night causing intense, subconscious anxiety around falling asleep.
Physical illnesses / Symptoms. There is a significantly increased number of medical issues in people who have survived physical and sexual abuse. Adults who experience abuse or neglect during childhood are more likely to suffer from physical ailments such as arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, high blood pressure and ulcers.3
Chronic Anxiety and Phobias / Post Traumatic Stress. A study revealed that the post-traumatic stress symptoms of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse were comparable to that of Vietnam war veterans.4 Approximately 80% of young adults who were abused as children met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by the age of 21.5
Dissociation. Some survivors of physical abuse and sexual abuse may have dissociated or ‘left their bodies’ in order to protect themselves from experiencing the abuse. As adults this survival mechanism may still kick in when they feel threatened or unsafe, manifesting in momentary amnesia, confusion, disorientation, numbness, or checking out.
This fear-response and inability to stay present in times of potential harm can also leave survivors open to and susceptible to further abuse and victimization either as a child or later on as an adult.
Amnesia. Often time’s children are forced to repress and hide the abuse that occurred. Psychologists believe amnesia may be a long term effect of this, resulting in memory loss from large portions of childhood, downplaying or negating the long term effects of the abuse, and feeling they should just forget about it.
Reduced Cognitive Abilities. Studies show that many children who are abused score substantially lower on tests of cognitive ability, language development and academic achievement.6
Difficulty in Establishing Healthy Relationships. Common relationship issues that survivors of abuse experience are difficulties with trust, feeling unsafe with intimacy, inability to establish and maintain healthy boundaries, and attraction to abusive relationships. A common belief and experience for adults who were abused as children is that those they love most will hurt them.
Sexual Dysfunction. It is not uncommon for survivors of sexual abuse to experience sexual difficulties in their intimate relationships. Symptoms are not limited to but may include; avoiding, fearing, or lacking interest in sex, feeling obligated to have sex, feeling powerless to say ‘no’ to other’s sexual advances, experiencing negative feelings such as anger, disgust, or guilt with being touched, having difficulty becoming aroused or feeling sensation, feeling emotionally distant or disassociating during sex, having disturbing sexual thoughts and images, engaging in compulsive sexual behaviour, and difficulty establishing or maintaining an intimate relationship. Women frequently report experiencing vaginal pain or orgasmic difficulties while many male survivors experience erectile, ejaculatory, or orgasmic difficulties.
Suppressed Anger. Physical and sexual abuse is an intense betrayal and disregard of physical – emotional boundaries and one’s personal power. Often times there is a wellspring of untapped anger in victims that have never been able to release the guilt, shame and secrecy that surrounded the abuse. It is appropriate for survivors who have been blaming themselves to move through a stage of holding the perpetrator accountable for the abuse that occurred and accurately place responsibility on the adult who was controlling the situation.
The anger can then be transmuted into an emotion that can be utilized to establish personal boundaries and promote empowerment. In the initial abuse the child’s personal ‘no’ was disregarded. Moving through anger can help a survivor of abuse re-establish their healthy boundaries and their ‘no’ when it is appropriate, rather than remaining susceptible to abusive situations.
The Victim-Abuser Cycle
Unless the effects of abuse are addressed early on and healed with compassion and care, it often carries over into adulthood, impacting behaviours and habits.
Internalization. Many children internalize the blame, believing they are at fault for the abuse. This internalization can take many forms of self-hatred or self-rejection, leading to self-mutilation, suicidal feelings, depression, unworthiness, and low self-esteem.
After years of this negative self-image many victims of abuse end up avoiding people and relationships in general because they feel they have nothing to offer. This leads to a life of intense loneliness, inability to connect and enjoy healthy relationships, and the susceptibility of falling prey to abusive relationships that feed off of their vulnerability and low self-esteem.
When the pain of abuse is internalized, the insidious energy of abuse is turned inward and continues to ‘torture’ the person from the inside out.
Externalization. If the feelings are externalized, victims of abuse can become prone to emotional outbursts of rage and physical aggression. Over 30% of abused and neglected children eventually victimize their own children.7 In this case the energy pollution of abuse is directed externally.
Drug Use. The level of betrayal a child experiences from physical abuse is so excruciating that often times turning to drugs is a common outlet to escape from the emotional, physical, and psychological pain. 66% of people in drug treatment programs reported being abused as children.8
Alternatively, drug, alcohol and substance abuse by adult parents are one of the main causes of child abuse, contributing to 70% of cases of child physical abuse or neglect.9
And so the cycle of abuser – victim – abuser continues on. -Until we step in and break the cycle for ourselves and future generations to come.
Rebirthing Breathwork and Spiritual Purification have the power to heal where words cannot. Rebirthing has the potential to release suppressed memories and stored tension, pain, and dis-ease from the effects of Physical and Sexual Abuse Trauma. It is time that we raise awareness around this 11th Biggie of Human Trauma, and advocate for a world where every child is safe and surrounded by a community of love, and where every adult survivor of childhood abuse can heal with the support of loving community, truth, and simplicity.
1 Roland, 2002.
2 US Dept of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, 2013.
3 Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
4 McNew & Abell, 1995
5 Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division of the US. Department of Health and Human Services.
6 Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division of the US. Department of Health and Human Services.
7 Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division of the US. Department of Health and Human Services.
8 Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division of the US. Department of Health and Human Services.
9 Prevent Child Abuse New York (PCANY)