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Tools to Help a Survivor of Ritualistic Childhood Abuse

22 Oct

Question:

Thanks so much for writing the Invisible Heroes book.  I'm a survivor of childhood ritualistic sexual abuse, and suffer from posttraumatic stress, panic attacks, bipolar illness, and DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder).

This book has helped me to understand what is happening to me and will hopefully help my husband understand what I'm dealing with as well.

My therapist has discovered that EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) triggers me badly, but I respond well to guided imagery and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), so we are using this combination to help me get through my issues.

My question is: do you have anything that is specifically written for survivors of sexual abuse? Or is there something that you would recommend for a survivor of childhood sexual ritualistic abuse?

PS. I checked do not post my message on healthjourneys… but you may post it PROVIDED YOU DON'T USE MY NAME.

Thanks.
Calista

Answer:

Dear Calista,
I'm very glad to hear that the book has been a help. That was my hope in writing it.  

Actually, in writing that book, I wound up speaking extensively with 4 different survivors of ritualistic childhood abuse – those conversations were very helpful and illuminating.  

Up until then, I had no idea that this kind of abuse was so prevalent - especially in the Midwest.  All four of these survivors, you'll be pleased to know, are doing really well now, and three of them have become counselors in their own right.  They still occasionally get triggered and have their moments of distress, but they don’t last, they have the skills to manage them and get past them, and, most importantly, these transient symptoms don't define who they are any more. Very inspiring people!

To answer your question, Peter Levine has some gentle, effective guided meditations for childhood sexual abuse - called Sexual Healing. Also, if you like working with EFT and similar tapping techniques, Mary Sise's video is a terrific resource to increase your skills with that on your own.  She entitles it 'Thought Field Therapy' but it looks and sounds just like an EFT protocol to me.

As for books, there's the new, updated version of Courage to Heal, the classic by Laura Davis and Ellen Bass. I believe there's an accompanying workbook, too.

And I found Jasmin Lee Cori's book, Healing from Trauma: A Survivor's Guide, positively lit from within with insight, kindness and grounded guidance.  

And although my imagery is written for survivors of any sort of trauma, it does work well with childhood abuse survivors, including the kind you suffered through. So you may want to work with either the Healing Trauma imagery or the 3-CD set that was designed to pretty much accompany Invisible Heroes:  it’s called Guided Imagery for the Three Stages of Healing Trauma: Nine Meditations for Posttraumatic Stress.

I hope this is helpful.  Wishing you the very best,

Belleruth

p.s.  Rest assured we always change names when posting questions or personal stories, unless specifically asked not to. 

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award