Saturday, September 22, 2012
The Art of Delivery in Dealing with Rape Trauma
Archive Category: Complex Issues | Core EFT Skills | EFT Strategies | Latest | Trauma | Troubling Memories |September 22, 2012 | Sejual Shah | No Comments
When a person is raped it often opens up such deep feelings of conflict that it’s not always straightforward how to help them resolve the impact of that memory. With EFT the process is so much easier as we neutralise each branch of the toxic tree, and then create the space to help them review critical decisions they’d made about themselves and their lives at the time of the event.
“Sarah” was raped when she was 14 years old. She had pushed the memory into a box and buried the issue not knowing what to do with it for over a decade. She came to my therapy practice for help with her focus in her academic career and the memory intruded again. Over the course of 4 sessions we relieved the extreme distress she had been living with at being raped and Sarah gained visible benefits.
The four sessions
Using the movie technique we started with the lead up to the event. There was anger at her friend, “Melanie” for leaving her with the attacker, and unease at herself for venturing beyond her normal boundaries.
Even though I’m furious at Melanie for deserting me when she knew I was so uncomfortable with his presence
Even though I feel betrayed by my own friend which led to a greater betrayal
Even though I had alarm bells ringing in my mind which I somehow didn’t heed
Even though I feel guilt for having this Little Miss Adventure within me that got me into such a desperate situation
Sarah’s first internal conflict was about having this part of her who sought adventure and excitement in her teens and had brought on such a distressing outcome. If she’d not had this Little Miss Adventure then she would not have gotten raped. This was a part of Sarah that she did not like and wanted nothing to do with. To an extent Sarah blamed herself. Such self-blame and the accompanying guilt had been twisting her up inside over the years. We tapped on her resentment of this part of herself.
Even though I feel so upset that Melanie can feel free to express herself but I can’t let Little Miss Adventure out.
Even though I can never express what I want, my needs are not important enough
Even though I don’t know what I want much of the time, what if I could start trusting in my own responses?
I made a mental note to return to this issue after we had cleared more of the distress about the event. There remained too much self-blame in Sarah’s thoughts to change her assessment of herself as yet.
We turned to the image she had in her mind about her attacker.
Even though I hate that man for being a skanky dirty ****
Even though his friend freaked me out by putting his head on my lap and then kissing me when I didn’t want him to
Inevitably we had to tap on anger at herself for not stopping the friend from groping her.
With situations of sexual violence where the victim knows the attacker there is further conflict of why didn’t I stop them? With EFT we can go in and tap through these internal arguments to bring about peace and clarity of mind.
Even though I should have stopped him
Sarah noted that talking about being kissed left a solid dull silver cylinder in her pelvis area. Tapping that feeling changed it from being significantly solid to barely there.
When we got to the crescendo of the movie, we calmed every mental image of distress that came up quickly and safely for her, sneaking up on each one to keep the process as gentle as possible. The small space of van that was disgusting and which he lived in. The dirtiness of his sheets. The shame and feeling of being unclean at him performing oral sex on her. The physical pain of being penetrated. Distress that she couldn’t scream at him at the end of the rape because she needed his help to get back to the centre of town as she didn’t know her way. The upset his throwaway comment created that he ‘didn’t want to get a 14 year old pregnant’.
However, the mental conflict that needed deeper work was that she couldn’t say no out loud at first although she had been saying it in her mind all along. The feeling of conflict left her blaming herself. It brought up a memory of her brother physically hitting her when she wouldn’t smile for a family photograph as a toddler. Her parents at the time acted as if nothing had happened but she felt hurt that nobody had cared. As her parents hadn’t spoken up, she felt thereafter unable to speak up for herself. Tapping through this root memory was important to overcoming the conflict she experienced in her teens.
We returned to the issue of being free to express who she is and trusting in her own judgment. Having cleared her conflict about not being able to speak up for herself, she found she could now use her voice to be clear about her needs. This from feeling she had no space for herself to speak up for herself.
Returning to the crescendo of the movie, we went through it several times picking up on new mental images that distressed her. Testing the work we’d done was vital to making sure she was free of its effects.
Even after clearing all the distress that accompanied her being raped, we had one final fear about the rape distress coming up again in the further work she wanted to do. We tapped on how she’d achieved lasting calm with other events we’d cleared with EFT so why would this be different?
When Sarah came for her next appointment I commented on her appearance. From not caring much about how she’d looked in her first 4 appointments, she was using make-up expertly applied, looking happier and more at ease with her identity. She agreed that she wanted to improve on her appearance and start enjoying life more.
As we moved on to work on other issues not related to the rape, that change in her appearance and new-found confidence remained. And the memory of being raped didn’t come up in the other work we did.
Five years later
I checked in with Sarah a year after our work, and more recently 5 years on. She continues to feel neutral about the event. She obviously wishes it had never happened, but recognises that it no longer has to hold her back. She has made further significant changes in her life to help her express her identity more freely. I love knowing that after so many years she is still free from the past, and has moved on with her life.
Sejual Shah is a Certified EFT Trainer and Practitioner in the UK. She helps execs with career growth and confidence issues. Since 2008 she has pioneered ways of delivering business EFT courses to large companies at home and abroad, and loves coaching other practitioners to do this as well. She is the co-founder of Business Energetics. Her website is www.healthyinmind.com