Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Sexual Abuse
Recognising How Abuse Imprints the Soul
It is important to recognize how abuse imprints the soul, because many people tend to think that it is mostly a question of repression that needs to be undone and dealt with. This neglects the structuring effects of such powerful impressions, structuring that becomes part of the victim’s identity and character. This means that to learn to fully be free from such history one needs to work on the structures that have developed throughout this abusive history and learn to disidentify from them, or bring them to a degree of flexibility and openness.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 170
Sexual Abuse and the Child's Trauma
Early sexual abuse has a radical affect on the development of oedipal narcissism and to the development of the self in general. The distortions in the oedipal self as a result of the psychodynamic disturbances pale in comparison with the alienation from the depths of the self that result from the dissociation the child resorts to in response to such trauma. It is well-known that early sexual abuse, especially incest, and physical abuse as well, create havoc in the psychic equilibrium of its survivors and become a major source of suffering and conflict in their lives. Sexual and physical abuse confront the child with so much pain, and such intolerable conflicts, that typically the child shuts off the whole situation from awareness. Whether there is amnesia or only emotional isolation, there results dissociation from the experience of the self in general. "Unable to remove herself physically from the abuse, the creative child victim finds other ways to be. Frequently this leaving takes the form of separation from the self, or ‘depersonalization'’” (E. Blume, Secret Survivors, New York, Random House, 1990, page 82) Since essential presence is the core depth of the self it must be dissociated from, or it will tend to expose the painful events in the abuse. So early abuse is a specific cause of the alienation from the core of the self, and hence leads to the development of narcissistic disturbances. Early abuse, including sexual abuse, causes not only oedipal narcissism, but other forms of narcissism depending on when it occurred.
The Point of Existence, pg. 376
Sexual Abuse Can be First Exposed by Deep Inner Work
In some instances, a sexual abuse survivor manages to stay in touch with a certain depth of the self, which may include some contact with essence. However, this can happen only at the expense of a deep splitting in the structure of the self, in which the individual has a depth of experience, but must employ, unconsciously, some radical means in order to remain unaware of the content of the early abuse. This defense is easily threatened by a variety of life situations or by the work on oneself, which leaves the survivor vulnerable to unexpected states of the dissociation and disorientation. Early abuse, sexual or physical, needs to be addressed adequately if an individual is serious about pursuing the process of self-realization. It is best to do some work with the abuse itself, at least to some degree, before commencing on the deep process of spiritual realization, but it can be done concurrently. Frequently an individual will not discover the abuse until going very deep in the work on self-realization, causing a great deal of suffering and confusion.