In the past few years more and more women are having the courage to speak up about the trauma’s they have endured in their families, homes, churches, and work environments. And while it has been painful to see, it give me hope to see all the sexual shadow coming to the light for healing as it has been denied and buried for too long.
As a trauma specialist (clinical medical social worker) I have helped numerous women receive emotional support, validation, find safety, shelter, and receive the short and long term therapy they need to heal. I have had the honor of working with an amazing team of professionals—all of whom provide a highly effective wrap around service for woman and men in crisis or with histories of trauma.
It was important for me to include an article in Feminine Mysticism in Art about the history of women’s sexuality and the sexual shadow. I personally know several women who have been sexually traumatized to various degrees and I deeply understand the ways in which severe trauma changes people’s brains.
It is an honor to have several authors, medical visionaries, and sexual therapists who are experts in women’s sexuality and healing in Feminine Mysticism in Art. Because these issues are coming to the light for healing right now, I wanted to share an article written by Azra Bertrand and Seren Bertrand called The Sexual Shadow of the World. We also have another article that is just as amazing by Linda Savage PhD, Reclaiming Women’s Sexuality.
The Sexual Shadow of the World
The truth is, there is a hidden epidemic of sexual abuse in our world – that is eating away at our communities, destroying the heart of humanity, and ravaging our planet. We can no longer afford to look the other way or turn a blind eye. The recent sexual abuse scandals involving Harvey Weinstein in America, Jimmy Savile in the UK, and in the Catholic Church across the world, are part of a greater cultural apocalypse – a feminine root word which means ‘unveiling what is hidden’. We are finally seeing the hidden rot behind the false surface image of our culture. And before we point fingers of blame and shame ‘out there’ – we must know that this unveiling is gathering pace in every sector, every industry, and even in the family home.
These revelations teach us one lesson about the reality of sexual abuse, one thing we must understand if we want to heal and rebirth our world: most rape and sexual abuse is denied, hidden, repressed, unrecognized and unreported. What we see is only the tip of the iceberg. If we want to know the truth we must look deeper, we must be prepared to face one of the longest, darkest shadows of the world.
The scandals also teach us that a few brave individuals who break the spell of silence, who speak up and challenge the businesses, churches, gurus, media organizations, legal structures, health care systems, and family members who are complicit in the culture of denial – can create a new culture of truth and transparency that leads to tremendous healing. Our voices and our truth, especially when we come together, create change powerfully and quickly. This is the way our world will heal.
5,000 Years of Rape Consciousness
It is important to note that the mass collective culture of rape consciousness is not new, but has dominated the planet for thousands of years. In past eras, it was not even a taboo, as some women, and young girls and boys, were openly used by male power holders, including priesthoods, state rulers, politicians and family members, as if they were objects. These are the ancestral legacies still living on inside us.
Overt, culturally sanctioned sexual abuse still happens in many cultures of the world, but in others – such as the western world – the essence remains hidden from sight, repressed and kept as a forbidden secret. No wonder we feel an immense sense of cognitive dissonance in our lives. On the surface we are told one story, of caring families, caring leaders, caring organizations. Underneath is a completely different story, held in deep shadow.
We live in a tumultuous, difficult, yet important time in history in which the shadow is being revealed. Rather than a charming politician with slick wordspeak, our current epoch gives us an elected president of the United States who publically condones “grabbing ‘em [women] by the pussy.”  The air is thick with the stench of sexual predation and dehumanizing rhetoric. Actors cavalierly say in public they love their job as they get to “rape beautiful women.” 
Sexual Abuse & Mental Health
The same tidal wave of unveiling and revelations will soon sweep the mental and physical healthcare fields, which, at the moment, are still choosing to stay in denial of the true scope of the problem. When this happens, there will be a complete revolution in the way we look at health – and the impact of these trauma legacies.
Based on my twenty years experience as medical doctor, healer, researcher and community leader, working with more than 25,000 people, I have come to a very controversial, but sadly very real conclusion: sexual abuse is a huge, unacknowledged contributing factor in much of our physical and emotional illness.
The truth is that childhood developmental trauma, including a startlingly high incidence of sexual abuse, is a contributing factor to both chronic somatic illness and to many psychiatric diagnoses listed in the DSM-V, the so-called “Bible” of the mental health fields.  This includes depression, anxiety, borderline personality, dissociative identity disorder, and many others. The more intensive the trauma, the longer its duration, and the younger the age at which it happened, the more severe and chronic the psychiatric condition will be.
The same is true in chronic physical health conditions. Childhood traumas, referred to by researchers as “adverse childhood events”, including sexual abuse, account for a large percentage of physical illness, not just in childhood, but throughout our adult lives. A full account of this phenomenon deserves its own book, and indeed many good ones have now been written that detail the hundreds of medical studies supporting this conclusion (Scared Sick, by Robin Karr-Morse is one example).
Sexual Abuse Much More Common Than We Are Told
Conservative and well-respected medical studies state that around 25% of girls and 18% of boys have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18. [4,5] But, it is widely known that these reported numbers do not represent the true amount of sexual abuse. The actual numbers are significantly higher than this
In 2014, the National Academies of Science stated, “sexual assaults are grossly underreported.” At least 80% of childhood sexual abuse goes unseen.  Beyond the issue of non-reporting, childhood sexual abuse is often not remembered, for a number of reasons. In many cases, childhood abuse is perceived as so frightening, overwhelming and shameful, that an instinctive, protective amnesia and dissociation kicks in, and the memories are immediately repressed and forgotten. Or children may be given sedative drugs, alcohol or over-the-counter cold medicine, which blur memory further, with events lost in the unknown recesses of the mind.
If sexual abuse occurs when children are young enough, typically under the age of four, they usually do not have the neurologic capacity to form clear conscious memories. The feelings remain, but they are encoded in body memories and vague states of upset or behavioral symptoms that are difficult to understand.
In my clinical experience with women seeking healing for physical and/or emotional issues, the numbers are around 70% or greater who consciously remember sexual abuse, or who carry the symptomatic, behavioral and energetic signature of someone who has been exposed to sexual abuse, or who have this memory buried in their family history and lineage. The abuse can vary in intensity, from unwanted or inappropriate touch, voyeurism, leering, fondling, oral sex, penetration and beyond into the unthinkable. The more violent the incidents, the longer the duration, the closer the relationship of the perpetrator, and the more powerless the child feels to find support and safety, the more disruptive the outcome is to physical and emotional health.
Sexual Abuse A Common Cause of Borderline Personality and Dissociative Identity Disorders
Of all the mental health conditions, borderline personality and dissociative identity disorder, formerly “multiple personality disorder”, are the most closely linked with childhood sexual trauma (often compounded by other developmental traumas). A 2016 study showed approximately 45% of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder had a known history of childhood sexual abuse.  An older study reports this number to be as high as 70%.  As shocking as these figures are, we know that they greatly underrepresent the actual percentages. Of course, not every case of borderline personality will involve sexual abuse, and many complex factors contribute to it, but we must explore this possibility, rather than ignore it.
DID and Ritual and Network Abuse
In dissociative identity disorder (DID), a condition in which multiple fragmented personalities are present in a person, a history of childhood trauma is nearly universal; it has been found in 97% of patients, with childhood sexual abuse found in as much as 90% of cases. [9,10,11] However, the patterns of sexual trauma in DID present an even darker and more disturbing picture. Psychotherapists report that 25-50% of their DID patients recover memories of systematic, ritual or network sexual abuse – abuse carried out by multiple people in an organized way. 
Psychotherapy professionals who come forward to speak about the presence of network abuse in their patients and communities are generally disbelieved, mocked, humiliated, excluded from professional societies, and stonewalled from publication. Academic researchers who are professionally or personally invested in the climate of denial, or who are hired by the systems of abuse, have launched what has been called the “Memory Wars” – writing scientific papers that claim recovered abuse memories are a result of “false memory syndrome”, that these memories are not real.
But, 60-80% of practicing clinicians, psychiatrists and therapists believe in the reality of trauma-repressed memories, especially in sexual abuse.  They are supported by new neurobiological studies and PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) literature that proves the existence of repressed memories caused by emotional trauma, later recovered in a safe therapeutic setting. [14,15,16,17,18] It is now known that we can repress entire events or segments of time as a coping response to an emotional crisis.
Creating New Paradigms of Support
Because we live in a culture that is in such profound denial of the tremendous scale of sexual abuse currently happening on the planet, often, abused women do not receive support. Their traumatic pain has not been recognized, not held with love, not healed. Instead they have often been misdiagnosed, medicated or disbelieved.
Many men are also playing out their repressed childhood sexual abuse wounds, sometimes as victims, but also at times becoming the perpetrator, unconsciously inflicting their sexual pain on a new generation of children. Crippled by the toxic shame they feel, and lacking the emotional tools and cultural support to heal, they can perpetuate the cycle of abuse. We sometimes forget that young boys are also vulnerable, and almost as many boys are sexually abused as girls. In the Catholic Church scandal, 80% of the victims were boys, mostly between the ages of 10 – 14. 
Statistics of abuse for transgender women, women and families of color, and those in marginalized or low-income communities are also higher than national averages, and are compounded with complex cultural biases that hinder support.
Protecting Women, Protecting Earth
The magnitude of the consequences of sexual abuse are immense; not just personally, but collectively, culturally, financially, ecologically and spiritually. Anyone who has worked directly with women knows of the slow, painful, agonizing and courageous journey it takes to heal these wounds – how they are written in the body and the psyche, and how much time and energy it takes to reweave trust.
And beyond this, the Womb and genitals of woman – the sacred sites targeted and attacked by sexual abuse – is also the portal through which our vibrational blueprint as a race is birthed, our ‘world womb’. A womb imprinted with pain, fear, and disconnection transmits this pain to the DNA of their future children, epigenetically modifying the expression of their genome – until these womb wounds are healed. 
We are literally birthing a world of pain and suffering through hidden sexual abuse.
The developmental trauma (chronic childhood emotional wounding, or “Complex-PTSD”) that is a result of this abuse epidemic, is at the root of much of the world’s suffering, costing us trillions of dollars per year in health care expenses and lost productivity, disconnecting us from earth, and costing us the lived integrity of our true soul self. We don’t feel safe in our bodies, in our culture, or in this world.
As the body of woman is raped, commodified, abused – so is the body of Mother Earth. We are raping the very energy source that created us and sustains us.
Protecting women is about more than “women’s rights” – it is about the very survival of our species. If we defile and destroy that which births us, we will soon die out.
This current crisis of sexual abuse is an incredible opportunity to make the shadow conscious, to speak out, to take action and to begin our healing journey together. Collectively, we are at a prophesized turning point. We have an amazing regenerative capacity within us, biologically, culturally and spiritually. Our experiences of the past do not need to define who we become. We can invoke a spontaneous, regenerative healing of our collective body, and return to balance.
By Azra Bertrand M.D. and Seren Bertrand, authors of the acclaimed book, Womb Awakening – Initiatory Wisdom From the Creatrix of All Life, as well as Sophia’s Return: Healing the Grail Wound, and Sacred Womb Rituals. They are founders of the worldwide Womb Awakening movement, and the Fountain of Life Womb Mystery School. They hold annual in-depth Womb Awakening Apprenticeships, and share shamanic music on Sacred Sounds of the Womb, Elemental Awakening, and other albums. Visit www.thefountainoflife.org. Sophia’s Return, Seren’s personal story of healing from sexual abuse, is offered as a free ebook on the website: https://www.thefountainoflife.org/sophias-return-healing-grail-wound/
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