Paths to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse

  • Self-knowledge
  • Love
  • Creativity
--those were the paths I took after memories of sexual abuse came to me 13 years ago.

Self-knowledge means not only finding out "what happened." In fact I, like many others, only recovered fragments of memory. I don't need all the memories to come back. More important, I see how the oppression of the abuse reverberated through my life and relationships. With love and creativity, I see how to change those patterns.

Love is central to healing. My therapist showed me unconditional love and regard. She taught me how to love my wounded inner child and all aspects of myself. Every day I learn more about how to be loving to myself and thus to the world.

Creative expression through writing, art, and dance has been vital for me to get the feelings "out there" in ways that I could observe and integrate. Sometimes it's wild and jagged, sometimes calm and integrative. Creativity is a flowing river of soul.

My memoir Beyond Memory details the process of using these three paths to come to a profound healing. It is my hope to add this to the bookshelf of memoirs. Most of them detail the abuse itself, while mine shows the life beyond.

Inner Safety after Childhood Abuse

When we’re abused as children, we learn to feel that the world is not safe. Often it doesn’t take much for our fears to be triggered. As I begin to shop my memoir to agents, making my story known in the wider world, I meet rejection and dismissal. Sometimes my Inner Child gets scared.

Through years of intensive work in therapy and on my own, I’ve learned to find a safe place inside myself. Yesterday I sent out another round of query letters to agents. This morning I sat in my rocking chair, listening to the little girl inside me. She wanted to be held and safe, so I rocked her. I told her how brave she is and how loving. I told her that we’re writing this memoir for other scared little kids living inside brave grownups.

I’m so glad that I had the help I needed to find this inner safety. It makes all the difference.

A Memoir about Healing from Abuse

I met with an agent last Saturday at a local writers’ conference. She kept saying, “But incest has been done. What is new about this one?” I kept saying, “But this one is about the healing, not about the details of what happened long ago.”

Am I wrong that this is new? Of the two dozen abuse memoirs I know, most mention therapy and healing only on a few pages. The last third of I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You deals with recovery, with a few therapy scenes. The proportion in Martin Moran’s wonderful The Tricky Part is similar. The Obsidian Mirror does deal intensively with integrating multiple, wounded selves.

What I’m writing is the terrifying, painful, tender, and loving story of healing through a deep course of therapy and through my creative process. Much of this was through Inner Child work. I felt more vulnerable writing the tender good parts than the awful ones. Perhaps that’s why few other people have written such stories. I think there is a place for this story in the world.

Please let me know if there are other memoirs about healing that I’ve missed.