By Dr. Lauren
With so much going on today about male privilege and power and the thousands of years of abuse – sexual and otherwise of that power – I wanted to write a little bit about how sexual violence affects women psychologically. Toxic masculinity (as it has so aptly been coined) that is endemic in our society affects us all but none more than those of us who have been traumatized by men.
I too was brutally assaulted when I was just a teenager and like many of women’s stories you hear today, I didn’t tell anyone about it till much later. I didn’t have a family I trusted would believe me and, more importantly, I blamed myself. Fueled by our shame-based culture’s messages that implicate women particularly when it comes to sexual assault. I lived with this false guilt for years and it affected me in a myriad of ways.
It fueled years of drinking, drug use and sexual acting out. I hated myself, needing to numb out and unable to have a healthy romantic relationship. It took me years of therapy, being believed, psychology school, women-centric therapy, and years of work on my dysfunctional relationship patterns to heal my broken heart and change every way I related to love.
For me this does not mean rejecting everything that is masculine – healthy masculinity does exist and for many women it may be you are married to a wonderful man who is not threatened by female equality and power, it may be in the way you raise your son – to understand women from an empathic perspective – or it may be the way you connect to your own inner masculine traits that come out through your strength, determination, and courage.
The point is – women embody a beautiful mix of the feminine and masculine – something our world needs to embrace to gain greater wisdom and mental health and is an important part of our power and place in the world.
But it is also crucial we heal any past sexual or emotional trauma we have endured from an assault(s) or from our misogynistic, heterocentric, racist, homophobic, trans/genderphobic world – as our revolutionary movement continues to expose – we must heal if we are to truly show up for ourselves and our life
If you are wanting to live your dream life that I know you can have and deserve – it is crucial you look under every rock and get the support you need to look at those shadowy places so you can heal and rise to your greatest potential.
Signs you might need to heal some parts of yourself before to become your authentic self:
- You have trouble receiving love authentically – you unconsciously or automatically reject it
- You fall in love but once the honeymoon is over feel yourself losing interest quickly
- You have dreams for a different or new career but find yourself stuck, immobile or undeserving about it
- You find yourself triggered by all that is going on in the news concerning the Kavanaugh situation, sexual assault and the #MeToo movement (all of us might be triggered – how much are you?) and don’t know what to do
- You are challenged by your friendships with other women
- You have a hard time regulating your own nervous system – what we call self-soothe and your routinely look to people, substances, food, shopping to regulate your system
During this difficult time, I encourage you practice your self-care tools – get that toolbox out and use whatever works for you – therapy, journaling, baths, massages, and/or processing with a safe person. As the world continues to awaken to the reality of toxic masculinity and patriarchal control – self-care and healing trauma is a key piece to your own awakening.