Meditation for Healing from Sexual Abuse

Aoife
Posted September 17, 2012 from Ireland

Shame is the biggest obstacle to the healing of sexual abuse. When the abuse occurs in the midst of a family structure it affects everyone. The combined shame of those who perpetrate, those who don't stop it and the victim/s is generally what keeps the enormous family lie in place. This is what has happened in my own family in Northern Ireland.

Until 2009 I was involved in a police investigation into my father and his friends for their paedophile activity. Unfortunately other victims have yet to come forward so the police have been unable to build a strong enough case to prosecute. Not finding 'justice' after so many years of struggling has not been easy but I know now that my job was not to find personal justice but to tell my story in order to protect myself and others.

I grew up in my father’s house in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Both the culture in which I was immersed and the tormented mind of my father created a permanently volatile environment. Bombs went off, town centres were blown up, teenagers were shot and I was raped and tortured by my father and, later, his friends.

I would see my mother from time to time but she was prone to nervous breakdowns, big highs and lows, and disappearing for sometimes years at a time. We lived with her for the two years around my transitioning into secondary school when my father had a nervous breakdown. After this period she had another breakdown and we went back to living with him. This ping pong game between two unbalanced people was the ground on which I tried to stand as a girl.

My father started raping and torturing me when I was five years old. It stopped for the two years I lived with my mother, when I was going through puberty.

When I returned to live with him and refused to let him touch me he pushed me down the stairs. He would have left me bleeding there had my brothers not come home and forced him to ring an ambulance. I suffered a broken leg, neck damage and a lot of bruising. In the hospital he brought me red carnations and threated to kill me if I told anyone. I could see that the nurses knew something was going on but I had become mute with terror. He had been threatening to kill me for years and now I knew he was capable of following it through.

After this he resumed raping me periodically until I was in my mid teens, when he then introduced me to other men who I can see now were a paedophile ring. I became pregnant at this time and was brought to England for an abortion. After this I became very depressed and unable to walk or talk. My father's cure was to bring his most repulsive friend to 'sort me out'. At the hands of this man I suffered the most horrific and humiliating experiences of my life. After this I became more compliant and my father seemed satisfied that I had been put 'back in my place'.

Depression was no refuge from his tormented mind and sleep wasn't either. When I was between 5 and 10 my father would randomly come into my room at night and either rape me and then push me on to the floor or just tell me to stand up in the middle of the room for the rest of the night. He said if I sat or lay down he would know as he could 'read my mind and see me' from his room. He would then leave my room and go to his own bed. I would stand there as long as I could and wake up in the morning on the floor.

In my late teens I had various medical problems that meant I was in hospital a lot which, although painful, was a wonderful break from home. My father then had a serious girlfriend so spent very little time with us. It was a relief to not be near him but also meant the house rarely had food or heating. Throughout my childhood hunger and cold were very real and present dangers. I also remember being smelly at school and very conscious of other 'clean' girls. Shame was just a part of my identity until I started meditating and it all started to melt away.

The day I found meditation was like seeing sunshine for the first time, breathing clean fresh air, drinking cool clear water and feeling the love of the earth envelop me.

Although I lived surrounded by the hell of my parents minds I was always deeply devoted inside to God and Nature. I loved the stories of saints such as St. Francis at school. In nature I always felt loved and cherished. Sitting surrounded by trees, flowers and animals I could hear all of life humming, buzzing, reminding me that I belonged, that there was a reason for me to be here. When my father raped me I would 'become' Mary the Mother and be enveloped in blue robes, pure and sweet smelling, like roses. I was brought out of the hellish reality to a different realm, one where my physical body endured pain but this part of my heart and mind was intact, impossible to be defiled.

My meditation practice has made this sense of belonging my everyday experience of reality instead of a rare retreat from it found only in nature. It has also given me an unshakeable strength, the type of strength that can only come from facing the horrors that human beings are capable of ~ facing it and moving onward.

When I was 18yrs old I almost couldn't believe that my father was letting me go to university in England. It was like he had forgotten his obsession with destroying me so I ran incase he remembered and stopped me. But he didn't and after that the memories faded and an uneasy tension took over our relating, like I had something 'on him'.

This unconscious power over him lasted until I was 26years old and started having flash backs. At the same time he started telephoning me ranting and paranoid, accusing me of being crazy 'just like your mother'. So I left my Masters programme in Dublin, moved to Donegal to be around gentle and kind people and immersed myself in nature beside the wild Atlantic.

I told members of my family about the abuse then. The abusive phone calls stopped when I told my father I would go to the police if he came near me. He was dealing with an adult woman now not a frightened child.

I got on with my life after this, so relieved that he had lost his power over me - that he was afraid of me now. Fast forward to 2005, a trip around the world later, and I went on my first 10 day meditation retreat. Like opening an unfinished compost bin, thick and smelly, all the memories flooded back and I trawled through them, turning them all to black gold with my new found meditation ability.

The 'body scanning' technique of meditation is a wonderful tool for unravelling knots and allowing tensions to melt away. It is the perfect tool for healing trauma as it allows you to address the feelings without going too much into the story. It felt like a miracle to have found this simple, easy meditation. For the first few years of meditating at home and on many retreats I was in utter bliss from the dissolving of all the painful body sensations that had been twisting me up my whole life. My body had been in such constant pain that I always had to gently pat myself dry after a bath. I couldn't bear to even rub a towel on my legs or arms. The relief from all this pain was divine.

Trust is an enormous issue for people who have suffered such extreme betrayal in formative years. Because meditation is a solitary and self-administered healing tool it doesn't challenge boundaries in the way other person to person healing techniques do. It allows trust to be built up from the inside out, which I have found to be a much more gentle way of dealing with what I went through.

On my first retreat the teacher said that the amount of pain one feels will be equal to the amount of ease one experiences after practising this meditation for some time. I have found this to be very true. The joy I feel now is the same size as the terror I felt as a child. It is vast and deep.

This healing was only possible with the help of some very good friends, family members, and therapists. I have found a therapeutic relationship vital in my more recent stages of healing. The free counselling offered by the HSE in Ireland for survivors of abuse is a wonderful resource and I encourage anyone on a healing path to avail of it.

I am still in Donegal, the wild Atlantic in the distance, the mountains surrounding me. I am here doing all I can to stay in balance, love myself and help others transform their hells into heavens. I teach meditation classes and retreats weekly and have had so many people contact me saying they feel less alone for having read my story.

I wish everyone who reads this a greater understanding for their own pain, for when we understand our pain, like magic, it disappears and leaves behind the deep well-spring of ease that resides in us all.

Since publishing this account of my life on my website I have been threatened with legal action by my father. I told his lawyers that I have no intention of taking down my story and shutting up. While there is breath in this body I will speak the truth.

Ending Gender-Based Violence 2012

Comments 34

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Kim Crane
Sep 17, 2012
Sep 17, 2012

Dear Aoife,

I want to thank you for your courage in sharing these words. Your last line gave me chills. I was devastated to read that after all of the evil your father has already inflicted in your life that he still continues to harass you as an adult. I am glad you have found your own voice and your own power to release his hold over you. I thank you for sharing your meditation and healing journey with this community. This story will give hope to other survivors.

Blessings, Kim

Aoife
Sep 17, 2012
Sep 17, 2012

Thank you, Kim. I realised early on in my healing that I would rather die than stay silent. In a way this is my greatest strength in the face of the craziness of my father. The threats are ongoing but on a day to day basis he isn't in my mind at all. I have fully released all the residue of the torture of my birth family situation. My family is very different now and I feel blessed each day with the sun and rain on my face, the love of good friends, the bounty of nature and my beautiful animals. My family is the true family of interconnected beings that reside peacefully on this earth.

Usha K.C.
Sep 17, 2012
Sep 17, 2012

Dear Aoife You are really an inspiration to all. I salute your courage to speak up about your experience.

I am sure your story would give every one a hope to live life with fullest. Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

much love.

Nusrat Ara
Sep 17, 2012
Sep 17, 2012

Dear Aoife,

You are such a brave women. My heart went numb reading your account but the end gave me hope. You are an inspiration. There is so much we can learn from you especially those who have been in similar situations. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Lots of love

Mukut
Sep 17, 2012
Sep 17, 2012

Dear Aoife,

Your story gave me strength and power to overcome any kind of fear or adversity just like you have.

I salute your courage to come out in the open and share with us, as sharing and talking about it would only help in mitigating the pain.

Thank you so much.

Aoife
Sep 18, 2012
Sep 18, 2012

Dear Usha, Nusrat and Mukut Thank you for your kind and supportive words. It is so wonderful that we can connect like this - brave women of the world speaking our truth. Thank you for this forum. I hope my story is helpful to people who have suffered in the same way. We can get over anything if we just keep on trusting that life does indeed love us and we belong here in this world, safe and loved. Wishing you all great health and happiness With love Aoife

weaverheart
Sep 18, 2012
Sep 18, 2012

Wow. What an incredibly powerful story you have lived. You are a testament to the spirit of survival and the power of healing. in spite of the most horrific circumstances, you have come out the other side intact and fortified. What a huge help you will be to others suffering similarly. You can bring forth the gift of healing through the process of what you have undergone. Infinite blessings to you, dear Aoife, and may you continue to blossom on your path. May the evil of those who have betrayed you shrivel them into nothingness. And may they some day awaken into the truth of the harm they have caused, and try to right those wrongs. But they are not your problem any longer, thankfully. You get to focus now on yourself, your healing and your emergence. Your life is gift to all who meet you or hear your story. Please know this deeply, as truth. With love. Laura

Pushpa Achanta
Sep 18, 2012
Sep 18, 2012

Dear sister,

For your courage, I salute you For your candour, I admire you For your conviction, I praise you

Hoping and praying that your expression will continue providing strength and meaning to everyone who's fortunate to encounter it. Carry on brave lady.

Love, peace and joy to all!

Warm hugs, Pushpa

Aoife
Sep 19, 2012
Sep 19, 2012

Dear Laura and Pushpa Thank you for your support and wonderful hearing of me. It has been a journey in itself putting my story out there. Lots of fear to face smilingly. I feel very different for it. My feet are firmer on the ground and I can see myself more clearly in the context of the whole of my life. I am very grateful for this forum in which to be seen so clearly... and celebrated - what a surpirse :) Wishing us all the freedom to be ourselves. In a world full of people fully seen and appreciated there would be no war. With love Aoife

torilynnfox
Sep 19, 2012
Sep 19, 2012

Dear Aofie, You are so beautiful! I am 30 and married and suffer a lot of memories of my sexual abuse by my grandfather. I find it hard to enjoy sex with my husband and being touched. I'm wondering how I could learn more about the types of meditation you do and the best way to start practicing. Any tips or websites I could check out? Thanks so much for sharing your story. It's always devastating to know others have experienced that betrayal but good to see them speaking out and learning to heal. Very encouraging! :)

Victoria

Aoife
Sep 20, 2012
Sep 20, 2012

Dear Victoria, Thank you for your kindness :) I am very glad to hear you are wanting to stop the suffering from what happened in your past. Life is for living in joy. We are lucky enough to be in the midst of a mindfulness revolution, especially in USA and UK. So you will find retreats and classes in your area quite easily I would think. If you do a search for mindfulness + where you live. I did a lot of retreats for the first few years of my healing with www.dhamma.org and have experience with the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn who has been wonderful in making the language around this form of meditation more accessible worldwide. I wish you great and gentle determination as you empty yourself of this unnecessary suffering. Please message me with any sharing or questions you have as you go along. Love and best wishes Aoife

William
Sep 19, 2012
Sep 19, 2012

Dear Aofie, Thank you for sharing your story. It took a lot of courage and I congratulate you. Your story really moved me, as I was sexually abused as a boy. Luckily, I can't remember it, but found out years later in counseling. I'm writing to you because I want you to know that there are men who don't sexually abuse their daughters. I had the priviledge of raising three daughters and loved them all, in a healthy way. I do hope your life will prove to be one with meaning, as you learn to forgive yourself and your father. Blessings.

Aoife
Sep 20, 2012
Sep 20, 2012

Dear William, Thank you for your feedback and sharing your story. I am glad you have had support to deal with the abuse you suffered and experienced the opportunity to bring your daughters up lovingly. I have met many beautiful men in my life so know my father and his friends are not the majority. I do not see this as a problem of one gender, though. From what I have seen it takes two sets of people to abuse - those who do it and those who look away while it is happening. Both are human beings full of fear and, in my opinion, mentally unbalanced. My journey has as much been about forgiving my mother as my father. Wishing you well on your journey Aoife

William
Sep 20, 2012
Sep 20, 2012

Dear Aoife, thank you for your response. I think you have hit on the single word that allows healing, forgiveness. I am a Christian, one who is putting my faith into action by serving the homeless in our area and involved in other activities where I am reaching out to others: like encouraging women through World Pulse. My past shades my future, try as I might to forget and forgive the past. I spend time in prayer every morning, so my relationship with God is pretty open, but I still seem to be who I am, based on my childhood anyway. You mentioned meditation as helping you, is there something specific you use? May your day be blessed.

Aoife
Sep 20, 2012
Sep 20, 2012

Dear William Sounds like you are doing great work and your daily prayer practice is no doubt helping you enormously. Prayer can be greatly complimented by a mindfulness practice, which is non-religious and can actually strengthen your faith, whatever it may be. It's roots are in Buddhism but now it is generally taught without religious concepts so as to make it more widely available. The most liberating teaching that comes from mindfulness, which is not as emphasised in Christianity but is definitely there, is about the nature of what we are as human beings. When we spend time in awareness of the thoughts, feelings, senses, sensations and images that can occur in us we begin to realise that none of these occurrences define us. We are not what we think we are. We are beyond that - a pure potential, spirit or essence. What also happens when we realise this is that all that we are not dissolves, fades away to leave behind this essential nature. So all the memories, judgements and opinions that build up suffering fade, and life flows with greater ease. We then act from a place of purity of intention rather than motivated by a reaction to some old thought pattern built up in childhood. We are living from a place of trust that the Divine will act through us. The evidence of this comes in observing ourselves act with greater compassion, strength and wisdom each day. We see life change all around us. It requires effort, initially at least. If you want to know more I would look for a mindfulness teacher nearby who has their roots in and is respectful of Christianity - there are a few of us! Cynthia Bourgealt is the principal teacher and advisor to the Contemplative Society and she teaches more or less mindfulness http://t.co/lFOcb6VN http://t.co/VtHAetw7 In this talk she speaks of a modern Christianity with great power to heal. I wish you great strength and self-kindness Aoife

William
Sep 20, 2012
Sep 20, 2012

Dear Aoife, Thank you for taking the time to share about this form of meditation. I wish you well on your sacred journey Blessings.

Cheryl Rask
Sep 19, 2012
Sep 19, 2012

I allowed myself to read the story of your journey and let it run backwards through me bringing it all the way back to where we all began Light. I too have been on many difficult sojourns on my journey but all have led to Oneness inside. The fragmented inner child only me to reassure her that I'm here for her and will never leave, bringing her back in to my heart, now beautifully cleaned. Blessings of Love and Light always, Cheryl

PS... I've felt that mist where you are and know where I resonant with... Dingle had a magical hit :)

Aoife
Sep 20, 2012
Sep 20, 2012

Cheryl, what beautiful words :) Yes, the mist here is magical and my healing is due in large part to this wild, calm land full of mystery. It all leads back to oneness and the feeling of being so blessed to be here. May you feel the love of the earth envelop you with every step x

Consolata Waithaka
Sep 20, 2012
Sep 20, 2012

Dear Aofie, You are really courageous. So sad what happened. I wish to learn more on Meditation. Can be of great help as we deal with Gender violence victimswww.womanshope.orgConsolata

Aoife
Sep 20, 2012
Sep 20, 2012

Dear Consolata, Thank you for your support and yes, mindfulness is wonderful in any workplace. If you could find a teacher nearby to come in and offer you training you could implement it into your daily structure. It is so helpful to have some quiet time at the beginning of the day, before meetings, in the middle of meetings :) The daily practice of mindfulness brings us into the power we all have as a 'presence' here on this earth. When we are embodied like this oftentimes we don't even have to speak, our presence says everything we want to. This in turn gives everyone around us the encouragement to relax into their own presence. When we stop striving for things to be other than they are guess what happens? Everything changes and flows again. Healing occurs. If you do a search for mindfulness in your area you will find someone no doubt :) Wishing you well Aoife

Katharina
Sep 20, 2012
Sep 20, 2012

Dear Aoife, It is a great honor for me that I get to read your story. Thank you very much for deciding to share it here with us. I'm deeply impressed by you, you are courageous and strong. Please stay like this. I find it extremely important that survivors like you or William, who posted a comment above, don't remain silent, but dare to speak up. It is painful to read, but the only chance to raise awareness. You are in my thoughts! All the best, Katharina

Olanike
Sep 22, 2012
Sep 22, 2012

Your story is very moving and I am really touched by your openness. There are situations we experience and encounter in our life's journey that we'd rather not speak about. However, your story is a testimony that there is power and healing in speaking out.

I am really very happy that you found healing and that you are living life all over again to it's fullest. The comfort and strength that you exhume is no doubt bringing healing to many who are privileged to read your piece and may be meet with you in person.

You are a beautiful and strong personality and it is great to know that you have found a place in your heart to forgive everyone who mistreated and hurt you.

God bless you!

Hugs and much love,

Olanike

Aoife
Sep 24, 2012
Sep 24, 2012

Dear Katharina and Olanike Thank you very much for your encouragement. It is wonderful to feel and it makes me stronger. Posting my story here has been very healing for me. I am realising more and more how there has been this strong part of me who wants to disassociate with my past, and when I have done that in the past how I have lost all my power. We have a moment by moment opportunity to live authentically. Sometimes we aren't strong enough to do it and those are times for gentleness and care. Other times we are ready to stand in our truth and embrace all the beauty life has to offer, even if it brings pain. Wishing us all more moments of strength and standing in our power. If more women can do this then I do believe this world will be more balanced and healthy.

Heidi
Sep 25, 2012
Sep 25, 2012

Aoife, I read your story here when the WorldPulse EVAW campaign began and it has been in my mind every day since. Your voice, your sincerity and honesty, and your strength is out of this world inspiring. Your calm and warmth are felt in your words - in both your story and your responses here. Many hugs to you, Heidi

Aoife
Sep 27, 2012
Sep 27, 2012

Heidi Thank you for a wonderful message. For so many years this struggle has been hidden and it is very nice now to be appreciated for the qualities that left me shunned and hated by my closest family. I now happily accept love and appreciation from those who, like me, want to live authentically in peace :) I enjoyed your website - especially your goat photo on the first page! I have goats and one just like that who I love dearly :) Your photos are lovely reminders of the preciousness of moments which hold all of life within like seeds. Wishing you great energy Aoife

raqueldevis
Oct 04, 2012
Oct 04, 2012

Dear Aoife, I congratulate on your successful healing process. Is admirable how you went through such a difficult journey from the shame you felt to the trust you achieved. Meditation has helped you to heal from sexual abuse and there will be a lot of women and men that thanks to you have discovered a new tool to heal their trauma. However, there will be some others that emphatically oppose meditation. Will you share with us other actions or facts that helped you in the process? I am sure, as you mentioned, that family and friends are in the top of the list. Thanks for sharing your story. Kind regards, Raquel

Aoife
Oct 06, 2012
Oct 06, 2012

Dear Raquel Thank you for your good feedback and a very interesting question. I can honestly say that if it wasn't for the work I did on those initial meditation retreats I would not be here today. Of course, knowing I was loved spurred me on but the way I stayed alive was for someone to teach me meditation and provide an environment in which to practice. It was work I needed to do myself. I needed to face my history and allow my spirit to emerge from the ashes. No person I knew could have spoken to the level of hurt and mistrust inside me then without making it worse. Later on it was comforting to have friends and family members around as I went on that gruelling journey. One friend in particular, a Catholic nun, was a tower of strength and had great skill to be of help. The friend my own age who I confided in was very supportive but I feel that it put such enormous pressure on our friendship it has never really recovered. So, yes, knowing there were people who loved me helped me walk the most difficult steps alone in the darkness and silence of my own being - but I walked them alone. And funnily enough, when I look back now I feel a great fondness for those dark moments because they were actually the breaking open of a shell around my true identity. For so long I had just been the victim of someone else's actions - either abandoned by them or the focus of their rage and sickness. I was never just me. And in that darkness I was melting away those false identities to reveal this little embryo of a person, ready to walk into a new life full of possibility. I was becoming free - an individual. This journey continues and will always continue, as life flows onward. I sincerely hope this is of help to you.

Wishing you great happiness Aoife

Leslie Stoupas
Dec 06, 2012
Dec 06, 2012

Dear Aoife,

Thank you for sharing the journey you took to find your inner strength. The image of your embryonic self emerging from the darkness of your childhood is a very inspiring one for anyone who feels ready to take the journey towards healing and growth of the new self. Such love, care and grace you offer from such tumult... amazing :-)

Aoife
Dec 28, 2012
Dec 28, 2012

Thank you, Leslie, for your lovely feedback. I do hope that my story can give some hope to people living in that darkness. Each day is a new opportunity to permeate ourselves with love and protect ourselves from corruption. It is our innocence that will create a lighter and happier world :) Wishing you a 2013 full of inspired energy, self-love and health. Aoife xx

Jennifer Yi
Jan 28, 2013
Jan 28, 2013

Aoife,

You are courageous!! Thank you for sharing your journey and encouragement with us! I am glad you are surrounded by so many supportive people and that you are doing well. I know your story will help so many women and girls.

Xx, Jennifer World Pulse Online Community Volunteer

Aoife
Apr 08, 2013
Apr 08, 2013

Thank you Jennifer. It is so wonderful to have all this support and to also be a support. I am enjoying life immensely :) Wishing you great health and happiness. Aoife x

Quenby Wilcox
Mar 16, 2013
Mar 16, 2013

Dear Aoife,

Thank you for sharing this. Unfortunately, atrocities like the ones you experienced are occurring everyday to millions of children around the world, and being covered up by the judicial systems and governments who have the power, authority and obligation to protect these children.

I admire you for your courage in speaking out. In the past 6 years, I have experienced intimidation and pressures to remain silent about my own experience with a psychologically abusive husband (with the same accusations of "crazy, paranoid" to cover up for his abuse.) I am well aware of the price one pays for speaking out.

I have been defrauded of all of my assets and thrown onto the streets with nothing by corruption in the courts and negligence of my legal counsel. I have also been denied any contact with my children for the past 5 years in retaliation for having denounced my husband's threats upon my life and person. All because I defied his wishes that I not work outside the home, and tried to start a company and develop financial independence for me and my children.

And, no my story did not happen in an Arab or African country to a Muslim woman. It happened to an American living in Spain; a country where women are provided with more rights (on paper) than any other country in the world. (Details about my case and my efforts to bring those involved to justice are posted in my journal.)

Again, thank you for speaking out, and remaining firm in your resolve to do so, even in face of the intimidation of your father and his lawyers. If more victims spoke out and were encouraged to do so, instead of intimidated into silence, then atrocities like your own would cease to exist.

My heart goes out to you and your courage, in speaking out and moving forward in your life. The horrific torture you experienced for so many years, and at such a young age, is inexcusable, and societies (and courts) around the world MUST stop turning a blind eye to these atrocities.

Quenby

Aoife
Apr 08, 2013
Apr 08, 2013

Dear Quenby Thank you for sharing your story. I do hope you are finding the support you need to grow and heal from what you are going through. Us speaking up is so important. I send my love to you and anyone suffering from this kind of abuse right now. Love is the only way to counteract this abuse of power and position. I wish for us to continue growing in the kind of strength that supports the innocence in us all. Be well Aoife

Marie Louise
Feb 25, 2014
Feb 25, 2014

Gratitude Aoife,

Inspiration to many to open the door to ourselves and release ourselves from our own prison of our past. May we all sense the love and freedom. Big love Marie