A lady from Mumbai, Menaka (name changed) approached me to get help with her childhood sexual abuse memories. Previously, she had one EFT session with another practitioner and had severe abreactions after working on abuse. She told me that she howled after that and was very scared to deal with abuse again in the EFT sessions even though she felt that she needed to heal from abuse. Usually the “body memory” of the abuse makes a person feel unsafe and thereby they are afraid to work on it as it unleashes overwhelming emotions.
I consider it to be an important part of sexual trauma work and therefore the focus of this article is to show how the unsafe abuse memories can be dealt with EFT.
I told Menaka that we can deal with abuse only when she feels comfortable enough to do so. It is important not to introduce trauma work in the beginning of the session itself unless the client is ready. I started working with her on general family issues.
During one of the sessions while working on her anger at her mother, Menaka said that she hated reliving the traumatic incidents from the past. She said,“it shouldn’t have happened. I still feel ashamed and the rage is there. That fear lives in my body. If only I could close my eyes and escape. I try to shove it aside.”
She further revealed, when I probed her gently, that the abuse started at the age of 2 by her caretaker’s relative and continued till she started going to school. In her mind, some memories were fuzzy and some were crystal clear. She felt anxious as she spoke about it.
So we tapped on:
Even though I am anxious now as I speak about my past and it makes me feel unsafe, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. I am safe now as that was then and this is now.
Her anxiety went down but she was reluctant to go further. She said, "I don’t want to face this. I still don’t want to talk about it. I can already feel my heart pounding now."
So we tapped on:
Even though my heart is pounding as I am about to say certain things that I haven’t spoken to anyone, I want to accept this pounding and feel calm.
Her anxiety decreased and she went on to recount the whole incident. I did the Movie Technique on her and asked her to put a pause to her narration whenever she felt anxiety or any other emotion. She said that the abuser had locked the door. He emotionally blackmailed her into obeying him and asked her not to tell anyone.
She started feeling a burning sensation in her solar plexus. This was a sign of anxiety so we tapped on:
Even though I’m anxious right now as I remember what happened when was 5 years old...
I introduced the following reframe to tackle the possible presence of guilt, as it is always present in such cases, even though she hadn’t voiced it.
Even though I’m angry with my caretaker’s relative because he asked me to touch him, and he took advantage of me, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
I was really too young to understand all this and I didn’t know how to prevent it, I love and accept myself despite what happened.
After this her burning sensation went down completely and we focused on tapping on the anger and releasing it. Tapping was also done on other details of this abuse memory.
In the next session, we dealt with another school memory that haunted her.
She narrated the incident and started feeling the same fear in her body as she had felt on the day that unforgettable school incident took place. This usually happens in trauma as the fear gets trapped in the body and any time the traumatic incident is remembered the same frozen response of fear comes back to the surface.
During this incident, she was told by her parents that the abuser would drop her to school. Her parents were not aware of the abuse. So we tapped on:
Even though I’m afraid right now as I can feel that fear when my parents said that he will drop me to school, I deeply and completely love and accept myself and I want to remind myself that I’m safe right now, and this happened in the past and it’s not happening right now.
Her fear went down from 8 to 3.
I asked her to continue with the narration. She said that he dropped her to the school. He said something that made her fearful that the abuse could happen to someone else too; he could hurt someone else too. She suddenly garnered her strength and told him to end the abuse. She told him that she would tell everyone about his vile behavior if he did not stop the abuse immediately. She felt a shiver in her body as she was narrating this.
We tapped on:
Even though I feel this shiver now as I felt at that time when he said that '______.' and I thought that it may happen to someone else too, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
I am glad that I decided to stand up against him and face him and told him to stop. I choose to appreciate the fact that I confronted him and asked him to back off.
After this round of tapping she had a thought that she will start feeling better soon. Shifting her perspective about that incident worked!
Now she felt anger at her parents that they were careless and they should have looked after her. We dealt with her parent anger and her particular belief that things would have been different had the abuse not happened:
Even though I believe that things would have been different had those things not happened in the past, I choose to accept the fact that it did happen and no matter how bad it was, I choose to overcome it and feel better.
Even though it impacted my life, it is over, and I can overcome the side effects.
After a few days in the next session she said that the past didn’t bother her at all. But she felt a little fear coming up again when I tested her response by narrating that first incident again:
Even though I still feel fear when he said that he will lock the door, I choose to release this fear and feel safe.
Even though it was unpleasant, I choose to release this memory.
This took away her fear completely.
She also blamed herself for being cute as a child and for spending time with the abuser, and so we tapped:
Even though I blame myself for being cute, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. I know that it wasn’t my fault.
Even though I blame myself because I spent time with him as I was lonely & I didn’t have any friends, and I blame myself for this, I love and forgive myself.
After this she has not re-experienced the trauma again. It has been 2 months.
EFT is a wonderful tool to help Adult survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). CSA survivors battle with the trauma throughout their lives. Traditional therapy doesn’t help much in these cases. EFT can release the trauma without re-traumatizing the individual. Lori Lorenz M.A, says, “We form our perceptions of ourselves and the world so early in life that the violation of sexual abuse can change the core assumptions of our lives.” This is precisely what EFT can help with – the assumptions formed due to abuse.
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of AAMET International.
Originally published on January 15, 2011.