From Victim to Survivor: How the Craft Taught Me to Overcome Sexual Trauma (Part I)
Article ID: 13413
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: June 28th. 2009
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Disclaimer: I am not a certified professional. The following articles (Part I and Part II) are intended as a testimony, and in no way should be taken as gospel. If you or someone you know has suffered abuse, rape or traumas of any type, seek immediate professional help.
I love the Craft. I love the spiritual awareness that the Old Religion has brought to us in the latter part of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries. It would never have reached the audience that it was intended to if not for the many publishers who dared to make accessible the occult, as well as the many authors that paved the way by creating reader-friendly books.
I am a voracious book-reader (I plan to have a collection someday as depicted in the library scene in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Moment of sigh and envy…okay moment passed) . In any case, as much as I am thankful for the many occult books available on the market for the choosing, there is one subject that the Pagan Community should be aware of. It’s a very powerful awareness, and one that should not be overlooked.
This is the topic of abuse…most notably sexual abuse. This is by no means to downgrade any of the other types. Abuse is abuse. However, I believe that sexual abuse in particular is an evil that the Pagan Community should learn how to deal with and make community avenues available.
As of now I personally do not know of any Pagan resources to help Pagan families deal with this issue. If there are any, I would love to know about them. We usually turn to more secular services (e.g. Teen Hotline, Aid to Women, etc.) . The Church is usually an opportunity that many turn to.
I am not sure of the training of a High Priest or High Priestess in these regards. I am neither a part of any British Traditional nor Neo-Wiccan covens to be able to speak from that point of view.
My personal point is this: we as a Community should begin to be more open about these things. We comprise people who have stories to contribute, and are in a position to give their tales of how they overcame their various trials and tribulations using the Craft as a footstool. If we don’t hear these testimonies, what hope can we as a Community have to spread out?
I should know. I was a victim.
When I was younger I was molested repeatedly from the ages of 8-14. At 16 I was raped by an older man who I thought was a friend. It happened in broad daylight, violently and without cause other than pure, unadulterated lust. One word: evil.
What followed was the worst experience of my life, and explains why many rape victims (including males) will never report it. Who can stand to see their parents in anguish? Who would stand being confused, feeling as if it was their fault that now their family and private lives were exposed and out in the open for everyone to see and hear?
Being raped is not exactly the “out-of-the-closet” scenario any teenager (or person) who is struggling with sexual identity desires. The day you were violated is a day you cannot forget. It’s filled with shame.
After my rape I ran home and at first said nothing to anyone at home. I went to the bathroom and threw up, followed by making my stepfather dinner and making sure his coffee was ready before he became very upset. He tended to get aggravated if he didn’t have his coffee, you see.
The following day on Sunday we had two church services: one in the morning and one in the evening. It was that evening that I confided in someone in whom I had trust of what occurred the day previous. She went and reported it to one of the ministers.
Today I understand why she did it; there were legal ramifications since I was a minor and I reported it to an adult. At the time, though, no explanation was given as to why she reported it to an adult in the first place. When you have been victimized, you question whom you can trust and who you can’t. Your ability to discern is out of whack, the intuition has been dealt a severe blow and nothing makes sense.
It is important that a victim…any victim…be told repeatedly why certain decisions have been and are being made (for instance having another adult told) . During these vital moments, love as well as sympathetic perception is significant in being reinforced to the victim.
Conversely, what came next I will never understand. The minister told me, “Either you tell your mother or I will.” I was shocked. I wasn’t ready to tell her. The minister would not be present for such a dramatic confession, and furthermore I had to do it alone. Later in life I learned this was not a necessary step, and that someone qualified in helping adolescent victims should have professionally handled this confess to their parents the last thing any parent wants to hear.
I had to tell my mother, alone in my room that night.
My mother was fighting back tears because she didn’t want to beat me up for “allowing” that to happen. Had someone been present to help mediate, nothing would have occurred the way it did. I must emphasize at this point that not every Christian minister is like this. There are many wonderful Christian (as well as other religious leaders) out there who take their jobs seriously and understand the mechanics of trauma.
Although in my twenties I was a Pagan, it was a Christian counselor who helped me through the trauma of my youth. For that I will be forever grateful.
Two days later my pastor had himself, his wife, my mother and myself present in his home. I was forced to talk about the minute details of the rape. I was then told that there was something in me that attracted that man to me. I must have homosexual tendencies…an exorcism was also performed.
Here is another critical phase: the victim blames himself or herself. True, I was experiencing a sexual identity crisis (doesn’t almost every teenager?) , but saying that because you are a homosexual, or that you had a mini-skirt on, or that you had a certain perfume on in no way makes the victim responsible for the attack.
The predator is to blame, plain and simple. They chose to perform an act that overrode someone’s free will, in a violent and non-excusable manner. Nothing should have pointed in my direction.
Trauma followed trauma. My family was angry, bitter, confused and heartbroken. Naturally, I blamed myself over and over. I thought it would have been better had I never said anything and merely harbored everything internally like I always did (and sometimes continue to do) . Christ never talked about rape specifically in the Bible, much less male rape. Where could I turn to for information and help?
The scars of my life continued unabated. Eventually I left the church. Not too long afterwards I converted to being Pagan.
It was while studying mythology that abuse revealed itself to me, this time in the form of a well-known myth. Below is one of the versions of the story in detail:
“Plouton [Haides] fell in love with Persephone, and with Zeus’ help secretly kidnapped her. Demeter roamed the earth over in search of her, by day and by night with torches. When she learned from the Hermionians that Plouton [Haides] had kidnapped her, enraged at the gods she left the sky, and in the likeness of a woman made her way to Eleusis . . .
When Zeus commanded Plouton to send Kore [Persephone] back up, Plouton gave her a pomegranate seed to eat, as assurance that she would not remain long with her mother. With no foreknowledge of the outcome of her act, she consumed it. Askalaphos, the son of Akheron and Gorgyra, bore witness against her, in punishment for which Demeter pinned him down with a heavy rock in Haides’ realm. But Persephone was obliged to spend a third of each year with Plouton, and the remainder of the year among the gods.” - (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 29 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.)
Here in this myth is embedded some very-much needed help in dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse (or any abuse for that matter) . The myth of Kore/Persephone abducted by Hades is celebrated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, reenacted today by many groups, covens and groves. As well known as the myth is, it never occurred to me that within this story lay the important key to my recovery. It was here, in this study, that the Goddess Hekate also confirmed herself as the Goddess who had been watching over me my entire life.
One of Her symbols is the Key; indeed She possessed the Key to help me unlock so much of what I buried in order to facilitate healing. As She has helped me (the Goddess Cerridwen is currently my “foster-Goddess”) , so now hopefully the keys that She has given to me I might give to you.
Journey with me in Part II. In my next article we will dissect the Myth and come to terms with healing, in whatever form one may need it.
Source of the various versions of the Myth:
Rape of Persephone. (2008) Retrieved June 19, 2009 from http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/HaidesPersephone1.html.
For more information on getting help, here are some sources:
For Emergency help dial 9-1-1
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
In the UK for male victims of sexual abuse: 0845-122-1201
Location: Palm Bay, Florida
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