When you have had little sense of true safety in your life, how do you go
about building some? Once your external safety has been handled, safety
becomes an inside job. You can develop a sense of internal safety, a way of
feeling in your body that lets you know you are okay and that everything is
all right. This ability to relax or let down your guard is often what was
so damaged through sexual abuse. Even when your relationships and the world
you have built around you are safe, you may feel like you are never really
safe. Most trauma survivors experience this feeling of low-level,
insistent, persistent danger.
To build an internal sense of safety, let's look to your body. What
sensations do you feel there? Notice temperature, pressure, and movement.
Notice sensations all over your body, front and back, inside and out, top
and bottom. Do you feel warmth in your legs? Cool feet? Tension in your
stomach? Tingling inside your head? Are you feeling blocked or rigid in
Now look for a place in your body where you feel a sense of peace, strength
or well-being. Do you feel strength in the palms of your hands? A sense of
well-being in your right hip? Where do you feel your body comfortably
settling? A sense of openness or spaciousness? Look for the literal
sensations. What are they?
If you are unable to find a place in your body where you experience
comfort, find something you like outside of your body. Think of your
favourite animal, a beautiful color, a person you love, a place in nature,
or something you love to do, like singing, skiing, or surfing. Notice what
happens in your body. Does a smile come across your face? A feeling of
warmth spread across your chest or back? Maybe your hips relax and get
warm. These sensations are the building blocks for your sense of internal
well-being. You can call these your sensations of safety or pleasure, well
being or resourcefulness. These are what we will use in building a strong
internalized sense of safety.
Bring your attention back to those sensations again. Have they changed at
all? Sensations in the body are alive and shifting all the time. Place you
attention on your body and look openly at where you feel those resourceful
sensations now. What are these sensations like? Are they moving?
Now practice making these sensations smaller. Can you shrink them down? And
bigger. Can you expand that warmth and spaciousness? What is it like to sit
and breathe with these resourceful sensations for thirty seconds? Try this
now. I will ask you throughout the book to call forth these sensations of
safety. The more you notice them, the more apparent and present they will
become. Noticing these sensations does not make other sensations, feelings
of fear and anger or triggers go away; rather, it gives you a safe place to
approach them from. By accessing these sensations again and again, you can
build an internalized sense of safety or resourcefulness to return to when
facing challenging moments in your healing---or even when you are having
(By permission - on file)
"The Survivors Guide to Great Sex: "
'How to Have an Empowered Sex Life After Child Sexual Abuse'
by Staci Haines ISBN: 1573440795 Publisher: Cleis Press
Pub. Date: April 1999 Edition Desc: 1 ED AOL users click here