I recently had the amazing experience of discussing healing from sexual abuse/assault with African American Folk Healer & Shaman Richael Faithful. Her insights were both thoughtful and far-reaching, so I decided to share them with everyone – she had, among other things, insightful comments on the role of energy work and shamanism in healing inter-generational cycles of abuse and fear:
“Sadly, I support sexual abuse/assault survivors all of the time. It’s remarkable how many folks have been violated, and yet, collect the resilience to become whole in their bodies, hearts, and spirits again.
A unique quality that I have seen related to my work as an African American folk healer & shaman is that of the spiritual haunting of multigenerational sexual trauma.
Many survivors with whom I work are among several within or along their blood lines. They are part of violent cycles of abuse, fear, and secrecy. Their healing involves not only their own but that of past and future generations, which I call “across time and space.”
Healing takes place on a few levels. As an energy worker I help extract their experience of trauma from their physical and subtle bodies. On the other end we need to perform soul retrieval ceremonies or rituals for survivors to regain core parts of themselves that disassociated because of the abuse. When folks call back and integrate their power they are more whole and then more prepared for healing across the line.
I’ve seen at least three dimensions of healing across the line, which is especially relevant to slave descendants whose generational trauma entailed the removal of all bodily sovereignty.
First, many survivors are asked to acknowledge their abuse within their living families and, if appropriate, forgive people who abused them and any family members who perpetrated the abuse. This process is for the survivors–it’s not so important how their family reacts though it’s helpful to receive support. Acknowledgement and forgiveness serve as kind of release rituals which freeze the generational cycle.
Second, some survivors are asked to support the healing of other family members or other survivors. They become witnesses and stewards for those who have not had the benefit of being believed or held in the truth of their experience. They may also be truth-tellers in their families or communities–dissipating levels of denial that create psychic blocks or permit people who abuse to not complete their own healing. Occasionally these survivors formally assume roles of healers who create rituals, spaces or portals for others to be made whole again. I’ve had the honor of witnessing the initiation of several healer-survivors. They are very powerful, love warriors.
Finally, there are some survivors asked to transmute the lost spirits of ancestors who have survived or perpetrated abuse. This request is made of the most spiritually open survivors and may involve a variety of rituals which depend on the nature of the abuse and family history. Sometimes with ancestors who are survivor-abusers (which can be very common especially among former slaves abused by masters), healing involves distancing those ancestors until their spirits are ready to heal, and at a later time complete ceremony to heal their suffering too. Another level of this also may involve the acknowledgement, shared grief, and peace offerings to spirits who survived violence at the hands of our ancestors. Ultimately shamanism provides the wisdom that the imprint of deep abuse trauma is not erased by death, it is a mere transition of realms where healing is necessary and possible.”