Mary and Erin take on the sexual abuse crisis in our culture and how to heal from the wounds and pain it’s inflicting. Mary shares inspiring stories from her 30 years of helping victims move on from even the most abominable attacks. Rape and gang rape victims who have healed and gone on to live normal lives filled with peace and joy and, surprisingly, even compassion for their attackers. It’s a sober, but exhilarating conversation full of hope for sexual assault victims and predators as well as their friends and families.

Episode Highlights, Ideas and Wisdom

  •  Sexual abuse is about power and powerlessness on both sides of the equation.
  • Can we forgive the predator? Should we forgive a predator?
  • Sexual assault is part of the human shadow. We’re all very full of light and darkness. This crisis is an opportunity to launder our darker aspects and experiences and find our light.
  • Forgiveness is a state of freedom. Freedom from trauma. Freedom from sad decisions you’ve made about life or people or yourself or what you deserve.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the vile and atrocious behavior. It’s not about the nature of the sins. It’s about healing wounds and pain from bad experiences in life.
  • Sexual assault is an amazing betrayal of trust. Very often the victim takes the experience to mean that they don’t deserve their own boundaries. They don’t deserve to succeed in this society unless they give it away. Most victims feel a sense of shame about having been in the position of powerlessness or giving themselves away because they didn’t know what else to do at the time. They think maybe somehow they were in collusion with the predator if say there was a lot of drinking involved. So, they think they asked for it. They blew it somehow.
  • The positivity of so many sexual abuse stories being told right now is that victims are feeling less alone, less self-blame and that it’s less of a personal story and more of a cultural ill.
  • Can we have compassion for everyone, including the criminals? The men that were so misguided and caused so much harm and are dealing with a lot of bad karma and weighty baggage they have to process.
  • We don’t really know why people do some of the things they do.
  • Some predators who are ripping off a sexual experience from someone who’s not exactly willing are feeling powerless themselves. They don’t really know their truest self. They’re seeking energy almost like they’re hungry. Like they’re empty and they’re seeking the energy of this other person which they are going to rip off and dominate for a few moments. They feel kind of powerful for an hour or a day or a week or a month and then they have to do it again because they get hungry again. They go and find a new prey to rip that energy from. The victim feels like they’ve lost a piece of themselves. They also feel like they’ve been given the energy of shame that the predator may have been carrying around trying to get rid of it. There’s this strange exchange that goes on around power and shame that all of us have to face into somehow and maybe have some compassion for both sides of the equation.
  • You can’t wait for healing until justice is done. You have to do both.
  • If you are not ready to forgive, you have to ask yourself, how much longer do you want to remain tied to the predator? Do you really want to be tethered to him? How much longer would you like to dwell in that little dark room where you were hurt? How much longer to you want to be that child, that wounded and degraded person?
  • An important part of the healing process is honoring your wounded personality. The part of you that feels damaged or ripped off. What you’ve lost. Your innocence. Trust. Your sense of rights. Honoring the person that you were and not blaming yourself anymore for what you’ve lost. Realizing that you were a child or the predator was much bigger than you or he had a weapon or there were four of them and one of you and that you couldn’t help it. Acknowledging that you might have preferred that you had avoided the situation. You hadn’t gone to the frat party. You had stayed home that night. But also realizing that you need to release that expectation because it didn’t happen and there’s nothing you can do about it now.
  • Shame can keep you from seeking healing.
  • The forgiveness process is kind of gritty. It’s not pretty. It’s not passive. You need to get the rage out.
  • Some kind of strange thing happens with sexual abuse. Very often the person who commits these acts in adult life had it done to them as a child. They do or do not remember it, but some part of them learned as a child that this happens and they are not going to be in the victim position. They’re going to be in the power position. They are going to be the one that does this and not the one that it’s done to. A lot of it is extremely unconscious.
  • The human psyche does not know what to do with things like sexual abuse so it usually puts the feelings from these experiences in the deep freeze only to be thawed, triggered and show up again later in life.
  • Human beings are so amazingly resilient and so capable of loving our enemies.
  • More and more women, especially young women, are refusing to take on the shame of sexual abuse. They’re just saying no, that’s not mine. They’re deciding that it’s not going to be a secret that diminishes them, keeps them small and afraid and poisons their life for a long time to come.
  • It hurts us to hurt others.