Posted by: Marie | September 2, 2009

(138) My body tells the story

Post #138
[Book study – Monday, June 1, 2009]

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
(Third Edition, 1994)
by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

Part One: Taking Stock
Effects: Recognizing the Damage

[Table of Contents]


Green text: Quotes/Summaries from the book
Gray text: My words

This transformative work (the entire series of blog posts relating to this book) constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright law.


Where are you now? (Your body)

Children learn about the world through their bodies. When you were sexually abused, you learned that the world was not a safe place. You experienced pain, betrayal, and conflicting sensations of arousal. Children often learn to leave their bodies to avoid these feelings – or they numb themselves as best they can.

On the Walkway by Martin Chen

On the Walkway by Martin Chen

Do you feel present in your body most of the time? Or are there times when you feel as though you’ve left your body? I’m “in my head” most of the time and absent from the rest of my body – I feel like a floating head.

Do you ever use alcohol, drugs, or food in a way that concerns you? Usually I can drink alcohol socially (1-2 drinks), but if I’m a little off-balance emotionally, I just want to get drunk so I can be numb. Also, I sometimes binge-eat on sugary foods until I feel sick – then as soon as the sick feeling goes away, I start eating again. I continue this for days until my body stops functioning from lack of nutrition.

Do you have a full range of feelings in your body? Or do you sometimes go numb? I’m guessing the answer is “no” – I only experience two sensations: sexually aroused and not aroused.

Are you aware of the messages your body gives you (hunger, fear, tiredness, pain)? Yes.

Do you respond to those messages? Usually not.

Do you have a hard time loving and accepting your body? Yes.

Do you feel at home in your body? Just in my head.

Do you have any physical illnesses that you think might be connected to your abuse? No.

Do you enjoy using your body in activities such as dance, sports, or hiking? Yes, as long as I don’t feel physically vulnerable while doing it.

Have you ever intentionally hurt yourself or abused your body? I pick at my skin (mostly face, sometimes elsewhere) usually at least an hour a day – I think it is more of a numbing distraction than self-injury, though.

Quotes 049


  1. Hi Marie,
    You are doing good work here.
    I am inspired, yesterday I bought me a new copy of The Courage to Heal, my very first new one. I have had more than one used, have given away more than one, and couldn’t find my own so I bought a new one.
    Carry on my friend, right here with you.

    • Hey, Vicki –

      It sounds like you are VERY familiar with this book, LOL! It is such a great book . . . so well written . . right on the mark.

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more therapists read it?

      Thanks for your ongoing support!

      – Marie

  2. I do think it would be great if more people worked through the book.

    It seems to me that it’s not only those with abuse in their background who would answer yes to those questions. Most people in our culture seem out of touch with their bodies, heady and so on.

    Perhaps it’s due to the institutionalised abuse called schooling or lots of other stuff.

    • Hi, Evan –

      I do agree with you that our cultures do encourage people to disconnect from our bodies. So much wisdom is contained in our cells and in the way all the components of our body work together . . . we would be wise to listen.

      – Marie

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