This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Many of us felt we had ‘a crushed or broken spirit’ and wanted
healing from spiritual emptiness. Some women said they drank or
used as a response to a wounded heart, a spiritual core that was
hurt. The spiritual issues we want to address include, improving
our ability to give and receive love, to ignite hope, ﬁnd meaning
in the past and present situation, and locate our purpose to
recover, heal and live. These spiritual issues go deeper than just
our emotions and feelings, moving to the core of who we are
and who we want to become. They provide the motivation we
need to live and work at our healing. When our spiritual core is
stronger we believe we will move from surviving to thriving.
What do we Mean by Our Spirit?
There are many and varied understandings of the human spirit.
Many place it in a religious framework that can help people to
understand who they are. In this project we sought to give our
own understanding to what we view as our spirit. It may help you
to work out your own perspective on this subject.
The spirit is deep within us joining together our body and mind, our emotions and feelings. Our spirit
gives us a hope and a vision for our life. It is expressed through our emotions, but it is more than
emotions and free will. The spirit makes us alive in a total sense, instead of just a mechanical sense.
It is what gives our life meaning and purpose, and purpose is to the mind what water is to the body.
Our spirit energises our life and our whole being, making us feel alive, rather than just existing. The
spirit responds to relationships that nurture and love, and is crushed by hatred, abuse and violence.
We should be compassionate and gentle with ourselves
to nurture our spirit. If others in our support team provide
understanding and kindness our spirit will ﬂourish.
It’s a difﬁcult dimension to describe and we recognise some
people will say it is irrelevant to them, but for us it has been
just as important to our healing as the emotional and physical
dimensions. We describe it as the dimension that binds
the others together to give us a sense of ‘togetherness’,
I believe there is a strong spiritual
core to everyone. Everyone has an
individual essence that is ignited
at birth… we just have to keep that
inner spark burning. It is no one’s
right to put that out.
My spirit is the difference between
life and death for me, because it is
the thing that I believe that even at
the worst moments I was comforted
by it. It is my guide. As my spirit is
gaining strength my loneliness is
dissipating. I always feel like there
is something by my side where ever
I go, and I am guided by it. Without
it, I think I would be dead. It is my
vision. I call it God.
Having faith has brought me relief
and release. Believing in God has
kept me going. I fought with it for
so long, I was a very depressed
person and I went and did a course
on understanding depression. I had
a lot of anger. I found faith in the
Lord and it is very hard to explain,
but it has lifted from me and I have
found inner peace. The past doesn’t
break me up anymore and it doesn’t
hurt me like it used to. I have an
identity as a child of God. I have
hope and a reason for living.
‘wholeness’, ‘integration’, and ‘life’. For some this spiritual dimension has been organised using a
religious framework, and we obtain from that understanding a source of hope, purpose, meaning,
identity and love. This provides a guide to making sense of life and how to live. It gives a framework
on which to reclaim and construct our life, which is helpful.
Those of us struggling with addiction recognise the psychological triggers for addiction can create a
long-term ‘battle’ which some view as spiritual. A battle between what is right and holds us together,
and what is destructive and pulls us apart. Addictions stop us from getting in touch with our inner spirit.
One woman notes that since she stopped using alcohol and drugs she has more clarity in her mind.
This helps her face life’s issues because she is ﬁnding within herself the inspiration and motivation to
recover. She said,
I feel the spirit may be the glue that holds the pieces of my life together and this glue is just now
beginning to set. My sense of identity and my sense of self is like jelly that hasn’t set yet. It turns
to water in the heat of self-doubt, and it is only able to set if I can reduce the heat. I calm down
and cool off when I connect with the spirit within me through prayer and meditation.
With loving nurture the spirit heals a little bit at a time; enough to allow us make the next step on
our healing journey. The next step isn’t going to come unless we are ready to take it. We can’t force
spiritual growth or healing on anyone. It ﬂourishes when we love ourselves and have a nurturing
environment and compassionate people around us. We are all in the process of becoming. We are
not just the product of our past. This may seem cliché, but we are recognising it as a liberating truth
in our lives that is developing as we reconnect with our inner selves.
Some discoveries we made about healing the spirit that you may wish to reﬂect on and use if
you ﬁnd them helpful.
• Recognise previous living and relationship patterns can be transformed.
You have to come to a place where you are looking at your problem and you say, ‘OK I have
seen this and looked at it enough. I now want healing and peace from this.’ That’s what I ask
God for. I want to be a whole person. Then eventually I hope I can get to the stage (and I am
moving that way) where I can ﬁnd encouragement from what I have been through, knowing I
am a better person because of it. Yes, I am truly getting there. I’m much more at peace with
my past now.
• Recognise your wounded spirit can be healed.
I would like to say to my father, ‘You took a piece of me when you put that pillow on my
head and put me in the dark, which is where you left my soul. From that point I have been
scratching and crawling around trying to ﬁnd and grab the pieces of my spirit and keep them
together enough to keep me going… enough to have a baby and do it totally differently to
what you did’.
• Recognise circumstances that trigger feelings of confusion, anger, shame, guilt, blame, doubt
and fear, as these are risky situations. Find a safe place to reﬂect and share your concerns.
• Be prepared to spend some time reﬂecting on difﬁcult situations and think about your attitudes to your
situation which may be unconsciously contributing to your suffering. Think about your desires, fears,
values, beliefs, attitudes and demands that you may be placing upon yourself. Where do they come
from? Who are they connected to? What experiences are they connected with? Is there a reason you
stick with these views? If you want relief from suffering then you need to take the time to bring into
your conscious awareness the values and beliefs you hold that contribute to your experience of pain.
You will experience the most healing if you hold on to beliefs that return you to compassion for, and
connection with, others.
• Building human relationships within a faith community is healing to our spirit.
• Getting alongside another person to tell your story and share your pain with a compassionate
listener is healing.
• Prepare strategies to handle your negative experiences which produce suffering (revisit Chapter
2 for ideas).
• Learn to use ‘centreing’ strategies that help you focus your energy on the places where it is most
needed to heal. We ﬁnd meditation, prayer, deep relaxation exercises help. Meditation and prayer
still the mind and help us gain control over our thoughts. There is sound evidence in health
research that says prayer is more potent and helpful than many medical interventions in healing
different biophysical diseases, but especially in healing mental health needs.
• Find contentment in simple things that ease emotional tension.
I might not have much in my little abode because I am starting from scratch but the
contentment of my son sitting across from me and my daughter sitting next to me, regular
friends, watching a movie… I think you can’t put a price on that.
• Find support and relief in religious faith and the presence of your higher power. For some the
connectedness they feel and the opportunity to participate in faith communities is providing
a sense of belonging, and an opportunity to participate in life in ways that are supportive and
nurturing. Additionally, the values of a faith provide help to focus life and make sense of suffering.
I went to church by myself when I was 11. My mum and dad had split up and I wouldn’t
go with him, so I went to church by myself. To this day I don’t know why, but obviously
something drew me there at that time. My mum had a nervous breakdown and by 11 I was
taking over her role. I got my brother to school and looked after my sister. I know going to
church got me through it. I don’t remember what it was, but it cushioned something for me
so I could live and move on.
• Reading the sacred text/s of your faith can provide hope and inspiration that heal the spirit. It
helps us know who we are within the bigger picture.
It allows me to put my story with your story and together our story can be placed in his story
This web of relationships is what holds us in place in the world. Most sacred texts give us
an account of our story and our place within that story, so we know where and how we are
connected into life.
• Nurturing creativity takes your mind into areas that nurture the spirit… painting, cooking. Do
something that gets your head out of the darkness of looking inward and shifts your focus
outside of yourself.
• Getting out among the natural environment nurtures the spirit: go for a walk along a beach, in a
park, in the bush, feel the wind, the sun, smell a ﬂower, pat a dog, feed some ducks… there are
many wonderful nourishing activities you can use that connect you to nature.
• What do you deﬁne as your spiritual dimension?
• If this aspect of your life is important to you, then think of times when you were most full of
contentment, peace, hope, joy, love etc.
• What were you doing or experiencing at that time that can give you clues as to how to nourish
Note these down for each of the emotions detailed in point 2.
• How can you build more of these experiences into your life?
It is not enough to just face the issues that child sexual abuse raises and the concurrent feelings and
emotions. To action change and work out preferred ways of living and being you need to consider
the issues and plan to action ways you can deal with these important subjects. Some common ones
we discussed in this chapter include the ongoing impact of the perpetrator/s and the subtle hold
they can continue to exert over our lives. You will need to deal with intimate partner relationships and
the aspects of trust, reciprocity, love and communication within those relationships, as well as the
vexing activity of sexual relations within such a relationship. An important aspect of reclaiming healthy
relationships is the recognition and maintenance of healthy personal boundaries within partnerships
and within families. The ﬁnal area we considered brieﬂy was the area of spirituality. Some women
struggle with an inner emptiness that leaves a yearning for inner peace and love, and a desire to
renew a sense of meaning and purpose in life. The suffering that CSA invokes can lead to a deep
need to examine the spiritual core of one’s self so we reclaim our right to personal wellbeing and
The ﬁnal chapter deals with the process of discovering yourself and the various aspects of the healing
journey that facilitate transition and the reclaiming of a stronger sense of self.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?