It is fantastic to witness many female trauma survivors recently taking a loud stance against invalidation abuse. For those of us who have suffered trauma and most especially women there appears to be a powerful prohibition against the expression of righteous anger and pain which is so necessary especially for those of us who have suffered due to being overwhelmed by a larger adult or bigger person’s power.
In this situation the likely response is that the individual goes into some kind of freeze state. Sadness can also come to dominate a person’s emotional life, they may have been allowed to be sad but not really angry about what happened to them. And in the end for people subjected to this kind of abuse righteous anger needs to be expressed so that the frozen individual can release their vital energy from its fundamental blockage and get free of the overpowering feelings of depression and often suicidal pain which results when the true feelings are never allowed to be expressed, released or fully addressed.
I thought that I would just share here in a small blog something I read this afternoon about this subject. It involves some regression work being undertaken with a client of John Lee outlined in his book on age regression who suffered molestation at a young age. Lee’s work with the client, Susanna involved getting her to liberate her buried fight response :
Before Susanna began discharging some of her pent up feelings, the fight response simply was not a choice for her. Her uncle took away her choice to fight. But now she is retrieving a part of herself that is rightfully hers.
When Susanna first consciously regressed back to that time with her uncle and started pushing out her anger… she began crying. I said “Let the tears come, but not at the expense of your anger.” As I said in my book on anger, Facing the Fire, many women were allowed to cry as children, but they were not supported when they expressed their anger. For that reason, when grown women feel angry, they let the water of their tears douse the fire of their anger. Many women have told me that the reason they cry is that they are sad that expressing anger was not an option – and still does not seem to be.
Only when a woman – or a man – feels safe can they begin to feel anger. As Marge Piercy says in her poem, “A Just Anger,” “A good anger acted upon is beautiful as lightning and swift with power.”
Amen, to that I say, Amen!!!