Ways of Renewal: A Guidebook for Women – Natural Methods of Clearing Sexual Trauma, Balancing the Emotions and Resurrecting the Spirit

Newly published book for survivors, written by a licensed acupuncturist approaches rape trauma from a fresh perspective – that of a treatable injury. Just as a broken arm will heal correctly if the bones are set and the arm is immobilized for a period, the trauma suffered by rape or sexual assault survivors also requires intervention, but of a different nature. This concise book leads the reader to a basic understanding of the ancient art of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, offering specific acupuncture point prescriptions to use specifically selected for sexual trauma, with detailed explanations. The book also describes other related healing modalities which are effective for treating this “invisible injury”.  

Life as a survivor, is a step beyond life as a victim, but life as a thriver is even more fulfilling.


Rape Trauma and Spirit Attachment

An acupuncturist talks about spirit attachment from rape trauma. How to diagnose it and how to clear it.  Perpetrators generally have failed in the daily task of spiritual housekeeping (otherwise they wouldn’t be perpetrators), and because of this, they can take on spirit attachments, or cultivate a corrupt spirit. This dark spiritual aspect of the perpetrator can be passed onto the victim through the traumatic violation.  How do we identify spirit attachment and how do we clear it.
Brought to you by Project Acuhope

Music as Mantra’s-Finding healing through songs.

Listening to Tori Amos’s music probably saved my identity.  I don’t want to say “saved my life” because I am not sure if my life was ever in jeopardy.  But, my identity was and I think that, on some level, losing one’s identity (or never finding it in the first place) is a horrifying thought.

When I found Tori’s music I was a junior in high school and had just gotten out of a terrible, abusive relationship that lasted much longer than it should have.  I was seventeen and really had no idea who I was.  This was compounded with the fact that I lived in a small town where gossip spread like wildfire and where everyone seemed to have an opinion about what had happened to me.  So, not only was I trying to heal from something very destructive, I was also trying to be a teenager in a very suffocating place.  I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to become.

Then a friend of mine gave me a copy of Tori Amos’s CD Little Earthquakes.  Just like many Tori Amos fans have said, that CD changed everything.  It required me to listen and interpret the song lyrics, to adjust them to my emotions and to find mantra’s in songs like “Girl” (Everybody else’s girl, maybe one day she’ll be her own”).  I began listening to all her songs on a loop (at the time she had three albums out) and found myself transfixed by this person who seemed to understand what I was going through, even though we had never met.

As I grew older and began the long journey that was my college and graduate education I found myself turning to Tori’s music for more than healing (although healing was still certainly a major component).  I began to see it as a guide through things like politics (the album American Doll Posse took on George W. Bush and his policies), the experience of Native people (with the album Scarlet’s Walk), international relations (the song Juarez which addressed the rape and murder of women in Juarez long before the media started covering it) as well as my own feminism.

When it came time for me to pick a dissertation topic for my PhD I workshopped an idea about the ways women have used music as a means to heal themselves as part of a holistic health class I was taking.  I was surprised at how positive my classmate’s responses were, especially since none of them had heard of Tori or her music.  With this in mind, in the summer of 2009, I began interviewing women who are fans of Tori Amos to find out what it was that drew them to her music.  The results of this study demonstrated to me that music goes beyond being a powerful healing force, music reflects the experience of the listener and becomes a way for a person to engage in self care.

But, specifically for women, music that tells the story of another women’s experience is particularly powerful, especially if the song is written and performed by another woman.  Many of the women I interviewed were survivors of sexual or physical abuse.  For them, Tori’s music took them on a journey to self-healing because the songs spoke to Tori’s own experience overcoming sexual assault.  Another common theme was experiences women had had with miscarriage.  One women, in particular, told me the story of a pregnancy that was the result of her rape and the miscarriage that followed.  Knowing that Tori has been through miscarriages, and had written entire albums about the experience, gave many women a guide, a way to help them heal.  The result of this study is my forthcoming book, “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos.

In holistic health it is taught that people cannot heal unless their mind, body and spirit are all being worked on.  This is what I think music does for people.  I spoke with many rape survivors who told me they write down song lyrics in their journal’s and use them as bullet points to express what they are feeling, because doing this in a journal is a safe place.  I met a woman, who was healing from breast cancer, who told me that her best healing takes place in the car on her way home from work because she can scream along with the music she is playing and release her tension.  Many people talk about blasting a CD (or IPod playlist) while creating art, that the music gives them a rhythm to help them create.  One woman in particular, who is dealing with a disease that left her disabled, told me about her “painting songs”, a playlist created to get her motivated to create her art.  For myself, music becomes mantra’s in my head that will often punctuate what I am feeling.  Sometimes I am aware of what they mean and sometimes I let them pass through and assume that the meaning will come to me later.

I hope to explore the ways that music can be a tool in your “healing kit” in future posts.  I hope you can offer me suggestions or share your own way(s) of using music to heal in the comments.  Until next time, one of my favorite quotes from Leo Tolstoy, “Music is the shorthand of emotion.”

Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, PhD is the author of the forthcoming book, “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos” which will be release by Scarecrow Press.  She has written for The Orlando Sentinel and the journals “Qualitative Research” and “Humanity and Society.”  She is currently a faculty member in sociology at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida and she studies the ways pop culture influences ideas about gender.  She also runs the Facebook page “Pop Culture Feminism.” www.adriennetrier-bieniek.com