Sexual Shadow of the World

The truth is, there is a hidden epidemic of sexual abuse in our culture – that is eating away at our communities, destroying the heart of humanity, and ravaging our planet. We can no longer afford to look the other way or turn a ‘blind eye’.

The recent sexual abuse scandals involving Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Saville, and the Catholic Church are part of a greater cultural apocalypse – a feminine root word which means unveiling. We are finally seeing the hidden rot behind the false surface image of our culture. And before we point fingers of blame and shame ‘out there’ – we must know that this unveiling is gathering pace in every sector, every industry, every family home.

These revelations teach us one lesson about the reality of sexual abuse, one thing we mustunderstand if we want to heal and rebirth our world: most sexual abuse is denied, hidden, suppressed, repressed, unrecognized, and unreported. What we see is only the tip of the iceberg. If we want to know the truth we must look deeper, we must be prepared to face one of the longest, darkest shadows of the world.

The scandals also teach us that a few brave individuals who break the spell of silence, who speak up and challenge the businesses, churches, spiritual gurus, media organizations, legal structures, health care systems, and family members who are complicit in the culture of denial – can create a new culture of truth and transparency that leads to tremendous healing. Our voices and our truth, especially when we come together, create change powerfully and quickly. This is the way our world will heal.

5,000 years of Rape Consciousness

It is important to note that this mass collective culture of rape consciousness is not new, but has dominated the planet for thousands of years. In past eras, it was not even a taboo, as some women, and young girls and boys, were openly used by elite priesthoods, politicians and male family members as if they were objects.

Overt, culturally sanctioned sexual abuse still happens in many cultures in the world, but in others – such as the western world – the essence remains hidden from sight, repressed and kept as a forbidden secret. No wonder we feel an immense sense of cognitive dissonance in our lives. On the surface we are told one story, of caring families, caring politicians, caring organizations. Underneath is a completely different story, held in deep shadow. 

We live in a tumultuous, difficult, yet necessary time in history in which the shadow is being revealed. Rather than a charming politician with slick wordspeak, we now have an elected president of the United States who condones “grabbing womens’ pussy”. The air is thick with the stench of sexual predation and dehumanizing rhetoric. Actors cavalierly say in public they love their job as they get to “rape beautiful women.”

Sexual Abuse & Mental Health

The same tidal wave of unveiling and revelations will soon sweep the mental and physical healthcare fields, which, at the moment, are still choosing to stay in denial. When this happens, there will be a complete revolution in the way we look at health.

Based on my twenty years experience as medical doctor, emotional healer, spiritual leader and researcher, working with more than 25,000 people, I have come to a very controversial, but sadly very true conclusion: sexual abuse is a huge, unacknowledged, contributing factor in much of our health and emotional illness.

The startling truth is that childhood sexual abuse and other forms of childhood trauma are at the root of almost every chronic psychiatric diagnosis (with a few exceptions) in the DSM-IV, the so-called “bible” of the mental health fields. [1] This includes depression, anxiety, borderline personality, dissociative identity disorder and many others. The more intensive the trauma, the longer its duration, and the younger the age at which it happened, the more severe and chronic the psychiatric condition will be.

The same is true in chronic physical health conditions. Childhood traumas, known as “adverse childhood events” by researchers, including sexual abuse, account for a large percentage of physical illness, not just in childhood, but throughout our adult lives. A full account of this phenomenon deserves its own book, and indeed many good ones have now been written that detail the hundreds of medical studies supporting this conclusion (Scared Sick, by Robin Karr-Morse is one example).

Sexual Abuse Much More Common Than We Are Told

The most conservative and well-respected medical studies state that around 25% of girls and 18% of boys have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18. [2] But, it is widely known that these reported numbers do not represent the true amount of sexual abuse. The actual numbers are shockingly higher than this.

In 2014, the National Academies of Science stated, “sexual assaults are grossly underreported.” At least 80% of childhood sexual abuse goes unseen. [3] Beyond the issue of non-reporting, childhood sexual abuse is often not remembered, for a number of reasons. In many cases, childhood abuse is perceived as so frightening, overwhelming and shameful, that an instinctive, protective amnesia and dissociation kicks in, and the memories are immediately repressed and forgotten. Or children may be given sedative drugs, alcohol or over-the-counter cold medicine, which blur memory further, with events lost in the unknown recesses of the mind.

If sexual abuse occurs when children are young enough, typically under the age of four, they usually do not have the neurologic capacity to form clear conscious memories. The feelings remain, but they are encoded in body memories and vague states of upset or behavioral symptoms that are difficult to understand.

In my clinical experience with women seeking healing for physical and/or emotional health, the numbers are around 70% or greater who consciously remember sexual abuse, or who carry the symptomatic, behavioral and energetic signature of someone who has been sexually abused. The abuse can vary in intensity, from unwanted or inappropriate touch, voyeurism, leering, fondling, oral sex, penetration and beyond into the unthinkable. The more violent the incidents, the longer the duration, the closer the relationship of the perpetrator, and the more powerless the child feels to find support and safety, the more disruptive the outcome is to physical and emotional health.

Sexual Abuse a Cause of Borderline Personality and Dissociative Identity Disorder

Of all the mental health conditions, borderline personality and dissociative identity disorder, formerly “multiple personality disorder”, are very commonly expressions of childhood sexual trauma (often compounded by other developmental traumas).  A 2016 study showed approximately 45% of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder had a known history of childhood sexual abuse. [4] An older study reports this number to be as high as 70%. [5] As shocking as these figures are, we know that they greatly underrepresent the actual percentages. Not every case of borderline personality will involve sexual abuse, but we must begin with the assumption that many do.

DID and Ritual and Network Abuse

In dissociative identity disorder (DID), a condition in which multiple fragmented personalities are present in a person, a history of childhood trauma is even more common; it is found in a stunning 97% of patients, with childhood sexual abuse found in as much as 90% of cases. [6,7,8] However, the patterns of sexual trauma in DID present an even darker and more shocking picture. Psychotherapists report that 25 – 50% of their DID patients recover memories of systematic, ritual or network sexual abuse – abuse carried out by multiple people in an organized way. [9]

Psychotherapy professionals who come forward to speak about the presence of ritual abuse in their patients and communities are generally disbelieved, mocked, humiliated, excluded from professional societies, and stonewalled from publication. Academics who are in denial, or hired guns of the systems of abuse, write scientific papers that claim recovered abuse memories are a result of “false memory syndrome” – that these memories are not real. But PTSD literature (post traumatic stress syndrome) on soldiers in recent wars prove the existence of repressed memories caused by emotional trauma, that are later recovered in a safe therapeutic setting. It is now known that we can repress entire events or segments of time if needed.

Because we live in a culture that is in such profound denial of the tremendous scale of sexual abuse currently happening on the planet, the abused women themselves become the scapegoat. Their traumatic pain is not recognized, not held with love, not healed. Instead they are labeled as neurotic complainers, dramatists, and liars, made to feel defective or broken and often medicated and disbelieved.

Many men are also playing out their repressed sexual abuse wounds, sometimes as victims, but also at times becoming the perpetrator, unconsciously inflicting their sexual pain on a new generation of children. Crippled by the toxic shame they feel, and lacking the emotional tools and cultural support to heal, they perpetuate the cycle of abuse. We sometimes forget that almost as many boys are sexually abused as girls. In the Catholic Church scandal, 80% of the victims were boys, mostly between the age of 10 – 14. [10]

Protecting Women, Protecting Earth

The magnitude of the consequences of sexual abuse are immense; not just personally, but collectively, culturally, financially, ecologically and spiritually. Anyone who has worked directly with women knows of the slow, painful, agonizing and courageous journey it takes to heal these wounds – how they are written in the body and the psyche, and how much time and energy it takes to reweave trust.

And beyond this, the Womb and genitals of woman – the sacred site that sexual abuse attacks – is also the portal through which our vibrational blueprint as a race is birthed. A womb imprinted with pain, fear, and disconnection transmits this pain to the DNA of their future children, epigenetically modifying the expression of their genome – until these womb wounds are healed. [11]

We are literally birthing a world of pain and suffering through hidden sexual abuse.

The developmental trauma (chronic childhood emotional wounding, or complex-PTSD), that is a result of this abuse epidemic, is the root of most of the world’s suffering, costing us trillions of dollars per year in health care expenses and lost productivity, and costing us the lived integrity of our true soul self. We don’t feel safe in our bodies, in our culture, or in this world.

As the body of woman is raped, commodified, abused – so is the body of Mother earth. We are raping the very energy source that created us and sustains us.

Protecting women is about more than “women’s rights” – it is about the very survival of our species. If we defile and destroy that which births us, we will soon die out.

This current crisis of sexual abuse is an incredible opportunity to make the shadow conscious, to speak out, to take action and to begin our collective healing journey.

~ by Azra Bertrand, M.D., co-founder of, co-author of Womb Awakening: Initiatory Wisdom from the Creatrix of All Lifewith Seren Bertrand