Body Sense

Summer 2011

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ory of mASSAge from AbuSe By Linda Maureen Sanches surviving the impact of motional abuse as a child, ze that bodywork was the of my recovery. I knew it I had saved what I thought most difficult piece of I could no longer avoid it. the time was seeing a well- pist, Susan, for therapeutic would come home raving about y of my women friends saw all complimented her work. uraged me to schedule an Susan, but I would cry just inally, I agreed to test the h him to his next appointment t watch. Nothing more. Sence n, I intuitively knew she was presence was gentle and soft-spoken and something in ow her smile was genuine. She make myself comfortable while essed for his massage. As he le, I noticed the care Susan took his nudity. Unaware of the practices of massage therapists, e the way Susan lifted the sheet ving privacy to my husband for him to turn over on the table. incredibly respectful gesture it was. When the massage ended, Susan and I talked and scheduled an appointment for myself. I was still faced with the question: how was I going to allow someone to touch me and possibly unleash my greatest terrors I had kept quarantined for so long? How could I ever allow myself to be so vulnerable? The answer was to approach it in the same way I had made other risky decisions. I insisted on concrete rules, conditions, and boundaries. Susan would have to respect and agree to my conditions. She would have to talk with me and deeply hear me before she ever laid a hand on my body. If she couldn’t pass this first test, it would be over. Neither she nor anyone else would be given another chance. I told my husband I would go, but only if he would go with me, and I made him promise not to leave the room. SofTening THe Armor My first session with Susan seems funny now. I would only allow her to touch the broad of my back—one square foot, to be exact. She wasn’t permitted to reach over my shoulders, go below my waist, or even touch my hands or feet. I kept my underwear on and laid facedown. Even in the restricted area in which I gave her to work, Susan was mindful to keep checking in with me. I would hear her softly sigh from time to time as if she felt my deeply buried pain, even though I had not yet told her anything about my background. She gave occasional words of reassurance and I managed to get through an entire hour on the table. Afterward, Susan told me my back felt like armor, which she sensed was both physical and emotional protection for my heart. My muscles had almost no give to them. Clearly, she wasn’t going Massage Helps Lessen Effects of Abuse A study conducted by Tiffany field and the Touch research institute found that after receiving a 30-minute massage twice a week for one month, women who had experienced sexual abuse were less depressed and less anxious, and their salivary cortisol levels decreased after each session. The relaxation therapy control group also reported a decrease in anxiety and depression, but their stress hormones did not change, and they reported an increasingly negative attitude toward touch. The results were reported in the summer 2011 Body Sense 9 a n j vo eu mr en na t T m l o f d o b ro ad py iw so . e r h e k

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