Many clients we serve have a history of trauma, and so often they experience a painful preoccupation with their relationship to their bodies, as well as the experience their body has navigating in the world. In society today, we are inundated with mixed messages about “good” vs “bad” when it comes to food, diet, and how our bodies “should look.” These messages come from our friends, families, the media, pornography, and the list goes on. Messages that tell us to hate the bodies we live in are everywhere. Respecting our bodies seems more and more difficult.
For survivors of sexual trauma, this is damaging and interferes with their ability to heal. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, “traumatic experiences, especially those involving interpersonal violence [such as sexual assault], have been found to be a significant risk factor for the development of a variety of psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders”. For those who have experienced sexual trauma, eating disorder behaviors can develop, and specifically, feelings of body shame, disgust, and dissociation from one’s body.
Dr. Linda Bacon, researcher and author of “Body Respect” and “Health At Every Size” takes this a step further, explaining, “by stigmatizing fat – and fat bodies – this “war on obesity” is creating stress and supporting discrimination” of bodies. She supports a Health At Every Size value, and is a leader in this social justice movement. Health At Every Size is an “evidence-based corrective to the epidemic of bad science and body shame”. It is a paradigm committed to advancing social justice and respecting the diversity of human bodies, aiming to challenge weight bias, fat phobic views, and offers an “alternative path to compassionate and effective health care”.
Being educated about body respect and the Health At Every Size movement can help in respecting our bodies. I (Sarah) am educated and trained in these areas and work with my clients in a truly inclusive, trauma-sensitive manner, removing any underlying weight stigma or microaggressions about one’s body. Working with sexual trauma survivors, I want to promote body diversity, honoring all the differences in human attributes.
Consider these questions:
- How would you describe your relationship to your body?
- When you really think about it, what words come to mind?
- Are the words Compassion, Love, Respect, Strength?
- Are the words something more like Ugly, Lazy, Disgusting?
What if we could acknowledge the struggles our bodies go through when navigating life? What if we acknowledged that our bodies are constantly being pressured to reach an unreachable goal of “perfection”, and how unfortunate that is, and what if we could love our bodies, thanking them even, for what they have kept us alive through?
If you or someone you know struggles with respect for your or their body, if you battle eating disorders or body image plagues your sense of self, or if you’re a survivor of sexual trauma and want to break free of the pain and suffering, there is help. I would like to meet you and discuss how we can move forward. Together.