The Effects of Sexual Abuse on Women's Reproduction
During the hundreds of postpartum interviews of women on their birthing and lactation experiences, I often wondered if there was a relationship between childbirth and early childhood traumas. I decided I had to find out and enlisted the help of a community hospital and a sample of patients who were in the process of becoming mothers, what I call matrescence - and of course - patrescence.
I began researching sexual abuse to see how women who had been abused as children acted when they were in the stages of delivery. I was surprised during my own observation in the birthing room that some women in what should have been a joyful birthing experience were displaying behavior which puzzled me. Here was temporary but powerful intimacy in a birthing room among temporary acquaintances—the medical team—who seemed caring enough but bewildered when their patient suddenly turned aggressive or angry. Was their anger or aggression a response to certain body language or to the medical team itself during birthing linked to the sudden mood changes? I did have a hunch that the pain was not just of the moment, but that it must have been internalized from elsewhere.
In my journey towards awareness I also looked for answers to these sudden mood changes. I treated all my respondents pretty much the same, never dreaming that what I finally realized was far more complex and would take me into an entirely different set of parameters. I finally accepted the idea that I was finding a level of behavior that surpassed anything I had ever known. The ritual abuse that I discovered ran parallel to the general culture and created the most pathological actions imaginable.
It all came together when I went to the SMART (Stop Mind Control And Ritual Torture) conference on cults and found more than sixty survivors of ritual abuse. It was then that I began to understand what those women were experiencing. I had no idea that some of the women whom doctors described as uncooperative patients in the birthing room might have been ritual abuse survivors. I went back and studied all my earlier interviews and realized I had missed a whole level of understanding and that I would have to redo most of my large body of work.
To understand more fully the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and its effect on women's experience of childbirth and lactation, please see Penny Simkin's, "When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women." http://tinyurl.com/agxu7a2