EDUCATION AS A WEAPON BY CAROLINE WACHSMUTH

 

"It’s chaos out there. A mudslide of ugly stories on sexual harassment, abuse and other old, tacitly well kept secrets keep coming out of the dark.

Photo by Caleb Woods

I am one of so many who have experienced sexual abuse. In my case, it happened during most of my childhood. I have been on my healing journey ever since.

 

Psychotherapists and countless healers, a lot of love from my closest friends and a solid yoga practice have all helped me to live with the trauma that was inflicted upon me and to continue to heal my wounds. From this process, I would like to share my thoughts and suggest some ways that we, as a society, could work towards prevention.

Yes, we are now empowering ourselves by finally breaking the silence, pointing fingers and lashing out at sexual perpetrators. While we are doing that, what about also pondering how to effectively fight for active prevention? I believe that one of the imperative ways of truly uprooting these acts is through massive education.

Our neo-feminism revolution is in full bloom. Speech is liberated, we fight for equality, for changing the rules and redefining what it means to be respected as human beings. The task is monumental and we live in a society where politics, power trips and other arguable legal vocabulary get in the way of the oppressed. Harassment and abuse outside of the family unit is one particular issue, but at the same time and in a lot of cases, they are often rooted within it. Psychologically sick people are everywhere, whether at the most powerful positions or within our most trusted units, family, relatives and caregivers. In the particular case of child abuse, abusers are most often the victim’s parent. Thousands of children are abused every year. The consequences of sexual, physical or psychological abuse are multiple. In the best case, and if the child can access the help needed, healing is possible. But in other cases, the consequences can lead to unerasable psychological and physical traumas, addictions, death or the repetition of the abuse on others. 

We are now empowering ourselves by finally breaking the silence, pointing fingers and lashing out at sexual perpetrators. While we are doing that, what about also pondering how to effectively fight for active prevention?

So obviously, the task is monumental here too: child protective services agencies are doing an amazing job, but can only do so much. If we want to lower society’s chances of pollinating abusers of all sorts, then the entire educative system needs to be revolutionized, including introducing compulsory programs for child abuse prevention. We must educate young children differently and more carefully assess their emotional states from the very early stages, not just when they become teenagers. When is it taught at school that it is ok to be vulnerable, to open up? When are children taught to say whatever they feel? Why don’t we teach young boys they can cry and express their emotions? Rather than telling them to be strong and that boys don’t cry. Only anger, resentment and shame can come from this, resulting in aggressive and abusive behaviors later on. Ones that create walls, closed hearts, anger and violence.

How about also teaching the difference between what is healthy touch from what is not, and that no, it’s not ok if any parent, relative or caregivers touch you in inappropriate ways – and give examples of what inappropriate can be, maybe through role playing - telling you it’s a secret. That no, it’s not ok if your teachers or friends at school do that either. It’s not ok if it’s anyone. It’s not ok at all.

Parents and caregivers need to actively participate in those programs and understand that their children are protected by the educative system. Utopia? Maybe. But let us imagine if psychotherapists, social workers, healers and childhood specialists gathered to make their ways to education programs, this would be the beginning of healing at the root. Children can very well understand, if taught by childhood experts or healers in creative and healthy ways, the abyss into which other humans of any age can drag them, whether in the outside world or in the pseudo safety net of their families. If we start to make it an absolute priority, schools can then become a safe place where children can speak up about abuse of any sort, about their emotions and fears.

Children can very well understand, if taught correctly by childhood experts or healers in creative and healthy ways, the abyss into which other humans of any age can drag them, whether in the outside world or in the pseudo safety net of their families.

A child loves his or her parents unconditionally. Anything that a parent does is hardly questionable and even if it is, the fear of abandonment, rejection or abusive discipline is so high that a child will keep silent until he is strong enough, or feels supported in speaking up. When grown-up, the fear of speaking is proportional to that of being rejected, humiliated or considered crazy.

We have been caught into a system, a very sick norm that more often than not led us to believe our future and success depended on someone in power. But if at a very young age, we had been given the tools to detect sick behaviors, say no and protect ourselves, the whole society will start to taste different.

We love to say that 'we are one'. So, let’s build on the momentum we have right now to make this become a reality. And make it last."

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Some resources and recommendations regarding education as a tool to help prevent or heal from sexual abuse: 

The Child Abuse Prevention Center

The Prevent Child Abuse Organization

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Energy Healing with Reiki Master and Bodywork Therapist Caroline Vigery


Caroline Wachsmuth

About the author: Beauty alchemist and bespoke fragrance designer Caroline Wachsmuth divides her time between San Francisco, New York and Paris. In 2013 she published Seasons, a compilation of year-round beauty recipes and health rituals. As a creative, Caroline works with select brands and private clients to create skincare, body care, fragrance and beauty products, from concept to manufacturing. Caroline’s background, studies and cultural exposure combined with the healing art of her Ashtanga yoga practice result in a singular, holistic vision in regard to beauty and self-care.

Read Caroline's Expert interview online here