Sexual Violence: Healing Trauma with Yoga?

We have previously posted blogs from our guest blogger  Susan Austin about the benefits of  Yoga its breathing and meditation techniques  in order to reduce stress.  But, can this ancient practice really help victims of sexual violence?

A recent interview by Jeremy Hobson in Here & Now’  with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist and renowned trauma expert and author of  “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” lends further support for Susan’s recommendations.

In the interview, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, who has been treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other types of trauma for more than 40 years explains the benefits of a yoga practice for PTSD survivors.

“Trauma is an experience that overwhelms your capacity to cope. People feel helpless, overwhelmed, scared, horrified; at the core of trauma is horror.” Dr. Bessel van der Kolk research found, “Yoga was more effective than any medication… medication can be quite nice to sort of dampen some of the symptoms. But in the end, people need to own their bodies, they need to own their physical experiences. And, in order to overcome your trauma, it needs to be safe to go inside and to experience yourself.”

As we have seen in representing in civil cases hundreds of  victims of sexual violence, and as echoed by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, “Nobody can “treat” a war, or abuse, rape, molestation, or any other horrendous event, for that matter; what has happened cannot be undone. But what can be dealt with are the imprints of the trauma on body, mind, and soul: the crushing sensations in your chest that you may label as anxiety or depression; the fear of losing control; always being on alert for danger or rejection; the self-loathing; the nightmares and flashbacks; the fog that keeps you from staying on task and from engaging fully in what you are doing; being unable to fully open your heart to another human being.”

Yoga is certainly a non-invasive method of stress reduction. Give it a try.


The Law Office of Tahira Khan Merritt stands ready to help you with your legal needs. We have exclusively represented victims of sexual violence in civil cases against institutions that have aided and abetted perpetrators such as, churches, schools, universities and colleges, daycare centers, youth camps, scouting organizations, military schools and the like since 1996.

You may confidentially contact our office at 214-503-7300 or through our website :

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