How to Honor Male Survivors and Resolving the Compounding Effects of Sexual & Racial Trauma from the Body  



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I got to know Becky through several Facebook group forums dedicated to resolving various forms of trauma and was struck by her insights, unique perspective, and depth of expertise.  When we connected live, we found much common ground in our similar understanding about the multi-layered nature, causes and effects of trauma, as well as somatic approaches to resolving these from the body.  I am inspired by her journey and the wisdom she holds space with in service to her clients and our society. 

Becky is a trauma therapist with 20+ years experience in helping both women and men heal the wounds of relational trauma that occur in-utero and beyond.  She is a member and presenter with the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, a Somatic Experiencing Therapist and is Trained in Transformative Touch Therapy.  Becky specializes in treating Racial Trauma, Sexual Trauma and has a special dedication to supporting adoptees and their families.  Becky facilitates the Men’s Trauma Collective, a group for male survivors of sexual trauma. Becky presents in the community on various topics including Somatic Impact of Systemic Racial Trauma.

We explore: 


“It wasn’t until I got in my own body, and did the work to see where I was holding the stories, the narratives, what were pre-verbal… that I could understand the depth of what I’d experienced, what was stuck in my body, where my fight response was drawn to,… and so that embodied work led me to the somatic focus in all of these areas..”  


How Becky’s relationship with her Father informed her curiosity, compassion, and inquiry about traumatized, vulnerable men and led to her supporting and empowering men to advocate for their needs.


How receiving regulation support from a safe co-regulated other, and receiving somatic touch in support of the vagus nerve can help transform trans-generational and pre-verbal traumas and their effects on the body’s unconscious responses from a lot of “I don’t knows” to “my body is telling me this.”


How to recognize and identify unconscious bodily responses that do not correlate with what is occurring in the present moment as clues to whether sexual violations may have been experienced pre-verbally. 


How challenges unique to male sexual trauma survivors can include feeling isolation, a lack of professional understanding & resources, and minimizing the sexual traumas of young men or boys as rites of passage.  


How the intersection of racism, sexual violation, and/or of being the “other” can compound the injury, shame and defense responses within the body’s nervous system, and can lead to habitual “fawning” or “appease” responses in social and sexual interactions. 


How a body’s nervous excitement from engaging in new sexual activity can become confused with nervous anxiety from a sympathetic fear arousal response triggered from past traumas.  


How a lack of professionally-trained somatic experts – who have the lived experiences and understanding of how compounding racial and sexual aggressions can affect behavior, embodiment and life choices – is part of the systemic challenge of providing all of our society with effective resources. 

Rahi: Welcome to Organic Sexuality, where we explore the restoration of pleasure, the reclamation of sexual sovereignty and the realization of our embodied sexual nature. An invitation to honor the pleasures of your body by embodying the pleasures of your nature. I'm your host, Rahi Chun. I'm a Certified Somatic Sex Educator, Sexological Bodyworker and creator of Somatic Sexual Wholeness. In today's episode, we welcome Becky Carter, Somatic Experiencing therapist and trauma specialist, whose areas of expertise includes resolving pre-verbal and trans-generational trauma, resolving sexual trauma for all genders with a particular expertise with men, understanding the somatic effects of racial trauma, and working with adoptees and their families. How can we identify pre-verbal or trans-generational trauma in the body? What are issues more specific to male sexual trauma survivors? How does the intersection of racial and sexual abuse and aggressions felt by marginalized communities have a compounding effect on the nervous system? We explore Becky's work with these themes and populations and her experiences and insights for how to hold a safe space for the resolution

Rahi: Today. I'm very excited to welcome Becky Carter to the podcast, Becky and my paths.. It's really interesting. It's almost like the universe wanted our paths to cross, and I'm so excited and grateful that it has, it was really delightful to recognize how so many of our areas of interest and specialties overlap. And I just love talking to her. Becky has been a trauma therapist with over 20 years of experience with very interesting focuses. So they include healing relational trauma that occur in-utero and beyond with a special expertise with repairing complex trauma dissociation and sexual abuse. She has a special dedication for supporting adoptees and their families and facilitates groups for both male and female sexual abuse survivors, and also leads workshops on healing the wounds from systemic racial trauma somatically. Becky identifies as bi-racial, cis-gender, trans-racially adopted female with ancestors from West Africa and from Sicily, and serves as a therapist at the family resilience group in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The website, there is family Becky, thank you so much for joining us today. Welcome.

Becky: Thanks so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be here and I do love that the universe has aligned us into this, this moment in this conversation, I'm looking forward to it.

Rahi: Yes, yes. Me too. I've been looking forward to it for months now after our conversation. Becky, I wanted to start by - just so our audience has a sense of your journey and your background specifically, in regards to these really interesting areas of expertise. Can you share a little bit about your journey and how these areas of interest and expertise evolved and led you to doing a deep dive in these different areas?

Becky: Yeah, definitely. And it's interesting because I do think that I have not necessarily consciously chosen all of these paths. I think they've chosen me, you know, in terms of what I was going to study, what I was... populations I wanted to work with. You know, I definitely feel like as I've looked at the last, you know, I'd say decade of my life and I've really been honing things in a little bit more with my work. Like it's all come into my field of reference. And then, I feel like the clients come to me, the topics come to me and then I'm able to sustain in those areas and supporting populations, specific vulnerable populations. What I've come to realize though, is that it's all really connected to my past experiences, my past traumas, things that I've been trying to figure out for myself, you know, I was adopted into my family, you know, a biracial, um, 10 month old going into an all white family.

Becky: And prior to that, adoption had spent a short amount of time in foster care. But during that time went through what my body has come to tell me and relationally I've come to known as a, you know, a combination, most likely of sexual and physical abuse. And so really landing into a very unique situation of being parented by people who don't look like you, right? Um, in a world that oppresses brown people, right? With some early developmental injuries and the primal wound of adoption. And then I think a long journey of getting to know and understand my father, who is - also a man who struggled for different reasons. Um, he's now deceased, but I had a very, uh, intentional, uh, kind of attachment relationship with my father. You know, it was very fearful of men going into my adoptive family. And it took, took a long time for me to be able to trust my father.

Becky: And then we had a bit of a tumultuous relationship, as a result of his drinking. Um, but then came to this beautiful place where, in our later, his later years of life, my years, it was really starting to kind of hone in on what I was going to be doing in the trauma field as a clinician, of just recognition of each other, embracing each other, understanding each other, our complexities. And so for a long time, I've had a lot of curiosity about traumatized vulnerable men, right. And how to build relationships and advocate for my needs, with men and then also to support men and advocating for their needs. And, um, and also I think just the journey of, you know, not knowing my birth father, not knowing my birth family and kind of seeking relationship and attachment with my adoptive father when things were a little more challenging.

Becky: So now that, you know, I look back, I can see where all of these focuses, you know, have emerged from. And then it was just a little bit about getting to the place where I'd done enough of my own therapy to realize how I wanted to work with some of these populations, adoptees, male survivors, sexual trauma, racial trauma, and that it really needed to be in an embodied way because it wasn't until I got in my own body and did the work to see where I was holding the story, the narratives, what was pre-verbal, what was, you know, traumas for later on my life that it wasn't until I touched into my nervous system and my own body, that I could understand, um, the depth of what I've experienced, what stuck in my body, um, where my fight response was drawn to. And, um, and so that embodied work really led me to the somatic focus in all of these areas.

Rahi: Wow. That's really fascinating. Becky, thank you for sharing all of that. There's so many things there that I, that I want to follow up with. One of the things that stands out and that's really fascinating is how you were able to somatically recognize, identify and work with a dysregulated nervous system from traumas that were pre-cognitive. It seems to like that is one of the areas that, that you work with addressing repairing trauma, either in utero, or it even sounds like trans-generationally, that shows up in someone's nervous system. So I was curious about the TTT - transformative touch therapy that, you know, I'm fascinated with the DNA research that that's coming out that is showing how in our DNA, you know, past trauma, trans-generational trauma is carried from one generation to the other. Can you speak to how you facilitate that experience of clients who have - whose behavior indicates that there's some trauma either trans-generationally or pre-memory and how you work with that for clients to help resolve that from their nervous system?

Becky: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I'm going to do my best here. Right. So one of the things that I learned from Steve Tarell who developed this model of transformative touch therapy with a training, he has titled transforming the experience-based brain, which I love that, right. That the brain is holding an experience that there's not a verbal, you know, awareness of. And so one of the things that I've - he says is that when you are working with a client who's clearly struggling and brings you a lot of, I don't knows. Right. And it, you know, it, and it may be something that you might think as a therapist that, well, you know, I could kind of extrapolate just from what you're telling me, like, what might be going on for you, but they seem very stuck. Right? They're stuck in an, I don't know - that there's something they're trying to access, that they can't access.

Becky: There's some barrier there, or that, um, there, when you're talking to them, you almost have a sense that there's a very young part that is starting to show up in the room. And, for me that as a therapist, it kind of shows up in my own system as I I'm kind of drawn to a more nurturing energy. I feel a little bit more like I I'm, wanting to bring a different tenderness or gentleness to the dialogue. I can see almost the embodiment in some clients of going into younger parts, maybe their hands go from being open to kind of fisted like we do when we're little, or they might curl up a little bit in their chairs. They're talking almost becomes smaller. Um, and, and so that you're starting to see that there's an embodiment and that there is something that is being held in the nervous system that the client's not aware of, but, but there's clearly something that is, creating distress to be accessed.

Becky: And so, the work is really just allowing for these very slow titrated moments, a little bit at a time of allowing for clients to, to start to consider that their body has a story to tell. Right. And doing that in a way that you are helping them access what their body might be trying to tell them while also resourcing them in the present moment of therapy and that attachment. Right. And so that, you know, I notice, you know, there's a small kind of, movement that you're doing with your body. You know, it looks like there's a lot of vulnerability there. And at the same time, you're here with me, you know, and this adult body, and we're, you know, there's an attachment here. There's things that we've secured in this therapeutic relationship to ground you, as you start to go back into these very vulnerable moments and that once we have enough safety in the therapeutic relation, we could relationship, we can touch into those parts of the nervous system, literally with our hands to support regulation.

Becky: Um, so that the client isn't forced to have to talk through it, right? So we support the kidney adrenals, right. We support the brainstem right at which connects to that Vagus nerve that flows down through our body and all our vital organs that, you know, that can tense up and kind of get constrained in response to trauma, right. Um, that we support the, the vagus nerve, we support joints, right. Um, things that help us feel more embodied and anchored and resourced. And so, it's just a very slow going of supporting regulation and allowing clients to go from, I don't know, to "my body's telling me this," right. And me noticing that your body's doing this in response to a certain type of stress or activation or a threat and supporting a settle in the body with a safe co-regulating other.

Rahi: That is so beautiful, the way you described that. Um, I mean, it's really creating that safe sanctuary for the inner child or inner infant to feel safe enough to really be present and to be witnessed, and then to bring the kinds and quality of support that was probably lacking. And for those who are listening and, uh, not seeing when, when Becky says support the cranial base or the kidney adrenals, um, it is supporting with touch and it's a simple, it's simple, but so profound when an infant or a child is in need. And is feeling not secure. Just having that presence in, in touch, uh, can be profoundly reparative. Becky, I want to ask you since this, I mean, I'm fascinated with all of this, but because the podcast focuses on sexual health and wholeness, what are the kinds of... Well, I'm curious. So for you, you know, you had mentioned that there were indications that there may have been sexual or physical abuse when you were in foster care, whether it's your own situation or what you witnessed with your clients, for people listening, who may suspect that something inappropriate or violations may have happened, pre memory, um, how do you recognize some of these things show up in your clients?

Becky: Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that, uh, I noticed for myself is that I would have certain embodied reactions to different types of situations. And, um, so whether it was different medical procedures that I had to go through, or, you know, situations where I was experiencing pain in the body with uncertainty, right. And having a very visceral, embodied, panicked reaction, you know, with a lot of shut-down and constriction of things like the kidney adrenals and all the things that we don't need when we are in fight mode, right. We don't need, to be using our GI system as much when we are going into fight mode. Right. And so recognizing that when I came into contact with something threatening, that my GI system, my body would just kind of shut down and give out a little bit. Right. You know, and collapse underneath the presence of a perceived threat, right.

Becky: Or perhaps a trigger. Um, so it was that my body would have this very reflexive reaction that wasn't necessarily matching what was going on in my life. Right. And so reflexive that it's not like I could stop it. Right. It just happens. Right. And then the shame that would come with that. Right. But working through - wait,, your body has something to say here in response to certain contexts or interactions, you know, you have this you know, the somatic reaction and noticing that in my clients too, that, they, you know, it would look a little bit like a client saying that they're, they notice when they go into an intimate relationship, a sexually intimate relationship that, you know, they, they might notice a reflexive constriction in the body or certain parts of the body, or that the pelvis always, you know, the pelvic floor all seems a little strained, a little bit tight, or they may find that, you know, they float outside of the body and disconnect and associate a little bit, or there's a coupling of, instead of, you know, somebody doing something which should be sexually pleasurable, that the body receives it as painful.

Becky: So that there's a coupling of pleasure and pain, instead of, you know, I'm going to do something that ideally, you know, a partner within could feel good for the other person. And induce pleasure or arousal you know, it reduces pain and it induced kind of a shutdown or a collapse, um, even in the sexual system. So those are some examples.

Rahi: Great examples. Yeah. And what I'm recognizing in what you're sharing Becky, is that to recognize how the body is going into protective, defensive, or shutdown mode, it does require a certain level of awareness in one's embodiment. And, you know, I mean, I think part of the irony is, is, you know, I think, I think so many of us do avoid feeling in our bodies when it is unpleasant - for good reason. I mean, overwhelm of shame, and, you know, people obviously numb themselves with various, you know, there's so many means to numb ourselves here in this society, but to really recognize, and to start that healing journey, it does require one to pay attention to their body and their body signals and what it is the body has to say.

Becky: Yes. And it is extremely difficult after sexual trauma and most traumas, it's difficult to look at the body reaction, but especially after sexual trauma and that so much of the work is allowing for the body to speak and the client to stay with what the body is trying to tell them without becoming overwhelmed. Right. So creating enough, embodied resources, where new body, do you normally feel positive, where in your body do sometimes maybe feel a little bit lighter, safer, um, less pain, less fear, um, and it may be as much as the tiny little finger tip, right? Or is there something outside of you outside of your body that you notice anchors you and feels good? And can you just take a moment to take whatever that is in and just peak into your body's response to positive resourcing, right. And that if we can get to know what our body does and, you know, reflexively in some less overwhelming ways and less activating ways, becomes a little bit easier to look at how our body holds pain and trauma. And, and to hear the stories that our body wants to tell us - that can give us a lot of ideas about how to heal and how to repair and you know, what the antidote to all that pain is going to be to surface. Yeah.

Rahi: Yeah. The, the infinite wisdom of the body really, really can guide us in our healing journey. It's really, uh, um, I love the underscoring, the importance of finding that where your body is resourced, um, and where you are resourced relationally as well to support that body resource. Um, and the irony. I mean, I've shared this in other podcasts. Cause I see it often, it's like when someone has had a pattern of let's say an unhealthy or violent relationship, and finally they get to a safe relationship. That's when the trauma feels safe enough to come to the surface. And sometimes it can be very confusing to the person when all they're feeling all of this emotion, that's just been buried, but it actually it's the safety of this new relationship. And it could be the resource of a therapeutic relationship, certainly as well, where so much repair happens. Becky, I want to add, I want to shift and ask you in your work with groups of men and sexual trauma, it's so touching and it makes so much sense how your dynamic and relationship with your father, um, has led you to this deep empathy and, and desire and curiosity to understand the challenges within men essentially, and in your work with male sexual trauma survivors, what are the unique challenges to men who have experienced sexual trauma and don't know what to do about it?

Becky: Well, I think one of, and it's, it's, it, it always kinda gets me, you know, kind of sad to think that one of the unique challenges is just recognizing trauma's there, because I think for a lot of male survivors, what, what they experienced that was traumatizing, uh, was either incredibly minimized or it was looked at as some kind of Rite of passage that, oh, you know, you, you know, you're so young to have the, you know, the sexual experience and, and lucky you, right? Lucky you that, you know, you were able to experiment sexually, right. In situations that, um, other, other little boys or young men didn't get too right. And there's this misinterpretation of early young sexual interactions for boys and men as being something that they should, you know, be proud of. And I, you know, I, I fault our society for, for sending that message.

Becky: and I think so for some of the men I've worked with, it's been about recognizing that was not okay. Right. First of all, you know, looking at the relational dynamic in which the sexual abuse occurred, looking at, uh, kind of where they were developmentally, how much manipulation and coercion was there, and helping them understand that they were a victim of something that something was done to them that shouldn't have been happening. Right. And all the ways in which their body has stored that, this sense of - that wasn't okay. Right. And your body's letting you know that wasn't okay. You know, um, it's showing up relationally, you know, in your adult life that everything that you went through was not okay in terms of the struggles you have. And so, so there's the initial recognition, which is challenging there's, this belief that there's actually people out there in the therapy world who, can address this issue.

Becky: Right. I think a lot of men feel like, oh, you know, most sexual trauma therapists work with women, right. They don't, and you know, that kind of concern that there won't be an understanding of the unique complexities that men are going to bring. Most of the men I've worked with, uh, they're in my office initially because there's anger. Right. Um, they've been betrayed somehow and it's triggered a kind of some memories or kind of a repression, uh, things that have been repressed are starting to surface regarding sexual trauma. And so, creating spaces where men can feel like they could disclose some, something that was sexually violating. Right. And how, and how is therapists? We're always thinking about that, right? That if, if we have, you know, eight to 10 male clients on our caseload, are we considering if they haven't disclosed that per perhaps statistically two or three of those might be survivors and are we, are we speaking in a way that would allow for something that vulnerable and that shame inducing to be disclosed? And so that's really tricky. And, and just knowing that, you know, there's other men out there, I think a lot of men feel incredibly isolated that, you know, other men are not talking about this. They're not, um, or, or that there's a, they will be judged even if they come into a group context by the other men in the group. Or they've been judged by therapist or men there's situations have been minimized by therapists in the past. So lot of barriers, the biggest is like for most trauma shame. Yeah.

Rahi: Yes. Yeah. It's really interesting as you're sharing all this, I'm just having these memories of, um, of PE during junior high school. And at that tender age, when a boy's body is turning into a young man's body, how much peer pressure there is to prove that you'er manly and, um, just how much bullying and rising, you know, raising and all of that. And so I can so, so easily see how these abuses of power dynamics when one is a young boy or a young man can be chocked up as a Rite of passage, or even as something to show off about when in fact the effect in the person's body is a shutdown, is an inability to have a healthy erection or, uh, or, or invite intimacy.

Becky: Yeah. And to not be there's so much, uh, especially depending on age of trauma that, you know, if you're starting to get curious about your body, if you're starting to, you know, things are shifting hormonally and yeah, you're shifting and growing and changing and there's hair and things are getting bigger and the voice is changing and, and, and you have feelings you didn't have before. And that right, when all those things are awakening and ideally kind of blossoming, you know, the ideal situation is you are, you're not shamed with all those developmental changes as a man. You're, you know, it's celebrated, you get to have conversations about, um, you know, and, and, and what you're and the normalization of everything you're feeling. And if right at that time, um, you are either by, you know, another male or even female.

Becky: I mean, the majority of my survivors that I work with, the male survivors also have female perpetrators. If you're, if you are being treated in a way that, you know, right at this time where you're coming into kind of a sexual awareness that you are having to compromise things that don't feel good to you, right. Boundaries are being thwarted. And violated if you are being, um, you starting to get confused about things that feel good, but also feel painful at the same time. And that the things that your body's naturally doing, like having an erection or ejaculating in a situation that is terrifying, right. What that creates an adulthood, that every time I become aroused and I get excited, I am terrified. Right. And the challenges that creates in relationships for men, and that often is, comes in the door and in the best of my group experiences, that's what, you know, when, when, when survivors has spent enough time together can talk about those incredibly vulnerable pieces.

Rahi: I imagine the healing that happens when members of the group recognize their own experience, being reflected in someone else's share like that, you know, like something so vulnerable and, you know, uh, you know, to a lot of people embarrassing as ejaculating when they're in an intimate situation. And it's all based on that initial imprint, I think imprints are so powerful, our first, whatever it is. Um, and, you know, I'm, I'm working with a colleague whose kind of specialty is all around touch receptors and our very first touch imprints that happen and how that can really lay a foundation for patterns into adulthood. Becky, just for listeners, if they're a male listeners who are being inspired by this, how can they find male support groups, the kind that you, or that you facilitate? Like what, what's a way for men to find support groups like that?

Becky: I'm going to be honest, that's very hard, but by the time people landed in my office or, you know, on my zoom calls, it was after lots of searching. You know, there are several different organizations, websites that are, have been doing ongoing support for male survivors. There's, there's one in, male You know, I am one of, probably like two other therapists in the Chicago land area who run groups for male survivors of sexual trauma. We all know about each other because there's so few of us. And, there's a lot of platforms where you can do things online, or you can do things through, you know, chat rooms or things like that. But finding spaces where you can do in-person or more intimate zoom work, therapeutic work is, is a lot harder. Uh, one, because it's just hard to find men who have the courage, right.

Becky: Um, and the capacity to try that, it's terrifying to think about disclosing much less in front of other men, much less to sign on for several weeks to process ongoing shame-inducing things. So I tend to do this thing where, you know, three peoples a group. So if I can get three, you know, and I will start it. Whereas I think what I've seen in the community, which has been a struggle is that people wait until they can get seven or eight people. Well, one just a lot gets missed because you can't track, you can't, you know, get a sense of somatically. What's showing up, you know, embodied reactions and those wonderful moments where you see clients reacting to each other. And, and that can be a moment for co-regulation and support - that gets missed. So I tend not to go above five or six in my groups. Um, ideally, you know, I think we're, we're getting there. I think a lot of these organizations are also trying to come together to have farther reach, but, it's tough to find.

Rahi: Yeah. Yeah. Um, so I really want to talk about the intersection of sexual trauma and racial trauma, because I feel like, I feel like because we live in a racialized, systemicly racist environment. I mean, the structures that we live in are, uh, have been influenced, by our history in that way. There's so much great work out there now documenting the effect of micro-aggressions in our environment, you know, you and I spoke about how this really trains our fawn response. If we're a minority growing up as far as, you know, needing to feel safe and accepted. Um, I'm really curious about what you've recognized as far as the intersection of a nervous system that has endured a racialized environment. And when that intersects with sexual trauma. And I don't know how to word my question, Becky, I'm just curious about that intersection.

Becky: Yeah. And I, I know what you're asking. Right. You're trying to form the question and I think they there's so many, many intersections, right? So we think about sexual trauma, it's an, it's an oppressive sexual experience. Right. And it can have very coercive manipulative components to it. Right. It can be covert, sexual trauma can feel a little bit kind of like, you know, they can be what seemed like subtle sexual innuendos or exposure to sexual things over time, in ways that may not feel very direct, but have a direct impact, right? Like a microaggression. So sexual trauma can have those pieces and it can also be very direct and very overt. And, um, and I think that if you've grown up in a brown or a black body, if you've grown up a minority, if you've grown up, you know, neuro-divergent, or you, uh, feeling othered for your life, if you're part of the LGBTQ population, that there's a sense of always having to be more vigilant, always having to kind of, uh, feeling a little detached from, removed from, uh, the majority, whatever the majority is in your community, your situation.

Becky: And so, so if you've, if you've grown up with that, isolation right, and if you grow up feeling like you have more vulnerability, one, it could be more likely that you are targeted by sexual predators. Right. Also it is what I call kind of like a compound injury. So you're not only are you experiencing the oppression of racial trauma, systemic racism, that of your, you know, your, your current experience and your ancestors, but you're also experiencing right. Um, the oppression of a sexual trauma on top of that. So it's very compound, right? So it's, so it's shame of me. I could say for myself, speaking for myself and what some of my clients of color have expressed that also have sexual trauma that, so there's the shame of I'm in the skin, but I, I didn't choose the skin I'm in the skin. And I am living in a world that has decided for some reason, because of the color of my skin, I'm more threatening.

Becky: I'm not as safe. Right. And, and because of that, um, I will not be afforded as much opportunity in the systems that a white body might be afforded. Right. So, so there's that piece. So not only am I kind of in this skin that creates some vulnerability for me, but I have been violated in the skin and in this body, you know, um, physically or sexually. Right. And so it's, it's a really a compound shame - it's compounded shame that you were really working with and helping survivors find when they, whether it's a racial trauma or sexual trauma, when they are in a piece, right. When they are fawning and just saying something, uh, that they may not really believe to get out of a threatening situation. Right. Um, uh, doing something to please others so that you can stay safe. Right. And so, you know, really helping you know, with both of these types of trauma, helping survivors find voice, find choice, find moments they feel like they're witnessed, not oppressed, right, where they have volitional interactions, right. And where they are seen with that voice in the body and the skin that they're in and that the heard. Right. Um, so that's a lot of overlap there.

Rahi: Yeah. A lot of overlap and the word compound really stood out because that really succinctly describes it. I'm just struck by, for example, the fawn response in order to feel safe in life, in one school, growing up in social groups, all of that, it can become so ingrained in one's social behavior pattern that, you know, when it comes to crossing one sexual boundaries, I'm guessing that one's habitual fawn response leads one to be more susceptibility to having their boundaries overstepped, um, you know, because of that, just ingrained pattern of wanting to be accepted, um, for

Becky: Survival.

Rahi: Yeah.

Becky: To please other, for survival. And at, at the sacrifice of what you know, is, feels safe and embodied right. For the person going through it. And that can happen just to kind of in communicating and relationships and getting needs met, emotionally too, you know, sexually, you know, and in sexually intimate interactions of, you know, overriding one's comfort with something. And then this tricky piece of, you know, not wanting to pathologize what might be a little bit more unique kind of sexual interactions and allowing, uh, cause sometimes, you know, what can be exciting sexually is also can create a little bit of nervousness and how to help survivors when you know, so much of excitement and arousal has been so overlapped with nerve a negative sense of nervousness, right? Not like kind of, this is kind of new and exciting. I'm nervous. This might be fun for me sexually versus this is creating a nervous fear in my body that might lead to a shutdown or a fight response, right. Or a freeze response or flight response and it's, and, and helping clients sort out in an embodied way when there's body is really saying yes, over versus when their body's in an ambivalent place with something sexually. And when it's really in their no. Right. And helping them find their no. And their yes.

Rahi: Yeah. That distinction is so, so important to really discern within one's body. If there is a history of trauma, when a nervous system arousal response is a legitimate response based on one safety in the moment. And when it is a sexually invited response that is sexually arousing and kind of pinging or triggering a habitual nervous system response. Yeah.

Becky: Yeah. And that the part of the brain that's connected with fear is also the part of the brain that's connected with arousal and, and how we distinguish that. Right. And so for some of my clients, if they're comfortable with it, um, you know, masturbation is a bit of, a triggering topic for sexual trauma survivors. But if they're comfortable with it, I will have them start not with engaging with a partner in sexual experiences to try to sort out what feels safe and what doesn't, but I'll actually have them experiment through masturbation. And when they experience even just certain types of self touch, you know, what they notice their body doing in reaction to that, they have control of whether they, you know, decrease the pressure, you know, add pressure disconnect, right. and starting to get a sense of what happens in their, their whole system, but especially their pelvic floor in response to touch any type of touch, you know, and then giving permission to clients who don't want to have sexual experiences to not have them. Right. And that sometimes mastering your sense of sexual self is saying, I have a right to say no all the time. Right. And owning that,

Rahi: You know, I want to, I want to bring something up. And that is just to recognize the challenging landscape that is out there. Becky, I feel like, so not only are, are certain nervous systems compromised, um, racially and, and sometimes trained into a fawn response. But then once one recognizes, oh, you know, there are patterns in my system that have been developed as a result of sexual trauma, combined with racial trauma. Who's out there to support me. That's another barrier, right? Because like, people, like you are very rare who can understand, you know, this, the compounding of these influences. And so, you know, I think there are a lot of people out there who just think, oh, this is just me - not realizing, you know, these very systemic phenomenons and realities in our environment and how they do compound to create certain obstacles in our intimacy relational patterns and like your, like a diamond in the, like a rare breed out there. And so, um, I think that, but that's part of our systemic challenge, you know, it's like, you know, and I'm wondering how many people out there, uh, who do have this compounding effect in their embodiment when they're engaging sexually or intimately - feel like they're the only one, because there's no resource out there.

Becky: Yeah. I, and it, it, and this is the part that gets my foot response going, I get angry about it, right. Because I think we are, we need more therapists of color and we, in order for that, and, and, and, and trauma therapists, and who can, you know, specialize on these tracks, which takes a lot education, it's a lot of money, right. And that we have systems in place that don't make that as accessible. Right. And so I love to be a part of anything where it is about taking, you know, different, more diverse, uh, folks who are interested in learning the somatic model, learning about healing, the wounds of sexual trauma and doing anything that can help, provide a plat for them, for a platform, for them to get the education and to move through that and to get the expertise they need without financial barriers.

Becky: Right. without being oppressed through the whole process. Right. So that the systems that are in place to bring more of people like me into the world, so that survivors feel like they can access them - are still oppressing folks. So they don't feel like they can get to this place. So, so I think we have a long way to go. I don't know how much I'm answering your question, but, you know, I think, I'm always encouraging. Um, for me, I mean, it's a little biased because I, you know, I enjoy this work and I think we need more trauma therapists out there, sexual trauma therapists and ones of color and, and ones who have a sense of who've done their own work around how racial trauma sits within them. And, you know, we need more. And so anything I can do to encourage other therapists of color or other therapists who have been oppressed to come out of their appease and, and, um, access any, anything within this system that still is very racist that would allow them to get to the point where they can help others like us.

Becky: I encourage, but, um, we have a lot of work to do to make even the psychological field more, um, approachable and accessible to therapists of color.

Rahi: Yeah. Yeah.

Becky: I got it. I got on my, you know, I get up on a, uh, I still on that one. I really do.

Rahi: Yeah. Well, it means you're in the trenches and you see the,, I mean, you see the system as it is and what can be done to really open it up in order to provide the kind of resources that everyone should have access to and is so limited right now. And Becky, and, you know, I mean, here's the tricky thing is it's not just resources as far as money and education. It's, it's finding those people who have the somatic understanding to hold space for other people's somatic understandings. And there's nothing like being with someone, who, you know, understands what your body went through,

Becky: Or at least can create, an environment where understanding what the body's gone through is likely right. It can happen. Right. And, I think it's, it's crazy how much, you know, how many of my years I was a therapist and I was never really taking into consideration the body in an intentional way. And yet, and, and I got to a point where I would get stuck with people. I was like, something's missing here. Like why, you know, I know what's missing, you know, there's all these other things happening in the room that I don't have a way to help you dialogue and work through, which is what led me to the somatic field. Um, so I get excited because I see that we're at a place where, you know, the word sematic or the word embodied responses, it's more common. We're seeing it more often. We're seeing

Becky: In different hospital settings, treatment programs, that the somatic model is being brought in. And it's not, you know, it's not like some foo-foo thing out there. This is a scientifically based legitimate model of treating some really challenging traumatic experiences. And so, so I get excited by that. I get hopeful by that. And that there's a little bit more awareness of it. Uh, but that's, you know, for the, for the lay person out there, who's, um, less aware of, you know, what gets missed when you don't bring in that somatic piece. Um, you know, that's something that I think we still need to work on just when we talk about psychology in general, when we talk about trauma or mental health issues in general, we have to keep talking more directly about the body.

Rahi: Yeah. I mean, I feel like the most effective results that, you know, somatic therapies really provide, uh, my guess is that your, in your practice, you have people who've done talk therapy for years, and it's really the somatic work that, that invites their breakthroughs.

Rahi: Because as you say, you know, it is the stories that are unexpressed from the body and Becky, I, you know, during this conversation, I'm realizing what an incredible unique offering that your life set of experiences have informed you with. And yeah. How have you kind of metabolized that to hold space for such it's such a unique offering because you're, you're biracial, you were adopted and raised in a white family and you've traversed kind of the healing journey on so many different, well, really all kinds of trajectories that we spoke about, you know, healing from sexual trauma, from racialized trauma, and to do all of this with the embodied understanding that you have, um, I am very excited that you exist and that

Becky: I'm excited I exist, too. I can say that after years of this work.

Rahi: Yeah. Yeah. Um, yeah. What a, what a unique gift that you are and that, that you offer in your deep, deep dives into so much of this work that your body knows, and that you can reflect back and, and hold space for. It's really special.

Becky: Thank you. Thank you so much,

Rahi: Becky. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and insights with us today. Um, is there, is there anything that you feel like we missed because I know that like, um, in your bio, I know that working with, adoptees and families about adoptees is a special place in your heart. You have two children who you've adopted and we haven't touched on that. Is there, is there anything within the context of what we shared, because this is really about sexual wholeness? So, um,

Becky: You know, I think that just that really, if you are adopted or you work with adoptees, that when you have that primal, really early wound of being abandoned right by birth mother, that I think there is, that starts you in a different platform, kind of call it like the Tough start. Right. And how you navigate relationships with others, how you navigate your relationship with your body that's here when it was given up. Right. And, and, and that it there's, I don't think it's a surprise that, you know, I'm drawn into other, these other overlapping areas, because I think, you know, the experience of adoption is in essence, probably one of the most, you know, oppressive shame, inducing experiences, right. That you were born, and as a result of you being born, you were not kept. Right. And, and so the work around, coming out of the shame of that, out of the, you know, kind of the oppression of not being wanted right. And being okay with being, having survived, being alive, being embodied, all of that right. Is it's really important work. And, and yeah, that would probably be a whole other discussion, the adoption piece and the trainings I've done around that. But, um, but you know, but I'm here and I was adopted to, into a lovely family that nurtured the things in me so that I could be here doing this work and talking about these things and supporting others. So, yeah,

Rahi: Well, I must bow to them and bow to you and bow to your soul's journey for coming back in this form and, um,

Rahi: Really, you know, sharing your expertise and your wisdom with us. Thank you so much, Becky,

Becky: Thank you for having me.

Rahi: Notice how you're feeling in your body, right now, And amongst these feelings and sensations, what feels best in your body. And once you identify that, how about consciously taking in that goodness, Are there themes that Becky spoke about that you may want to explore for yourself? If you recognize subtle fawning or appeasing behavior patterns in social or sexual situations that do not honor your body's authentic desires, how might you receive the support of friends and loved ones to somatically re-imprint new patterns of voicing your authentic yeses and nos, taking the time to pause and choose what your body truly wants, or feel into your sense of embodied safety and resource, instead of succumbing to reflexive patterns of yesterday. And if you're interested in issues affecting male sexual trauma survivors, Becky is hosting a male survivors panel presentation called Out of the Silence. Sunday, December 5th, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM central time on zoom. You can register with becky at or visit her site, Becky Carter, or visit the show notes for more info. Until next time. Take good care.

Speaker 4:

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About the Show

We explore the restoration of pleasure, the reclamation of sexual sovereignty, and the realization of our organic sexual wholeness. We engage with leading somatic therapists, sexologists & sexological bodyworkers, and holistic practitioners worldwide who provide practical wisdom from hands-on experiences of working with clients and their embodied sexuality. We invite a deep listening to the organic nature of the body, its sexual essence, and the bounty of wisdom embodied in its life force.

Rahi Chun
Creator: Somatic Sexual Wholeness

Rahi is fascinated by the intersection of sexuality, psychology, spirituality and their authentic embodiment. Based in Los Angeles, he is an avid traveler and loves exploring cultures, practices of embodiment, and healing modalities around the world.