The Gilded Serpent presents...
Belly Dance and Healing from Sexual Trauma
by Lucy Lipschitz

Over the years, I've written and danced, hoping to encourage people to explore any trauma that has occurred in their personal life through this dance. I teach Belly dance from an historical and spiritual perspective so that my students can connect to their bodies on a very deep level. I believe that by using breath and correct posture, and performing the moves we use in belly dance, a person can help herself physically, spiritually, and emotionally through dance.

The main reason I teach this is because of my own issues and a major traumatic event that changed my life.

Now, for the first time in my life, I'm going to share my private story publicly, and tell it in more detail, which is quite intense: When I was 15 years old, I was kidnapped by the father of a child for whom I baby-sat, and I was beaten and raped during the course of several hours. I was choked, bitten, and punched many times all over my body, especially around my lower abdomen. Of course, there was a great amount of inner damage done to my sexual area. At one point, the rapist considered killing me and rolling my body into the canyon. I was able to talk him out of doing it! I talked and talked, and I called out to everything and everybody during the event and, eventually, at the end of it all, he took me home to my mother. That night, I used my words to save my life, and I realized that I understood that words have vast power. Words can bring magic and work miracles!

For me, the emotional and spiritual consequences were also devastating in the next few days. The police didn't believe me, and my mother called me, "Slut!" and "Whore!"

 There were other adults who believed me, however, including the medical doctor who saw me, gave me an antibiotic shot, and also a shot to stop my vaginal bleeding. I was seen by a therapist who believed me, and who cried when I told him what had happened! This dear man was also furious at the treatment I had received from law enforcement and my own mother. He did a background check on the man who had done this crime against me, and discovered how incredibly dangerous and violent he was. This perpetrator had an extensive felony record.

My therapist looked me in the eye, and with tears in his own said, "You are a very lucky and strong girl. He would have killed you; I'm convinced of that. But your words saved you. It was a miracle for you, Lucy!" Then he cried for me.

Over these many years, I've worked on all the issues that have been affected by this event. My life has wrapped around this like a tree growing around a large boulder near its trunk. Rather than give up and die, the tree just grows around it. The tree might change its shape, but it is still a living tree. I grew and wrapped around this hideous event; and my view on life and love has been affected by it. I've undergone therapy, cried lakes of tears, and yet, my life has continued onward, and it has been beautiful. I have fallen in love many times, am married, and have even been able to have children! I had a special Lakota Mourning Sweat Ceremony performed for me a few years ago, and that ceremony was a catalyst in a very large improvement of my life.

I was told years ago not to tell anyone about the crime perpetrated against me. The rapist threatened to come back and kill me. My mother was very adamant that I not tell a soul, especially my family, who were so sure I was a "slut" anyway! For many years, I was careful to whom I told this story. However, I have not been a sad person; nor have I been a tragic figure. So far, I've had a fun life, I have a good sense of humor, and I have chosen to walk a happy path. This is important to me that I have spread joy and the love of my dance to others. People are glad to know me, I think.

The other important thing I have accomplished is that I have told others; I have not kept this ordeal a secret entirely. Yet, physically, other ailments have built up around my lower abdominal area. I believe that the rape was my first major injury, and that site became a magnet for the other scarring and other, additional, ailments that plagued me over the years: a couple of my babies were born by C-sections, yet I was also able to give birth naturally to my second son, which meant a lot to me. Abdominal surgery became necessary. Many other illnesses and injuries ended up in surgery and pain for me.

A few years ago, when I returned to belly dance, I felt the desire to work through having been raped. I was very afraid, but I decided that this second time in returning dance, I would still wear a bedlah, and show my tummy, too! My plan would be to move, and perform, and let myself be vulnerable to audiences who would see that I am chubby, especially in the tummy area! I would write about being raped.  I devised my website to talk about this, and when I became a teacher, I would use my experience of this terrible crime against me as an avenue for me to help others.

My plan was that I would stress the bright side of this dance, and would not give in to desperation or sorrow because I have been much more than a mere survivor, I have been victorious in my life!

I would write and talk about it whenever the issues came up again because this never goes away. Sooner than I had imagined, yesterday, it came roaring back into my thoughts to make me take yet another look at feeling raw, vulnerable, and teary-eyed. 

 I went to see my first acupuncturist for an abdominal infection. He said that I have a lot of scarring, adhesions, and keloids under my skin, in the lower abdominal area. He said also that I retain a lot of blocked energy there. He had to put the acupuncture needles in quite deeply before I could feel them. I didn't tell him that I had been raped, and that over the years that physical trauma has accumulated more and more. I must admit that I felt better after the treatment; so this morning, I knew I had to tell him what I was withholding. I decided that he will aid me in the next step of my seemingly endless healing process. Hopefully, I can use my next efforts to shrink the scarring in my abdominal regions.

Therefore, when he called me this morning to see how I was, finally I told him what had happened. There was a big lump of sorrow in my throat as I spoke, and my acupuncturist cried on the other end of the phone. He thanked me for telling him. He said that, most likely, I will never just walk away from this, and that, probably it will be with me the rest of my life. I believe that he is right.

Today, I am both sad and glad. I have become a strong, unbreakable woman partially because of my ordeal. I appreciate little things in life; I have looked Death in the eyes. I like being alive, and having a family, and doing all the things I do.

Belly dancing has helped me immensely. I even learned to roll and flutter my tummy; I ended up practicing it while I was doing many other activities: driving, lying in bed, floating in the pool, and other times, just whenever I felt like it. The first few months, while I was learning, I fluttered my diaphragm, and suddenly an overwhelming grief rose up in me, and I burst into sobs. I knew exactly the reason for this, so I made it a point to be alone when I practiced abdominal rolls. I could flutter, roll, and cry to my heart's content. As the months have gone by, I finally have cried out most of my embedded grief, and can now control the abdominal rolls with rather great precision.

The only other drawback is that I am sick of people making comments about my tummy, even if they mean well. It isn't big from being fat. I am not Premenstrual.  However, I don't see any reason to divulge my most personal feelings at a moment's notice. I would like to have my tummy smaller, to look better in my costumes, and to feel more "normal". Maybe what I really want is to feel like I was never raped, and also that my mother never turned away from me in disgust when this crime was committed against me.

I would like to go back in time, and be the cute little girl I once was. However, none of that will happen. I have grown up to be a cute woman, a nice person, a darn good dancer, a creditable writer, and a loving friend, wife, and mother. I am a compassionate teacher to my students. There is almost nothing they could tell me that would turn me off to them, except committing a personal injury crime against another...

To me, Belly dancing is not about being cutesy and wearing bedlah.  It can be so much more! I honor and respect all dancers, but others like me, who use this dance as a panacea for something personal,  must also be given respect. We are seeing this dance help others to feel wonderful about them selves. We are using this dance to work some miracles.

Yes, it is a miracle to be able to wear a beautiful costume and perform onstage after having been raped as a little kid. It is a miracle to be able to move one's body in such a beautiful way that an audience can feel strong emotion. I don't even have to say a word to my students about healing. All I need to do is to teach them correct posture and breathing, and the rest just comes naturally. Those of us in "recovery" are not pathetic or gloomy when we dance, most of us are full of joy and laughter. We have our dance roots in a place that many people don't have to go, and we balance ourselves with those deep roots of recovery.

So today, I'm both sad and glad: I believe that I came to this dance to heal intuitively. Now, I have a chance to teach others to dance, and to perhaps heal too. I love performing, teaching, and writing. I love Belly dancing. It is at the core of my being, it also has me wrapped around it. Dance is a joyous and beautiful thing for me; it has actually outweighed that other, horrible event so long ago!

I hope that any readers who have been through the same thing will keep going in this dance, and keep the faith that also has helped them to live through their hard times. One can still be happy, and this dance can help former victims become truly beautiful again. We always were beautiful, and always will be.

Why have I shared my disturbing event so intimately now? I'm convinced about how many, many of us have risen above hideous things similar to victimization. I really want to reach out and help others. I am ready to take a big plunge outward, and let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. I still feel that I may be putting myself up to possible ridicule, scorn, and blame, (not to mention pity) by revealing my story.

I must tell my story.  I will do anything to help any human being heal from any similar events that have grievously harmed their lives. Let us dance together, and hold each others' hands while we begin this path.

I write, I dance, and I live well.

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for More?
more from Lucy-
Dog's Day Afternoon, my audition by Lucy Lipshitz
As for me, how could I lose? I BELONGED at that luncheon!
I Walk In Pain And Beauty by Lucy Lipschitz
I also walk with the Hope that other dancers will read this and know that they don't balance
on this double-edged sword alone.
Dancing to Live Drumming by Lucy Lipschitz
Most cultures believe that drumming is the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

9-30-03 Belly Dance in Reno … You Bet! By Janie
No hotels canceled our events after the September 11 tragedy or even considered it — in fact, I have found that they actively court our events.

9-29-03 Azad's Mother's Kitchen by Kayla Summers
I could see her mom doing the mental calculations of where to put everyone while she discussed with Azad the doubtful wisdom of this impromptu rendezvous.

9-26-03 Zaharr's Memoir, Parts 5 & 6," I Arrive at My Teacher’s", "Cost Plus and Woolworth’s"
And there she was this little girl transformed before me, gliding and twirling around the room with a big smile of encouragement on her face.

9-16-03 Delightful Dina in Dallas by Amaya
By far the most controversial costume was the last one. It was barely there.



 Gilded Serpent
 Cover page, Contents, Calendar Comics Bazaar About Us Letters to the Editor Ad Guidelines Submission Guidelines