Making A Link Between Sexual Abuse And Mental Health Problems

Florida-sexual-abuse-lawyers2 A big obstacle to recovery is that often survivors of
sexual abuse do not know that the problems they have are related to
past experiences of sexual abuse. In fact, in my research 60% of the
participants did not link their mental health problems to their history
of sexual abuse. They were completely unaware of the significant impact
sexual abuse had in their emotional, physical, and mental life.

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Linking Sexual Abuse To Mental Health Problems

A big obstacle to recovery is that often survivors of sexual abuse do not know that the problems they have are related to past experiences of sexual abuse. In fact, in my research 60% of the participants did not link their mental health problems to their history of sexual abuse. They were completely unaware of the significant impact sexual abuse had in their emotional, physical, and mental life.

Instead they thought something is wrong with them and with their way of thinking.  They became angry and frustrated with themselves for being depressed without obvious reasons, having anxiety attacks that don’t make any sense, and for being ‘utterly defective’. What some professionals easily overlook is that the ‘average’ person does not link her/his emotional state today to experiences they had 30 years ago and which they might have partly forgotten.

When health professionals do not take a thorough personal history and ask if the person has experienced any forms of abuse, survivors will not know the right questions to ask that give them access to the help they need. More often than not they don’t really know what they might need. Their lack of understanding the origins of their problems was compounded when they approached public mental health services’ for help. Research has shown that public mental health services don’t always inquire about a person’s history of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or emotional abuse.

This invisibility of sexual abuse is a tragedy. Without understanding the link between sexual abuse and psychiatric disturbances, survivors end up blaming themselves for being weak, stupid, crazy, unlovable, defective, and many other negative characteristics. Often enough it leads to self-hate and self-harming behaviours that in turn re-enforce negative self perception. Survivors’ mental health spirals downwards and recovery is seriously hindered. They might spend years and years in mental health care without little or no improvement.

The invisibility of child sexual abuse in society and in mental health settings combined with survivors’ childhood conditioning of being silenced, their coping strategies of avoidance and dissociation, family’s and friends’ limits of knowing how to deal with survivors’ pain and disorganised life, and the inability to link the problems survivors have to their experiences of abuse prevent people not only from being effective in seeking professional help but also from themselves from future emotional, physical, or sexual harm.

Sexual abuse harms a person in many different ways. How deeply a person is affected by sexual abuse depends on a number of variants. In general we can say that the impacts of abuse depends on the age of the child, the relationship between child and perpetrator, the frequency, the duration, the severity, the presence of threats, and the availability of support and care.  Most survivors who seek help struggle with cognitive contamination, impaired social functioning, impaired memory processing, negative self-relations and identity, learned helplessness, physical health problems i.e. irritable bowl syndrome, sleep disturbances, disordered eating, mood disturbances, abuse of drugs and alcohol, to name just the most obvious.

Although the above mentioned symptoms are not always due to sexual abuse, it may be useful to ask yourself, whether any forms of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect have occurred. When you have been abused and you can make the link to your problems, you can start dealing with the abuse and begin your journey of recovery.

How To Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse?


This month's Sexual Abuse Recovery Blog Carnival has the theme of PARENTING! One of the pleasures of running the carnival is that I get to visit quite a lot of blogs and web pages that I would otherwise not come across. I suppose, every time I see a submission, I go and check the site out and … as you do … get a little bit into web surfing.

I found these statistics on the Australian Site Darkness To Light . This site gives lots of practical information about preventing children to be sexually abused. It worth checking out. So here the stats that hopefully convince people to become active on our children's behalf!!!!

  • 70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use. 
  • One study showed that among male survivors, 50% have suicidal thoughts and more than 20% attempt suicide. 
  • Young girls who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders as adolescents. 
  • More than 60% of teen first pregnancies are preceded by experiences of molestation, rape or attempted rape. The average age of the offenders is 27 years old. 
  • Approximately 40% of sex offenders report sexual abuse as children. 
  • Both males and females who have been sexually abused are more likely to engage in prostitution. Approximately 70% of sexual offenders of children have between 1 and 9 victims; 20-25% have 10 to 40 victims. 
  • Serial child molesters may have as many as 400 victims in their lifetimes.

You may think "It doesn't happen in my family" – well, the likelihood is that you know several other people who have been sexually abused. The bad news is that you can't tell if someone is an abuser. They don't come with a label on their forehead.

November 08 Edition: Parenting

Welcome to the November 30, 2008 edition of recovery from childhood sexual abuse. This edition is dedicated to issues of parenting. Some really interesting posts have been submitted – If you have any comments to the submitted contributions, please comment freely to what you read here.

How Often Does Child Sexual Abuse Get Reported posted at Judy Wright. Not nearly as often as it should. Most child abuse victims never report the crime or get help in coming to grips with this life-changing trauma. They move into adulthood with a broken heart and low self esteem. Much misbehavior and acting out can be traced to an incident which occurred which left the child feeling confused, betrayed and angry.

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Confronting the Abuser: Learned Helplessness

N2413865024_6209 I just saw the last comment by ….. to the first post of confronting the abuser. You wonder why you weren't able to stop the other kids to hurt you because you were the same age. Let me explain the concept of learned helplessness. Its a hideous dynamic that leads to a sense of helplessness and giving up.

It has all to do with knowing that you have control over the outcome. They've done heaps of research with humans and animals whereby the research subject has been given electro shocks independently from what they did, whether they completed a task successfully or not. The subjects learned that whatever they did or didn't do, nothing would prevent them from being hurt. They had no way of controlling whatever happened to them. As a result they gave up, became passive, and did not make any attempt to protect themselves. They have learned no matter what they did, they wouldn't be able to affect the outcome.

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Coping in Times of Stress

The recovery from sexual abuse is not always a straight forward journey. There are times when survivors will cope easily with the HERE AND NOW. At other times the THERE AND THEN intrudes and compromises their daily functioning. Times like Christmas, Easter, Hollidays, Thanksgiving, weddings, and baptisms, to name a few, are events that can be highly triggering for survivors.

It can make a huge difference for a person's coping capabilities to have a plan ready for these difficult times. Once the stress level rises and people start getting distressed, thinking rationally is not always possible. Click the following link Download Depression Action Plan for ideas how to construct such a plan for yourself.

Self-Care: Baking A Gingerbread House!

As the days go by, CGingerhouse smallhristmas is coming closer and closer. I would like to share with you what we do in Germany around this time of the year: We bake Christmas Cookies and Gingerbread Houses. It's a really relaxing activity, and when you have children, you will create unforgetable memories for them.

 It's easy, so give it a go and enjoy: It's never too late to have a happy childhood 🙂

Go here for the Download Gingerbread recipe.

Avoidance or Self-Care?

Pampering-spa-facial Have you ever thought about when you are avoiding and when you do 'self-care'?. It's a fine line, isn't it? A whole industry is concerned with distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills. The most commonly known are the Linehan DBT skills. They teach you to use such as

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It’s This Time of The Year Again …

PhotobucketHi Everyone! It’s this time of the year again … you hear Christmas songs everywhere – (I spent all morning baking gingerbread houses) – people here DownUnder get their swimsuits out while those Northerners huddle around fireplaces wrapped up in warm socks and pullovers.

I fiure, this is just the right time to play a little bit ‘dress-up’ with my blogs. Check out the Multiple Voices Blog with the snow-man theme, and my Gudrun Frerichs Blog being covered in Christmas Green and Red.

I have two BIG announcements to make for the time leading up to Christmas.

  1. You have a few more days to sign up for the FREE TeleSeminar “How to Accelerate Your Recovery from Sexual Abuse”. It takes place on the 22nd of November 2 pm (New Zealand Time) (that is 21st of November 6 PM US pacific time). Make sure you don’t miss out and sign up here.
  2. Also, make a note to come back to my blogs for the CHRISTMAS TREASURE HUNT. It starts on the 24thTeddy present of November and involves finding 24 gift parcels (like the one on the right!) hidden in the blog posts of all my three blogs, whereby each parcel comes with a hint where to find the next one and with a letter. All letters combined give the ‘solution’.

The First 50 people that send in the right solution will get a prize.
Prizes are: 1 – 3 = four 30 minute one-on-one consultations with Gudrun
                           value $300 each
                 4-20 = 12 week TeleSeminar: Recovery from Sexual Abuse
                           value $98 each
                21-50= E-book “The Secret of Successful Relationships” – over 70 pages of state                                    of the art relationship and communication skills – value $29 each

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