The effects of sexual abuse

Being in intensive therapy where I finally have opened my mouth about the abuse after a year of faffing about my daily life means that I have started yet again taking stock of how the abuse that happened to me has affected me.

When I had my first flashback six years ago I remember feeling like whoa it all makes sense now; all the negative thoughts and behavior and being depressed and angry and bitter suddenly could be traced back to my childhood and the sexual abuse.

I bought a book called Courage to Heal which for a long time was like a bible for me; it details effects of abuse and how to heal, and through the book, survivors’ voices are heard, which is comforting. The women who wrote it are not health professionals but writers, yet they manage to soothe and comfort the reader with their compassion.

I went through the effects of abuse part and underlined everything that I felt I was like, and even today those pages are blue with ink. I have felt I could identify with everything!

Then I forgot about it. I became busy with my relationship, with a new job, with my life in London…Being a survivor hasn’t been a priority in a looooong time. Yet now after I broke up with my boyfriend, am mourning the end of my therapy already, and I’m hopeless and fearful about the present and the future, all these things are flaring up again.

I actually for the first time Googled the effects of  childhood sexual abuse, and I found that in one study they found that

“The long-term effects of the abuse “were absolutely profound” (study conducted by USC).

A child psychologist involved in the study noted that:

“It’s just not mental health issues. Some of these women are suffering from a lot of problems today like sleep issues, poor health utilization, and have a lot of risky behaviors. It’s very disturbing.”

The American Psychological Association notes that:

“Adults who were sexually abused as children commonly experience depression. Additionally, high levels of anxiety in these adults can result in self-destructive behaviors, such as alcoholism or drug abuse, anxiety attacks, situation-specific anxiety disorders, and insomnia. Many victims also encounter problems in their adult relationships and in their adult sexual functioning.”

I couldn’t really find a list of mental health problems associated with abuse, but there was a list I found helpful and it’s made me once again understand that a lot of my “problems” are coping behaviors carried over, plus reaction to the horrendous abuse, so…it is understandable. Too bad I live in a world of non-abused people to whom my behavior seems weird, irrational, pathological, and wrong.

In my life I experience, or have experienced: headaches, migraines, back pain, chronic fatigue, suicidal thoughts, depression, personality disorder, anorexia, bulimia, obesity, food addiction, self mutilation, been accident prone, done drugs and alcohol, I have a fear of abandonment and a fear of being taken advantage of, panic attacks, insomnia, bruxism, heart murmurs, palpitations, anxiety, irrational fears, nightmares, flashbacks, memory loss, splitting, feeling helpless, feeling isolated, feeling like no one understands or cares, self blame, anger, bitterness, sexual dysfunction, sexual obsessions and addiction, unable to determine sexuality, compulsions, poor self image, poor self understanding, feeling like I am inherently a bad person, addiction to conflict and drama, being needy, being clingy, being fiercely independent, poor interpersonal boundaries……..

Is this because I am a sensitive person? Or is this because I grew up in a violent home? Or because we weren’t rich? Or because I was bullied? Or because my mom is emotionally distant and was depressed? Or was it because I was sexually abused by my father?

Who knows?!

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