This week we are headed to the Intuit Wellness Fair. That leads me to address what sexual assault has to do with wellness.
I will start with the obvious, what it has to do with unwellness.
Guilt/Shame/Blame: Sexual assault can lead to these feelings, especially if there is secrecy around it or if the body felt pleasure. There may have been manipulation or coercion involved to force the act which may be very confusing and further these feelings.
Anger: Not only may the victim be very angry at the assault or perpetrator themselves, they may also have felt like their anger had little effect and may feel that their anger was not useful or unhelpful ,hindering ability to constructively express it in the future
Trust: Learning to trust again can be a long and difficult process
Grieving/ Mourning: The loss of trust, innocence, and ability to function normally in relationships.
Low Self Esteem: May be a result of the messages sent by the abuser, or because of the negative feelings about the assault that are internalized
Setting Limits/Boundaries: When personal boundaries are invaded and given no value, it becomes hard to put importance on them
Defensive: Many defense mechanisms may be in place that may lead to anxiety, fear, aggressiveness, helplessness, suspicion, or isolation.
Borderline Personality Disorder: People with this disorder are 4 times more likely to have been child sexual abuse victims, in particular victims of abuse by their fathers, than women diagnosed with other psychiatric disorders.
Eating Disorders: 2 out of 3 sufferers of anorexia or bulimia are identified victims of child sexual abuse
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Substance Abuse: 70% of Female and 12% of male substance abusers in treatment reported sexual abuse
Suicide: Rape victims were 13 times more likely than non crime victims to have made a suicide attempt
Abdominal Pain and Gastrointestinal Disorders: women who were abused in childhood, 46% reported abdominal pain, 36% had diarrhea, and 39% had constipation in the past 6 months
Pelvic Pain and Gynecologic Disorders:Sexual abuse has also been consistently related to greater reporting of pelvic pain, painful intercourse (dyspareunia), painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea), vaginal infection, and other gynecologic disorders
Headache: S.A. victims are twice as likely to report debilitating frequent headaches
Physical Symptoms Associated with Anxiety, Panic, or PTSD: such as shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, numbness, and weakness or faintness
Pregnancy: Not just as a result of the assault itself, victims are more likely to have teen pregnancies, more likely to have multiple sexual partners, and more likely to have unprotected sex
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Now on to the Wellness, RCASA offers many services to help heal these lasting effects of sexual assault. We have Counseling, including art and play therapies, Groups, Studio Time, Hotline, Hospital Accompaniment, Case management and Legal Accompaniment.
To begin the healing process please call us and do an intake so we can help you through the process of healing.
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- Molnar BE, Buka SL, Kessler RC. Child sexual abuse and subsequent psychopathology: results from the National Comorbidity Survey. Am J Public Health 2001;91:753–60.[Abstract]
- Herman, Judith, Christopher Perry, and Bessel Van der Kolk. Childhood Trauma in Borderline Personality Disorder. 146(4) American Journal of Psychiatry (1989).
- Drossman, D.A., et al. Sexual and Physical Abuse and Gastrointestinal Illness: Review and Recommendations. 123(10) Annals of Internal Medicine (Nov. 15, 1995): 782-794.
- Silverman, Jay G. et al. Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality. 286 (5) Journal of the American Medical Association (2001): 572.
- Substance Abuse and the American Woman. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University (June 1996).
- Kilpatrick D.G., C.N. Edmunds, and A. Seymour. 1992. Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. Arlington, VA: National Victim Center.