Tag Archives: effects of childhood sexual abuse

Minimizing or Protecting?

I, like a lot of other people in the world, have felt sorrow at the recent passing of Michael Jackson.  His music and dancing was a positive thing that I remember from my youth, and God knows, there are not many of them.  I’ve read reams of words and watched tons of videos.  One line out of all those read words struck me to the core, and to recall it gives me mental shivers.

I can’t remember where I read this, and this is not an exact quote.  But the gist of it was this…

“In remembering Michael Jackson, we must understand that sometimes…a child’s soul…too ill used…never finds it’s way back home”.

And in combination with that, I was spelling checking another entry, and typed the word molestation into the search bar, and subsequently went to visit the wikipedia entry about it.  Granted, wiki’s aren’t absolute, and are prone to error due to the open nature of it.  However, some of the stuff was just like…mind reeling…is the only term that I can quickly think of.

Some examples…

Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest and can result in more serious and long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.

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Child sexual abuse can result in both short-term and long-term harm, including psychopathology in later life.[9][22] Psychological, emotional, physical, and social effects include depression,[5][23][24]post-traumatic stress disorder,[6][25] anxiety,[7] eating disorders, poor self-esteem, dissociative and anxiety disorders; general psychological distress and disorders such as somatization, neurosis, chronic pain,[24] sexualized behavior,[26] school/learning problems; and behavior problems including substance abuse,[27][28] destructive behavior, criminality in adulthood and suicide.[11][29][30][31][32][33]

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Long term negative effects on development leading to re-victimization in adulthood are also associated with child sexual abuse.[8][27] Studies have established a causal relationship between childhood sexual abuse and certain specific areas of adult psychopathology, including suicidality, antisocial behavior, PTSD, anxiety and alcoholism

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Sexually abused children suffer from more psychological symptoms than children who have not been abused; studies have found symptoms in 51% to 79% of sexually abused children.[31][39][40][41][42][43] The level of harm may also be affected by various factors such as penetration, duration and frequency of abuse, and use of force.[9][22][44][45] The social stigma of child sexual abuse may compound the psychological harm to children,[46][47] and adverse outcomes are less likely for abused children who have supportive family environments.[48][49] The risk of harm is greater if the abuser is a relative, if the abuse involves intercourse or attempted intercourse, or if threats or force are used.

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This one made me especially chuckle…

Child abuse, including sexual abuse, especially chronic abuse starting at early ages, has been found to be related to the development of high levels of dissociative symptoms, which includes amnesia for abuse memories.[52] The level of dissociation has been found to be related to reported overwhelming sexual and physical abuse.[53] When severe sexual abuse (penetration, several perpetrators, lasting more than one year) had occurred, dissociative symptoms were even more prominent.[53]

Child sexual abuse independently predicts the number of symptoms for PTSD a person displays, after controlling for possible confounding variables, according to Widom (1999), who wrote “sexual abuse, perhaps more than other forms of childhood trauma, leads to dissociative problems … these PTSD findings represent only part of the picture of the long-term psychiatric sequelae associated with early childhood victimization … antisocial personality disorder, alcohol abuse, and other forms of psychopathology.”[6] Children may develop symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder resulting from child sexual abuse, even without actual or threatened injury or violence.[54]

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Because child sexual abuse often occurs alongside other possibly confounding variables, such as poor family environment and physical abuse,[55] some scholars argue it is important to control for those variables in studies which measure the effects of sexual abuse.[22][35][56][57] In a 1998 review of related literature, Martin and Fleming, state “The hypothesis advanced in this paper is that, in most cases, the fundamental damage inflicted by child sexual abuse is due to the child’s developing capacities for trust, intimacy, agency and sexuality, and that many of the mental health problems of adult life associated with histories of child sexual abuse are second-order effects.”[58] Other studies have found an independent association of child sexual abuse with adverse psychological outcomes.[7][22][59]

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Research has shown that traumatic stress, including stress caused by sexual abuse, causes notable changes in brain functioning and development.[72][73] Various studies have suggested that severe child sexual abuse may have a deleterious effect on brain development. Ito et al. (1998) found “reversed hemispheric asymmetry and greater left hemisphere coherence in abused subjects;”[74] Teicher et al. (1993) found that an increased likelihood of “ictal temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms” in abused subjects;[75] Anderson et al. (2002) recorded abnormal transverse relaxation time in the cerebellar vermis of adults sexually abused in childhood;[76] Teicher et al. (1993) found that child sexual abuse was associated with a reduced corpus callosum area; various studies have found an association of reduced volume of the left hippocampus with child sexual abuse;[77] and Ito et al. (1993) found increased electrophysiological abnormalities in sexually abused children.[78]

Some studies indicate that sexual or physical abuse in children can lead to the overexcitation of an undeveloped limbic system.[77] Teicher et al. (1993)[75] used the “Limbic System Checklist-33” to measure ictal temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms in 253 adults. Reports of child sexual abuse were associated with a 49% increase to LSCL-33 scores, 11% higher than the associated increase of self-reported physical abuse. Reports of both physical and sexual abuse were associated with a 113% increase. Male and female victims were similarly affected.[75][79]

Navalta et al. (2006) found that the self-reported math Scholastic Aptitude Test scores of their sample of women with a history of repeated child sexual abuse were significantly lower than the self-reported math SAT scores of their non-abused sample. Because the abused subjects verbal SAT scores were high, they hypothesized that the low math SAT scores could “stem from a defect in hemispheric integration.” They also found a strong association between short term memory impairments for all categories tested (verbal, visual, and global) and the duration of the abuse.[80]

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Children who received supportive responses following disclosure had less traumatic symptoms and were abused for a shorter period of time than children who did not receive support.[92][93] In general, studies have found that children need support and stress-reducing resources after disclosure of sexual abuse.[94][95] Negative social reactions to disclosure have actually been found to be harmful to the survivor’s well being.[96] One study reported that children who received a bad reaction from the first person they told, especially if the person was a close family member, had worse scores as adults on general trauma symptoms, post traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and dissociation.[97] Another study found that in most cases when children did disclose abuse, the person they talked to did not respond effectively, blamed or rejected the child, and took little or no action to stop the abuse.[95]

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Have you read all that?

Good.

Now read it again.

When I read it, I instantly get an attitude of ‘why the fuck even bother’.  Why go to the time and the expense and the sheer pain-in-the-assness of it all, if stuff like this is true:

Research has shown that traumatic stress, including stress caused by sexual abuse, causes notable changes in brain functioning and development.”

I have read this in other places besides wikipedia, so it’s not like I doubt the validity of it.  And if we accept that such is true, then WHY THE FUCK BOTHER WITH TRYING TO GET FREE OF ANY OF THIS?

It’s not like going thousands of dollars in debt and spending countless hours struggling with it would make any difference.  We can’t un-do changes to brain development.

So, while I think that, without a doubt, I do minimize it, and say ‘other people had it worse’ as part of my dissociation, I also think it is because to think otherwise is just too fucking dauting.

In other words, if I think it was as bad as it was, that means that I have to acknowledge all those nasty after-effects.

And if I have to acknowledge them as true, then the task at hand is simply too not doable, the up-hill-battle just too steep to climb.

What would be the point in fighting demons that you KNOW full well going in are going to win?

So when I say ‘other people had it worse’…

am I miminizing, or am I protecting the part of me who wants to triump?

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