Sexual Abuse is not only a physical force between a child and an adult, it also can incorporate verbal as well as an emotional form of abuse. It can be revealing a person’s genitalia or pressuring someone for sex. Pornography is also a form of sexual abuse. Outward signs of abuse is rarely able to be seen, there needs to be some investigation of how they behave on a general basis. Some symptoms are depression, eating disorders, Sleep Disorders, Sudden problems while in school, Withdrawing away from normal relationships such as friends or family, Anxiety, having a low self-esteem, start to run away from home, lack of hygiene or the opposite, an extreme amount of bathing.
According to psychologist Bob Murray Ph.D. and psychotherapist Alicia FortinBerry, MS, depression is simply a childhood trauma that is caused from the failure of early relationships. They state that the American Association of Pediatrics define it as being “a repeated pattern of damaging interactions between parent(s) or any other significant adult and a child that becomes typical of the relationship.” This includes more than just physical contact, it includes verbal abuse, mental abuse, and also emotional abuse. Trauma can stop the brains’ growth and development, that is how abnormalities show up on the scans, that are done when diagnosing them with depression. Basically trauma can damage the area of the brain, the amygdala, that tells the body to activate the fight or flight response. The body then is being told to be afraid and prepare all the time to be alert to a traumatic event. Depression can then be a result of not being able to live a complete life, for fear of being abused by a loved one, whether it be a boyfriend, parent, neighbor, or simply a friend. Symptoms of depression are not strictly being sad and crying all the time, it also incorporates those who “put a wall up” to avoid any pleasurable things or events, for fear of being hurt. There is also a possible chance if the memory is bad enough that anything can actually trigger a symptom at any time. If a child is brought up around an environment that is filled with yelling or beating then that child will think it is acceptable and the abuse will continue. They will lean more towards a mate with those characteristics and therefore the cycle continues and never ends.
There are actually seven steps to lead a depression free life, according to Dr. Murray and Alicia FortinBerry MS, as (1) to identify what is causing your depression and overcome whatever it is, (2) Reconnect with who you are and do something to make you happy, (3)Activate happy relationships with people you know will be there to lift you up not bring you down, (4) Do things that will raise your inner self-esteem, (5)Show people you are able to do things and show how competent you are, (6) Reach and use the power of things that do more than one thing, and finally(7) become religious. Whether or not you are a teenager suffering from depression or an adult, it is still necessary to make you a priority in every day life. Nobody can make you 100 percent happy if you can’t make yourself happy first.
Another symptom of sexual abuse can be an eating disorder, in that those who have been abused usually feel that they are ashamed or feel guilty. Mary Anne Cohen CSW, author of the article “Sexual Abuse and Eating Disorders”, reports an average of half of those who have an eating disorder have been proven to be abused sexually. It usually occurs to those who are abused, that if they overeat or undereat that nobody will want to be with them and therefore they can avoid another reoccurrence. If you know someone who has anorexia or bulimia, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are abused, however it can be a huge sign to tell if it has happened in their past. Sleeping Disorders are linked to have been abused because most of the time when you go to sleep, the memories come to the surface and the way to guard you from facing them is for you to wake up. Another point that can happen is when you try to “run away” from who you are and move either out of state, or at least somewhere you are not known. You can never run away from your past, no matter where you go, it will follow you.
A symptom that occurs while the person who was abused is in school is when the student begins to skip school or hang with the “wrong” crowd. If you are worried about your son and or daughter’s sudden change of personality, it can be a big sign that there are deeper issues at hand. Sexual abuse does not end for the person who is abused when the abuser stops these actions, it continues for the rest of their life, or until they learn to defeat it. Many disorders have interlocking symptoms that are shared among other diseases, it isn’t a diagnosis until you delve deep and really search for the actual reasons for the symptoms. Many that are abused attend visits to a mental professional of some sort, and many do not overcome the symptoms totally, however if you work with them it can be done. Life is confusing on a normal existence, if you throw in any form of abuse, it can make you feel as if you are spinning out of control. Don’t ever think you are not worth overcoming the symptoms from being abused, you owe it to yourself to lead a normal life, once and for all.
Bob Murray Ph.D. and Alicia FortinBerry MS