PTSD and Sexual Violence

The most common cause of PTSD in women is sexual trauma. A person’s vulnerability to develop PSTD is linked to that individual’s history of victimization. Reports estimate that 15%-38% of women experience childhood sexual abuse, 13% to 20% experience adult rape and at least 20% experience battering.[3] Sexual and physical abuse in women, either when they were children or as adults, can result in post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD and other psychological and psychiatric disturbances. A growing number of studies indicate that such abuse may produce a wide variety of somatic symptoms and disturbances in physical health including cancer.

1 in 5 Women in U.S. say they have been sexually assaulted according the Center for Diseases Control (CDC). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), an exhaustive report on rape and intimate partner violence, affirming what many organizations and advocates have long suspected, that sexual violence against women remains endemic in the United States and is more common than previously thought.

There is a link between a history of sexual and physical
abuse in women and functional disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and chronic pelvic pain.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim. C-PTSD is distinct from, but similar to, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

C-PTSD was first described in 1992 by Judith Herman in her book Trauma & Recovery. Forms of trauma associated with C-PTSD include sexual abuse (especially child sexual abuse), physical abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence or torture — all repeated traumas in which there is an actual or perceived inability for the victim to escape.

Sex lies at the very root of our existence and when that root
is rotten the rest of our vehicle of consciousness is prone to
a multitude of disease states and psycho-spiritual distortions.

PTSD fails to account for a wide cluster of symptoms that are observed in cases of prolonged abuse, particularly that which was perpetrated by caregivers during several childhood and adolescent developmental stages. These symptoms include psychological fragmentation, the loss of a sense of safety, trust, and self-worth, as well as the tendency to be revictimized, and, most importantly, the loss of a coherent sense of self. It is this loss of a coherent sense of self, and the ensuing symptom profile, that most pointedly differentiates C-PTSD from PTSD.

Intense traumatic events, such as maternal separation,
occurring early in the life of an infant may weaken its
immune system, making it more susceptible to viral
infections later in life that could trigger multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Jane Welsh

Texas A&M University

In almost all cases of serious illness, a core issue is hiding or there is an unresolved conflict that’s been repeating over and over in a person’s life and the source of that is often sexual in nature. Core issues, or what might be seen as unrecognized truths that are waiting to be discovered, maintain patterns of energy that hold pain and dysfunction in place.

Experiences of childhood trauma caused by abuse or neglect can lead to a variety of overwhelming emotions, such as anger, sadness, guilt, and shame. In order to avoid such feelings, children can take refuge in dissociation, denial, amnesia, or emotional numbing (Everett & Gallop, 2001). These coping mechanisms can become over-generalized with time and without protective factors (i.e., positive events or characteristics) to intervene, these negative outcomes may continue throughout life. Adult survivors of childhood trauma may also find it difficult to control emotions and or actions. For adults with a history of childhood trauma, recollections of past trauma can almost be as strongly felt as if it was happening again, which may lead to unexpected reactions, such as lashing out in anger or bursting into uncontrolled weeping in response to what most people would view as relatively minor events (Everett & Gallop, 2001).