once is too many

The statistics of the trauma of sexual abuse and violence against children and women are astounding by any measure.

  • One in six women (roughly 17% of the female population) has experienced rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives.
  • Women who have experienced sexual or physical abuse as a child are up to four times more likely to experience depression as an adult.
  • It is reported that 50% of women who seek mental health care have experienced sexual or physical abuse or both.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, and anxiety are the most common forms of mental health disorders experienced by sexual and physical abuse victims.
  • Abuse survivors often experience feelings of shame, isolation, shock, confusion, and guilt.

it’s not what’s wrong with you, but what happened to you

what are you feeling?

Survivors of sexual or physical abuse carry their experiences with them for their entire lives. The mental health challenges that stem from abuse can be managed with treatment, so it is essential to understand what you may be feeling.

  • Depression: Loss of control of autonomy can lead to feelings of hopelessness, despair, and loss of self-worth.
  • Anxiety: Living in fear of another attack, being alone or alone with the abuser are common anxiety triggers. Racing or recurring thoughts of the abuse can lead to panic attacks. Difficulty focusing, irritability, fatigue, and unexplained pains can also be symptoms of anxiety.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Experiencing intense memories of the abuse, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts, are typical symptoms of PTSD. Avoiding reminders of the abuse, startling easily, and having negative thoughts are also common.
  • Substance Abuse: The excessive use of drugs or alcohol is common among childhood abuse survivors. Drugs and alcohol help numb the pain and are repeatedly used as a coping mechanism to mask the emotional pain.
  • Physical Symptoms: High blood pressure, body aches. fatigue, headaches, and difficulty sleeping can often be signs of your body’s reaction to abuse.

A traumatic event that may have lasted just a few seconds can have an impact that can last a lifetime. Not only did something happen to you, something was taken from you, and the effects of that should never be minimized or taken likely.

You deserve to lead your own life on your terms, and the first step is often admitting to yourself you need help and then being honest with your healthcare provider about the abuse. Trauma-informed healthcare providers can help you find the beginning, so you can start to heal.

Visit the Mental Health Definitions page to learn more about different mental health conditions and their symptoms.

“Overcoming abuse doesn’t just happen. It takes positive steps every day. Let today be the day your start to move forward.”

– Assunta Harris

emotional abuse

when the scars aren’t visible

Emotional abuse involves attempts to frighten, control, or isolate. It happens to women and girls of all ages, and typically includes words and non-violent actions. It can start gradually and may last for a short time or years.

Abusers can be a parent, intimate partner, co-worker, or even your children, and the abuse can continue regardless of your requests to stop.

emotional abuse may include:

  • Humiliation or belittling while alone or in the presence of others
  • Yelling, swearing, or verbal threats or insults
  • Use of dismissive words or actions
  • Controlling of actions and/or decisions
  • Instilling shame
  • Constant mistrust, spying, or monitoring of actions or whereabouts
  • “Gaslighting,” or denying that specific events, arguments, or agreements ever happened
  • Restricting access to finances, or friends and family (isolation)
  • Emotional manipulation that may “turn the tables” and make the abuser appear the victim
  • Explosive, unpredictable behavior
  • Repeated false accusations or blaming
  • Trivializing emotions and/or emotional neglect

If you believe you’re experiencing emotional abuse, trust your instincts. It’s not your fault, and you what you are experiencing is not okay…at any level!

While you may not be physically attacked, the effects of emotional abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, chronic stress, and even suicidal thoughts.

To learn more about different mental health conditions and their symptoms, visit the Mental Health Definitions page.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)

Click here to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7/365

If you or a love is in crisis, click here to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7/365. Tap to dial 800-779-SAFE (7233) or Visit thehotline.org, where you can chat online with trained staff. If you are concerned about your web history being monitored, call the hotline, or delete your search history after visiting the site. For local domestic violence resources, click here.

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