Get me out of here
A Non-Profit Organization for Child Abuse Survivors Learning to Thrive

After Effects of Abuse

Why It’s Imperative to Seek Help After Emotional Abuse

Author: Trisha Miller

Even long after emotional or physical abuse has ended, the effects will remain. A single bout of abuse can change a person’s mental state forever. However, redetermining the course of your life, who you are as a person, and how to maintain healthy relationships is a gift that every person deserves to receive. Still, the most “emotionally strong” individual cannot always see the ways that abuse can and will affect their life. We are not our abuse and we do not have to live as such.

Subtle Signs of Abuse

Emotional or physical abuse can affect children in a myriad of ways. Something subdued like reclusiveness or unwillingness to participate in social activities can become present. On the other hand, it very well may manifest itself is a much louder way, such as severe mood swings, anxiety, depression, anger etc.

All of these signs can grow into much larger mental health problems down the line. As an example, a child may grow into a teen who hurts themselves in order to try to work through their pain. Another common example is experimentation with drugs in order to numb the pain they may feel each day.

Unfortunately, we are not all equipped with the mental tools we need at birth. There is not a switch that can be turned on to make things right and good. No amount of love and caring or drugs and pain can heal these types of wounds. We must mentally condition ourselves regularly to properly process abuse. The brain is a muscle and it must be worked out in order to make connections we may not have seen previously.

Unburdening Yourself

Someone who suffered from an abusive relationship often feels that they have a weight on their shoulders or a dark past following them everywhere they go. Keeping something like that inside is never a choice that leads to happiness and fulfillment. Of course, no one should be forced to tell their story before they are ready, but constantly pushing down the symptoms of abuse is just not a way to live.

Those who seek professional help often feel a release of responsibility from their abuse. They are no longer attached to an event that does not define their character or the course of their life. Someone who has been defined by their abuse their entire life now has the delightful opportunity to decide what kind of person they would like to be and pursue that to their full capability.

Sadly, those who feel that they do not need help may not be able to experience life to its fullest extent. Those who truly live a happy and fulfilled life are able to make sound decisions for themselves and their loved ones. They maintain long, happy, and balanced relationships. They are able to proactively handle stress, anxiety, and sadness. And they are endowed with confidence and self-worth. If you feel that as a direct result of your abuse you are not able to achieve these things, then you can benefit from professional help.

If you or someone you know was a victim of abuse, it is never too late to seek professional help. Having the satisfaction of knowing your life is entirely your own and that you are not controlled by your abuse, is beautifully priceless. Although it may be difficult, showing someone the way towards mental health by asking them to get help is a step in the right direction. Show someone you care by surrounding them with love and support. This is the best possible way to ensure their safety and happiness.

 

 

Talking Therapy and Abuse Survivors: Does it Help or Hinder the Healing Process?

Author: Juliusz Wodzianski (LLB PGDip MSC MBACP)

Self-Care, Self-Esteem and Other Key Issues for Abuse Survivors

One of the things that doctors and others involved with well-being tell us is that we need to take care of ourselves. We should eat nutritious food, be well hydrated, take exercise, be mindful, take time to relax and have nurturing relationships.

All of that is good advice, but are we all able to do those things? What is the effect of stress and depression on our ability to take care of ourselves, what is the effect of having low self-esteem?

Self-Esteem

One of the things that I have noticed in my therapeutic work with abuse survivors is that clients often have low self-esteem. This low self-esteem can often manifest in different ways:

  • They can feel guilt, and may often ‘hate’ themselves.
  • They typically do not have much self-confidence and do not feel that they can move from the abusive situation that they may find themselves in
  • They do not believe that others will value them. Indeed, children do not have any choice in being able to escape abuse where perpetrated by their carers unless this is noticed by others.

Forms of Abuse

‘Being a victim’, is understandable having regard to the patterns established in early life, where silence and acceptance is often the only coping mechanism. Being abused whether physically, sexually, emotionally or mentally leads to psychological scars which can take time to heal. An abusive relationship in later life may appear to be the only relationship that an abuse survivor may feel that he or she deserves.

The Healing Process

The positive message though is that the scars can heal, and abuse survivors can overcome the historical issues which continue to play out in their lives. The process of healing can take some time as building a relationship involving trust with a therapist is a delicate act for an abuse survivor. This requires a skilled and empathic counsellor or psychotherapist that can work with whatever an abuse survivor may bring into the therapy room. The transformation for abuse survivors who engage in counselling and psychotherapy can be remarkable. However, this is a process that cannot be rushed as the work can only proceed at the pace that is right for the client. Opening too much trauma before the client has the ability to cope with it might be counter-productive.

Approaches to Talking Therapy

There are many approaches to talking therapy based on different theoretical frameworks. The one thing that is common across the board is that they are all based on the element of dialogue, primarily moving from the client. One comment that is made by a number of commentators, and where there is some level of agreement, is that it is the relationship between the therapist and the client that heals. Different therapeutic models may have a different understanding as to how their methods bring about healing, but it is perhaps not necessary to understand exactly how the process brings about healing as long as it does.

Psychoanalysis

People often think of counselling and psychotherapy as a system by which a client lies on a couch with the therapist silently sitting behind him or her or to the side whilst the client talks about their dreams. Whilst that is one approach, it is not the only one. This type of work is the process of psychoanalytic analysis where a client may well see the therapist two or three times a week for many years.

Psychological Therapies Including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

At the other end of the scale, patients referred to a counsellor by their GPs are more likely to be seen within an Improved Access to Psychological Therapies set up, where the number of sessions will be limited to a number, quite typically six, spaced at weekly intervals. Cognitive behavioural therapy is popular within the NHS framework, possibly because its practitioners have carried out the most research.

Other approaches

There is also person centred counselling (where the sessions are effectively led by the client), psychodynamic counselling (where behaviour is looked at from the perspective of the type of relationship that the client had with their parents or guardians and significant other persons when very young), transpersonal counselling (the unexplained or soul dimension being key), existential therapy (considering the meaning of life and our place in it) and so on. To confuse matters even more there are also therapies that involve some level of body work such as emotional freedom technique (where acupressure points are tapped) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (replicating rapid eye movement in sleep where memories are stored in the correct area of the brain) which has been shown to be effective in a number of clients presenting with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Integrative approach

My own training has been on an integrative basis incorporating a number of different theoretical perspectives and which therefore gives me a greater number of tools with which I can work with. My only concern, and which should be at the core of all therapeutic work, is how can I help this client before me right now.

Does Talking Therapy Always Help?

I personally have not known counselling and psychotherapy to be unhelpful to any client that I have worked with. As with all things however, it is very important to work within the framework of what the client is ready to explore. Rushing in and opening up traumatic episodes at a very early stage may not be the best way to engage in the counselling process.

One of the key areas of distinction between counselling and psychotherapy is that the former is often seen as short term work (for example, six sessions) whereas psychotherapy is often considered to be longer term work. It is sometimes considered that counselling is very helpful at dealing with immediate issues, whereas psychotherapy enables the client and the counsellor to engage at greater depth and encourage understanding of why the client responds to certain things in the way that he or she does.

My own view is that the client is in charge of him or herself, and is the best person to judge what they may need. The counsellor and psychotherapist is, in some ways, a facilitator along a journey.

Talk therapy can be immensely helpful to abuse survivors. The key to successful therapy stems from the relationship between the client and the therapist, and it is therefore of tremendous importance that the client finds a therapist that he or she can trust. It is also very important to check that the therapist is professionally trained and a member of a recognised professional body, and has experience of having worked with abuse survivors. In the UK, the two largest professional bodies are the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, both of which maintain a register of current members. The most comprehensive directory for therapists in the UK is the Counselling Directory (which only lists professionally qualified therapists).

Author Bio

Juliusz Wodzianski LLB PGDip MSc MBACP is a practising counsellor and psychotherapist based in Finchley and Uxbridge, London. Juliusz can be contact via the links below:

Web: www.talktherapylondon.com

Email: juliusz@talktherapylondon.com

Tel: 07973 269356

The views expressed in this article are those of Juliusz Wodzianski alone.

How Childhood Trauma Can Create Lifelong Adult Addicts

Author: Trey Dyer

The link between child abuse and future adult drug abuse is strong. More than 66 percent of those in treatment for substance use disorders report abuse during their childhood — including physical, mental and sexual abuse or neglect — according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. A study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect found childhood abuse rates as high as 84 percent among those in treatment for substance abuse.

United States child protection services receive approximately 3 million reports involving 5.5 million children each year. Of those 3 million cases, nearly 30 percent involve child abuse. In those cases:

  • 65 percent were survivors of neglect
  • 18 percent were survivors of physical abuse
  • 10 percent were survivors of sexual abuse
  • 7 percent were survivors of psychological abuse

These types of abuse can lead to lasting trauma. About two-thirds of child abuse cases go unreported.

Survivors of child abuse often develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the trauma they faced as children. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. Those who develop the disorder may experience fear, stress or anxiety about their safety as a result of the trauma even when there is no threat to them. About 5 percent of adolescents develop PTSD; however, more than 21 percent of foster care alumni develop PTSD.

Researchers at Hofstra University compared three groups of foster care children and found that approximately 60 percent of those who were sexually abused were diagnosed with PTSD, and 42 percent of those who were physically abused developed the disorder.

PTSD is also inextricably linked to substance abuse. Those who suffer from PTSD may turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication to cope with the emotions brought on by the disorder.

Surveys by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Chestnut Health Systems found that more than 70 percent of adolescents receiving treatment for substance abuse reported a history of trauma exposure. Multiple studies, including one from Harvard Medical School, found that up to 59 percent of adolescents with PTSD develop a substance use disorder during their lifetime.

Women are particularly at risk of developing co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorders. In a study involving nearly 200 adolescents with substance use disorders, 45.3 percent of female adolescents developed PTSD during their lifetime, compared to 24.3 percent of male adolescents.

Multiple studies show that 25 to 76 percent of teens with substance use disorders started using drugs or alcohol following trauma exposure and 14 to 59 percent started using at the onset of PTSD.

Support for survivors of child abuse is pivotal to preventing them from developing substance use disorders and PTSD. These individuals face trauma and often have no guardian or trusted adult for support, making the emotional damage even more devastating.

If your child survived a traumatic experience and is showing signs such as anger, sleep problems or a change in school performance, you may need to get help from a mental health professional who treats children with PTSD.

About the Author: Trey Dyer is a writer for DrugRehab.com and advocate for people with substance use disorders. Trey is passionate about helping people with mental health and substance use disorders reach the treatment they need to get healthy. When Trey is not writing, he can be found fly fishing, traveling and smoking BBQ.

 Sources:

Calrk, D., Lesnick, L. & Hegedus, A. (1997, December). Traumas and other adverse life events in adolescents with alcohol abuse and dependence. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9401336

Cohen, F. & Densen-Gerber, J. (1982). A study of the relationship between child abuse and drug addiction in 178 patients: preliminary results. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6892324

Dubner, A. & Motta, R. (1999, June). Sexually and physically abused foster care children and posttraumatic stress disorder. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10369057

Deykin, E. & Buka, S. (1997, June). Prevalence and risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder among chemically dependent adolescents. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9167501

Funk,R. et al. (2003, February). Maltreatment issues by level of adolescent substance abuse treatment: the extent of the problem at intake relationship to early outcomes. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12568503

Giaconia, R. et al. (2000, April). Comorbidity of substance use and post-traumatic stress disorders in a community sample of adolescents. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10826037

Hieger, J. (2012, December). INFORMATION PACKET:  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Children in Foster Care. Retrieved from http://www.nrcpfc.org/is/downloads/info_packets/ptsdandchildren_in_fc.pdf

Perkonigg, A. et al. (2000, January). Traumatic events and post-traumatic stress disorder in the community: prevalence, risk factors and comorbidity. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10674950

Swan, N. (1998, July). Exploring the Role of Child Abuse in Later Drug Abuse. Retrieved from http://archives.drugabuse.gov/NIDA_Notes/NNVol13N2/exploring.html

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (2008, June). Making the Connection: Trauma and Substance Abuse. Retrieved from http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/SAToolkit_1.pdf

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2015, August 13). PTSD in Children and Teens. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/family/ptsd-children-adolescents.asp

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2015, September 2). Child Sexual Abuse. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/types/violence/child-sexual-abuse.asp

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2016, February 23). PTSD in Children and Adolescents. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/children/ptsd_in_children_and_adolescents_overview_for_professionals.asp

Parenting While Depressed: 10 Things to Remember

By Jenise Harmon, LISW-S

Featured at GoodTherapy.org, March 25, 2015

“Parenting is difficult enough when you feel fantastic, but when you’re struggling with depression, it can seem downright impossible.”

This article sets out to remind you that you are not alone and that you can still be a good parent to your children.

Harmon goes on to provide further detail in the full article, but here are the key points

  1. Sometimes “good enough” is perfectly fine.
  2. Find your tribe.
  3. Find a psychiatrist.
  4. Beware of postpartum depression.
  5. Forgive yourself and your children.
  6. You are not your condition.
  7. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
  8. Lighten things up.
  9. Live fearlessly.
  10. Let your children in.

By Jenise Harmon, LISW-S

For the article in full, please select the following link;

http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/parenting-while-depressed-10-things-to-remember-0325145

A Guide to Seeking Justice and Compensation: For Victims of Child Abuse

Author: Malcolm Underhill

Introduction

It is only recently that society has finally acknowledged the harm caused to those abused as a child. Understandably a lot of attention has been given over to improvements in safeguarding, so the mistakes of the past are not repeated. Many column inches have been devoted to abuse perpetuated by celebrities and the behaviour of institutions. Unfortunately the consequences of abuse, the harm caused as children extending into adult life, have been afforded less attention.

The purpose of this guide is to provide some information on the steps to take if you;

  • are, or have been, a victim of abuse in order to obtain justice for wrong that you have suffered
  • want to help prevent others from being abused
  • wish to obtain compensation for medical and psychological resources that you may require as part of the healing and recovery process

Financial compensation for the physical and sexual abuse on its own does not make up for years of suffering. However that compensation can be put to good use to obtain medical help on a private basis, which often becomes necessary as the NHS has limited resources to meet the demands of those with mental health challenges. The compensation can also be used as platform for a new start in life.

What to Do If You Have Been Abused

Whether the person now bringing a claim for compensation is an adult, who has suffered with the effects of child abuse for many years, or a parent who has recently discovered their child has been abused, they will require support. They will, already, have shown tremendous courage just to speak to someone about their experience.

If the victim of child abuse, or a parent of a minor, wishes to pursue sexual abuse compensation, they should approach a solicitor who has experience in acting for child abuse victims. The solicitor will have a detailed knowledge of the subject, beyond the letter of the law.

Dealing with your legal advisor
An experienced and sensitive child abuse solicitor will not ask you for the precise details of what happened to you at a first (or even a second) meeting. The initial meeting will seek to understand the background to when, where and how the assaults took place. Your legal advisor will appreciate the difficulties around speaking of the assaults.

Reporting the abuse to the police
The solicitor will recommend that the victim, or the parents of the child, report the allegations of abuse to the police. This is necessary as a criminal offence has been committed and, accordingly, those assaults should be investigated. A report to the police is also important for the sexual abuse compensation, as the police investigation running parallel with the victim compensation claim can assist by improving chances of success.

The police are sensitive to the effects of child abuse and therefore will assign specially trained police officers to interview the victim of the abuse.

Contact your doctor
In addition to reporting the abuse to the police, the solicitor will recommend that the victim report the child abuse to their GP. It is important that, irrespective of the claim for compensation, medical help is sought to deal with the consequences of the abuse. The effects of child abuse can be very harmful over many years, and therefore medical support is essential if the victim is to cope in the longer term. The victim’s GP will not have the training to counsel the victim, but will have access to resources and be able to point the victim of child abuse in the direction of those support services – so counselling and other therapies are made available.

How to Prepare Yourself to Seek Compensation For the Abuse

It is understandable that some victims do not wish to speak about the harm done to them. Indeed, some victims never speak. Those who feel able to speak and seek help will need time to reflect on the steps that they are about to take.

Having not spoken about the abuse (in some cases) for some years, they will need to prepare themselves for talking about events that may trigger unpleasant emotions. Therefore, a consultation with their GP before a first appointment with the solicitor may assist.

Prepare a file containing records
Create a file containing records and dates of the abuse, the address of the institution and the name of the individuals involved.

Records can form part of the sexual abuse compensation claim, if only to demonstrate that an individual was a member of a club or attended a school between specific dates. All these investigations are carried out by a solicitor, not the victims of child abuse.

Some children are aware of others being abused at the same time. However, some are abused alone or without an awareness that others have also been assaulted. In any case, it will be necessary for the solicitor to track down those other victims, or others who attended the same institution (but were not abused). It is important that the victim does not seek to make contact with other alleged victims, as it may be suggested by those defending the compensation claim, that evidence has been “improved” by victims discussing their individual experiences.

Obstacles and Issues to bear in mind
Unfortunately, paedophiles rarely admit their actions and have little concern for the impact of their iniquitous ways.

Many abusers take advantage of children through their own employment or voluntary work. In those circumstances, the employer or charity may be legally responsible for the paedophile’s actions. However, without cooperation from the alleged paedophile, they too may be slow to admit legal responsibility. Consequently it may be necessary to commence legal proceedings against the paedophile and or their employer. However that does not mean the victims of child abuse have to go to trial, to win compensation, as the vast majority of cases are compromised outside court.

When pursuing sexual abuse compensation, various defences can be put up by the paedophile or their employer (or their insurers-who pay the compensation), arguing that the allegations have been brought too late, ie outside the normal three year time limit to bring such claims. (The general rule is that victim compensation claims have to be brought within 3 years of the abuse.)

However, the 3 year rule is flexible in child abuse cases, as the courts recognise the difficulties an individual may have in making allegations at the time of the assaults. However delay is still an argument that victims have to overcome, in order to recover compensation for the harm done to them. They need to explain why the allegations of abuse were not made earlier. This could include:

  • The mental and physical health of the victim in the years following the abuse
  • Life events which may have prevented the victim from contacting the police and legal representatives
  • Other personal issues which would have prevented the victim from making an earlier claim

Keeping a long term view
To tell others that you have been abused requires great courage. It is a step that is never taken without considerable thought, and even then with some trepidation. Bringing a victim’s compensation claim is not a mechanistic process; it requires skilled work undertaken by an experienced solicitor to prove the abuser carried out the acts complained of, and/or that others in an organisation (for whom the abuser was engaged) has legal responsibility for the abuse. The solicitor will address the issue of delay, if it arises, and obtain medical evidence to demonstrate the effects of the harm done.

The police will also undertake their own inquiries that can lead to a criminal prosecution of the paedophile. All of this can cause the victim of abuse to become distressed as past memories and the trauma of the abuse can be triggered.

Obtaining support from medical and mental health professionals, charities and other support networks at the start of your child abuse claim can help prepare you for the journey ahead. As always it is important to keep the long term objective in mind. Your aim is to secure justice for the painful abuse and compensation to help you, the victim, gain the support and resources required to rebuild your life, without the abuse continuing to dominate all that you do.

 

Author Bio
Malcolm Underhill is a child abuse solicitor with experience of representing child victims and adult survivors of abuse.
For more information on obtaining justice and compensation for the abuse, please visit http://www.ibblaw.co.uk/service/personal-injury-and-clinical-negligence/child-abuse.