Tuesday, February 26, 2013

PTSD and Sexual Abuse

I can not believe it has been over a year that I have blogged and what I find even more astonishing is that I have found a few minutes to return to my only true healing outlet.  So here I am engulfed with rage after a colleague and I entered into a brash discussion consisting of nothing but degradation,  humiliation and sheer anger which has left me exhausted to say the least.  Given the background on this individual and the knowledge I have on fundamental psychological functions it is clear that his behavior is nothing more and nothing less then a defense mechanism, one in which has obviously suited him very well.  I can't blame him as he suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after serving not one but two tours in military.  I feel he is afraid that by sharing the diagnosis with those who have not seen dead bodies and heard the shells and rounds contiguously going off, his mental state might not seem that, well, intense.  Today I wanted to touch up on the topic of Sexual abuse and PTSD, something that has just recently been accepted,  at least in the field of medicine and psychology, as a very real outcome and most likely prognosis to victims of sexual abuse.

When we think of PTSD most associate it soldiers and those who have seen war, but the truth is, those who have been sexually abused have seen war too, have feltt a heightened sense of flight or fight for longer periods than any other in the common world.  The wounds may be cut differently but the aftermath is identical and for this reason more and more victims of sexual abuse are being diagnosed with PTSD.  PTSD ranges in intensity for several reasons and NOT because any of the pain caused was less than or greater than one another but merely the fact that some people are more resilliant to things than others.  In my opinion PTSD is yes a mental disorder but one created out of nessacity, a survival mechanism, I woud say something was even more wrong if victims of any kind of trauma did not experaince some sort of PTSD even in it' milder forms.

So what exactly is PTSD?  PTSD occurs when the person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present: the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others" and "the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror."

There are a variety of different symptoms of PTSD that a survivor may experience. Flashbacks are one of these symptoms. Flashbacks are "acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated)."
  1. efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
  2. efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
  3. inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma

PTSD also manifests itself as increased awareness and hypersensitivity. For example:
  1. difficulty falling or staying asleep
  2. irritability or outbursts of anger
  3. difficulty concentrating
  4. hyper vigilance
  5. exaggerated startle response 

As a suffer of PTSD It has taken me a quite some effort to work through some of the debilitating ramifications of my abuse but there is a light at the end of that tunnel.  I have fallen victim over and over again to the fear, the dreams, the anger but I get back up.  As I previously mentioned we all have our own genetic predispositions to resiliency, use it to your advantage.  When you feel weak, remember that you too have that gene, make it work for you, that is what it is designed for.

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
Read more at" ~ Mark Twain