POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER is believed by many experts to be the most common aftereffect of sexual abuse. PTSD itself has a subset of varying symptoms, which the Mayo Clinic says may include fearful thoughts and bad dreams; also depression, worry, intense guilt, panic attacks, and feeling emotionally numb (dissociation).

The most central feature of PTSD, however, is flashbacks. Persons find their minds constantly jumping back and forth between past and present. Anything — even something as minor as walking past a person with long hair, if the perpetrator had long hair — can be a trigger. Not just the memory itself comes back, but so do the emotions connected with that memory, a sort of persistent “re-experiencing” the traumatic events. Those with the disorder would like to be able to turn it off, but cannot. They have to find a way to deal with the constant onslaught of images and overpowering feelings. Those are often accompanied by the “fight or flight” response, a reaction of the autonomic nervous system to the visually invasive images in the mind.

 PTSD actually changes the physical properties of the brain. That is, how the left side of the brain, which controls logical thinking, interacts with the right side that controls emotions. When the two sides work together as they are designed to, a person will feel strong emotions when a distressing event happens. But at some point the brain of a non-PTSD person moves those feelings and memories to the left hemisphere where they are “time-stamped.” After that, the memories aren’t felt as strongly when they come to mind again. But with PTSD, the memories stay lodged in the right side of the brain, so any little thing—a word, a smell, a place, an event—triggers the same emotions felt as when the event first happened. Persons with PTSD cannot simply “stop thinking about it” or “get over it.” Telling them to “let it go” is not only unhelpful, it lays another burden of guilt and failure on their shoulders.

Researchers are continually looking for ways to help people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A few ways include cognitive therapy, medication, biofeedback, stress inoculation training, exposure therapy, and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Every person is different; therefore some may be helped by one method, and some by another.

Everyone who lives with PTSD eventually develops his or her own ways of coping. Some ways, like alcohol and illicit drugs, are obviously not good ways. But those with this disorder tend to be resilient, strong, and creative people. Over time, and if they have the love and support of people who care, they devise “mental tools” that enable them to function and even thrive, to help make their own little corner of the world a better place.


Resources for PTSD:

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs—National Center for PTSD:  

                http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/types/violence/child-sexual-abuse.asp

                https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp

 

American Addiction Centers—information on the link between PTSD and addictions:
                 https://www.projectknow.com/the-link-between-ptsd-and-alcoholism/
                 https://americanaddictioncenters.org/co-occurring-disorders/ptsd-addiction


National Institute of Mental Health:

                https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

If you feel you are in danger, call 911 immediately!

Suicide Prevention:

  • SAVE (Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education)—“Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can SAVE lives.”     http://www.save.org/

  • The Jason Foundation — “Keeping more than dreams alive”— In memory of 16-year-old Jason Flatt, this foundation helped pass the Jason Flatt Act,  the nation’s most inclusive and mandatory youth suicide awareness and prevention legislation pertaining to Teacher’s In-Service Training.     http://jasonfoundation.com

If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  All calls are confidential.  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this website (not including links to other sites which are the responsibility of those site owners) are based on the opinions of David Samarzia, and presented with the understanding that he does not intend to render any type of medical, psychological, legal, or any other kind of professional advice.

If you’ve been the victim of inappropriate sexual behavior, here’s my best advice: Tell someone. We are social creatures in that we need other people. Nothing is worse than going against the grain of our genetic makeup and locking away a painful secret in a place so deep inside we think no one will find out. It will become a voracious worm eating away at our mind, and it’s just a matter of time before we will cease to function. It isn’t far beyond that, that we will want to die—or even try to die.  But that need not happen, if we unburden the deepest hurts of our hearts to someone who cares.    David
                                                                                                                                          

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

Since I’ve been involved in working with sexually-abused individuals, the lasting expressions of molestation are evident to me. I see how abused persons cope and adapt in their own ways, but all with telltale consistencies. Like many others, I couldn’t hang onto my ability to enjoy life. Enjoyment of simple pleasures escaped me from my twelfth year on. Looking back, much of my life seems to be one long melancholy episode, with a few high spots thrown in.

I don’t ‘see’ things with feeling and emotion. A pretty panoramic view doesn’t move me. A television show doesn’t grab me. I can’t get involved in books at all. The whole world moves by me while I observe things like an outsider. I just can’t picture myself in the picture. Maybe it’s the PTSD. Maybe I feel I deserve to be left out. For whatever reason, I can’t break through to the point where I let myself join the rest of society.

 I’ve sometimes been described as dark and brooding and jaded. But that’s not the David who jumped in the river as a kid, exhilarated by the cold rush of water—my eyes blurring as I roll over on my back, reveling in the warmth of the sun on my skin as I glide beneath the surface. The David who felt a tingle of fear if my dog didn’t come when called, and bliss when she barreled out of the bushes to knock me flat. Spontaneous reactions of joy and delight are something I’ve denied myself for so long, I don’t know if I can ever relearn them. That is my signature from the abuse.           

                                                                                                                                                                             David  1997


Long before I spoke out at age 37 about my childhood sexual abuse, I worked day and night to try to change all the negative stuff inside me. One little step at a time, I devised coping skills, dealt with ongoing fear and panic attacks, used self-affirmations to get through each hour—all to try to feel and work and live as I assumed “normal” people did. Because I never felt normal after the abuse. The way in which a pedophile “grooms” a child psychologically and emotionally can be worse than the actual abuse, because it damages your sense of self and your ability to trust. If you can’t trust yourself,  you can’t trust anyone else. Without trust,  you don't have faith either.  Abuse can kill the soul.

I survived a teenage suicide attempt. That makes me one of the luckier ones. I’ve come a long way, even if it doesn’t feel like it some days. I still have wounds and may never find full closure. But I’m on track to a better future, and no one will derail me again.           
                                                                                                                                                                              David  2017

                                                                                                                          

RESOURCES

THE MALE EXPERIENCE OF SEXUAL TRAUMA:
At least 1 in 6 males report having been sexually abused  before the age of sixteen. That data translates to more than 17 million men in America alone. Many of them never tell anyone because they don’t realize that early sexual coercion by women or older men is abuse. Most blame themselves and feel shame that they didn’t say No or try to get away from the offender. Men who are sexually assaulted may suffer from the same type of emotional problems, depression, addictions, and PTSD as women who are assaulted. It is not uncommon for men who have experienced child sexual abuse or sexual assault to have to deal with suicidal thoughts. If suicidal thoughts are unchallenged, they can convince a man that because it is tough now, it will always be like this. If there is an opportunity to talk about suicidal thoughts, they can help a man to better understand what connections he values and the dreams and aspirations he has for life. In order for such conversation to occur, it is first important to make sure that he is safe now.


National crisis hotline:  1-800-4-A-CHILD  (1-800-422-04453)   https://www.childhelp.org/hotline/     
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the U.S. and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who provide assistance in over 170 languages (through interpreters). The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.




 






Information on abuse:
  • Darkness To Lightequipping people with knowledge and skills to effectively protect children    https://www.d2l.org/
  • National Center for Victims of Crime—the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them  http://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics
  • Prevent Child Abuse America—promoting services that improve child well-being in all 50 states through their state chapters, developing programs that help to prevent all types of abuse and neglect           https://www.preventchildabuse.org
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)—a ton of information including the Criminal Statute of Limitations by state     https://www.rainn.org/public-policy-action
  • Stop It Now!—mobilizing families and communities to take action to protect children before they are harmed        http://stopitnow.org
  • American SPCC (Society for the Positive Care of Children)—their mission: to ensure that every child has a chance to become a happy, healthy, and productive adult.  https://americanspcc.org/child-sexual-abuse
  • ChildHelp—Goal is to meet the physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs of abused, neglected and at-risk children, with efforts on prevention, intervention, treatment, and community outreach.     https://www.childhelp.org