The Relationship between Sexual Abuse and Mental Disorders

By Matt Bulkley | Blog Education Series

STAR Guides Wilderness - The Relationship between Sexual Abuse and Mental Disorders

There have been several studies which prove that sexual abuse and a history of trauma can lead to the development of mental disorders in victims, especially females. The association between traumatic events and adverse mental health can often be observed very clearly. The experience the children go through at a young age, the coercion, use of force, deceptions and injuries, can alter their behavior and outlook on life permanently.

We often come across such individuals in our Wilderness therapy program. Enrollment in a program like ours can be helpful for these adolescents, because our counselors can teach them to cope with their issues and try to become a productive member of society.

Verbal Abuse and Esteem Issues

Teenagers that suffer constant verbal abuse as children can lose confidence in themselves and their self of esteem is shattered. They doubt everything they do, and it gets worse as they reach adulthood. If the right treatment is not provided, this can lead to serious psychological issues.

Psychological Abuse and PTSD

Suffering coercion at the hands of someone they trust, or in some ways, being neglected by them can cause stress issues in the victims. The extreme form of this stress is PTSD which can be commonly found in the victims of abuse.

Physical Abuse and Personality Disorders

Harsh punishments, usually accompanied by injuries, can do more than just physical damage to children. As studies prove, physical abuse – physically injuring or harming a child – can cause mood, anxiety and personality disorders in the victims; issues which they carry with them into their adult life. And some experts even believe that this kind of abuse can actually shrink some parts of the child’s brain; resulting in various developmental issues.

Sexual Abuse and Addiction Issues

Research proves that there is a direct link between childhood sexual abuse and mental health issues later in life. Addiction is now defined as a psychological issue; it can often stem from deep-rooted and unresolved past abuse issues. Victims of sexual abuse try to escape the memories of their abuse by using addictive substances that give them a temporary respite from their pain. They participate in self-destructive behavior and can develop suicidal thoughts and even harm themselves.

The information above shows the relationship different kinds of abuse have with mental disorders. Such disorders can become debilitating, if left untreated. If your child is experiencing such difficulties, then you should get in touch (800.584.4629) with us immediately and possibly enroll him/her in our Wilderness therapy program.

About the Author

Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.

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