I’m going to get more in-depth about some of the causes of PTSD, I will speak about those I know of from personal experience and some that I don’t. So the first one that I have experience with is childhood sexual abuse.
Childhood sexual abuse robs children of their innocence, safety, trust and is a severe violation of their boundaries which induces in them fear, guilt, shame and self blame. Children are taught to trust and respect adults from a very young age but that can be dangerous because of the adults who use that to prey on children.
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
“Sexual abuse represents any kind of sexual contact between an adult or older teen and a child. This behavior is used to gain power over the child and often involves a betrayal of the child’s trust.
There are many types of sexual abuse, some include physical contact or touching offenses. This includes fondling, touching sexual organs, masturbation, making the child touch the adult sexually, and vaginal or anal penetration with self or objects. Non touching offenses include exposing a child to pornographic material, indecent exposure, leering and deliberately putting the child in the position of having to witness an act of sexual intercourse.”
In some cases it’s a stranger who grooms or abducts the child and in other cases its someone who is known by the child who grooms them for abuse. My abuse was by a neighbour and started when I was approximately 5 yrs old and lasted until I was approximately 8. I have to give approximations because my mind has blocked out most of the abuse but for some occasional flashbacks. He was a grandfatherly older man who had a granddaughter that I played with when she visited him. He indeed shattered my innocence, I was never the same little girl again and grew up having trust issues with men, boundary issues and intimacy issues.
If childhood sexual abuse is not treated, long-term symptoms can go on through adulthood. These may include:
- PTSD and anxiety.
- Depression and thoughts of suicide.
- Sexual anxiety and disorders, including having too many or unsafe sexual partners.
- Difficulty setting safe limits with others (e.g., saying no to people) and relationship problems.
- Poor body image and low self-esteem.
- Unhealthy behaviors, such as alcohol, drugs, self-harm, or eating problems. These behaviors are often used to try to hide painful emotions related to the abuse.
Outcomes of sexual abuse:
“By far the most common effect of sexual abuse is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Symptoms can extend far into adulthood and can include withdrawn behavior, reenactment of the traumatic event, avoidance of circumstances that remind one of the event, and physiological hyper-reactivity.
Another legacy of sexual abuse is that children abused at any early age often become hyper-sexualized or sexually reactive. Issues with promiscuity and poor self-esteem are unfortunately common reactions to early sexual abuse.”
I never told anyone until I was in my 20’s about my abuse so there was never any treatment until I was well into adulthood already. Thus started my journey on the road to PTSD. This is why when child sexual abuse is disclosed there needs to be immediate intervention to begin healing the trauma hopefully before PTSD has a chance to take hold.
This is just one type of trauma that can lead to PTSD and there are several more, which leads me to believe there are many people walking around today who have no idea that they have PTSD. Misdiagnosis of PTSD seems to be a leading factor and impediment to healing. In discussing the causes I am hoping to generate a greater understanding of the types of trauma that lead to PTSD. Knowledge is power which hopefully can lead to proper diagnosis in the future so the healing can begin.