Research has shown that child sexual abuse
results in long-term medical consequences and is associated with many illnesses. Lesserman (2005) and other researchers have studied the relationship between child sexual abuse and physical health. The following illnesses are present more often in individuals who have been sexually abused than in patients without such a history.
- Chronic Pain
- Pelvic Pain
- Chest Pain
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Chemical Sensitivities
- Gastrointestinal Symptoms (Includes Nonulcer Dyspepsia and Severe Constipation)
- Non-Migraine and Migraine Headaches
- Non-epileptic Seizures (Pseudoseizures)
- Gynecological disorders
- Bladder Infections
- Heart Disease
- Eating Disorders
- Spincter of Oddi dysfuncion
The mind and body are connected, and sexual abuse results in negative health effects in both mind and body. Early intervention, maternal support, counseling for emotional symptoms, process through the grief, and protection from further abuse are prevention measures against adult illness.
An article in Rewire Me: Unlock Your Mind is an important article for all parents to read. It talks about the life-long consequences of child sexual abuse and also details steps that parents can take to reverse the consequences.
The article explains how child sexual abuse affects adult health.The original Adverse Childhood Experience study (conducted from 1995 to 1997) examined the link between childhood trauma and the likelihood of developing medical conditions as an adult. A collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego, the study canvassed 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization patients willing to offer extensive information about childhood experiences of neglect, family dysfunction, and abuse. More than half the study respondents reported at least one category of childhood trauma, and a quarter of them reported more than two. The study results, released in 1998, were staggering. The researchers admitted feeling “stunned”: For the first time, a study proved that childhood adversity can create an early process of inflammation and cellular aging that can, among other ill effects, shorten a lifespan by almost 20 years. Even when controlling for subjects who engage in high-risk activities like smoking, drinking, and overeating, childhood trauma produces the same increased risk for everyone. Across the board, for example, respondents had a 360% increase in risk for heart disease. With extensive data showing that childhood trauma rewires the mind and body, we must ask: Can it be rewired again—after trauma, before illness—to improve outcomes?
Advancements in the field of neuroscience have taught us the vast opportunities found in rewiring entire mind and body systems, which opens the door for envisioning how we might reverse the ACE research in future generations.
Children who have experienced a trauma need the adults in their lives to take these five steps: 1) Immediately address the trauma.
2) Reframe the world as a safe place.
3) Help the child develop self-efficacy and control.
4) Work with professionals in helping your child,.
5) Teach children to rewire their mind and body.