Sharing – Childhood sexual abuse: Mental and physical after-effects closely linked
The study looked at the fact that among girls who had been sexually abused, there are marked increases in mental health diagnosis, and also physical health issues like urinary tract infections, etc. I think either of these is a possibility, maybe even both are true for different survivors. But, I also know that I’m looking at this through the lens of a male survivor, and my own relationship with doctors and physical health. That’s not really the same.
“Two hypotheses offered
“On an emotional and behavioural level, two hypotheses can be formulated to explain these findings,” said Vézina-Gagnon. The first is that the association is due to a hypervigilant response. Survivors of sexual abuse who are affected by several mental health issues – such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder – may become hypervigilant or more likely to notice symptoms related to their genital or urinary health, which would lead them to see their doctor more frequently.
“In contrast,” she continued, “the second hypothesis is that the association is caused by avoidant behaviour. Survivors may put off or avoid asking for help or seeing a doctor for genitourinary issues, thereby increasing the risk that such problems deteriorate or become chronic conditions. Gynecological care may trigger memories of past abuse (due to the imbalance of power between patients and doctors, the removal of clothing, feelings of vulnerability and physical pain) and it may therefore be especially difficult for these girls.””
So, I am curious, which of these seems more likely for you personally? Or, do you see yourself in both a little bit?