Experts say victims of child abuse have a higher rate of heart disease and cancer.
I suffered for over two decades with psychosomatic symptoms in the form of an irregular heart beat, rapid heart beat, and various pains in my heart or chest, all of which disappeared with psychoanalysis therapy for the incest.
The possibility exists that in certain people, heart disease could be the result of a lack of love or a deep seated psychological wound. Look at the phrase, “he broke my heart.” Coincidence?
For some people, cancer might be the consequence of deep-seated resentment or rage having been pushed downward in order to co-exist with those who have profoundly harmed them.
Louise Hay, author of Heal Your Life, the best-selling book about the mind/body connection, was raped at age five by a neighbor. When she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the late seventies, Louise knew the cancer was caused by her unwillingness to forgive her rapist. Louise refused surgery and drugs, and chose to undergo psychotherapy. She then began the road to forgiveness. She also utilized nutrition and other alternative healing methods, but I am certain that letting go of her resentment was the key to her full recovery from the cancer.
Studies have also linked child sexual and physical abuse to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other gastrointestinal disorders.
I had serious IBS as an adult, which lasted about five years. It was directly linked to my unresolved fear stemming from my father’s death threats and disappeared with psychotherapy.
One study looked at common medical symptoms in 397 women. The researchers found that those who had been abused as children and/or adults were more likely to come down with disease and multiple medical symptoms than other women.
Researchers feel that any woman who seeks healthcare for their numerous physical symptoms should be interviewed about a history of trauma, abuse, or violence but these experiences often go unreported by the patient unless asked. Even when questioned, people who have been sexually abused as a child don’t always reveal their tragic history.
In my case, when I was seeing a multitude of doctors to find out why I was so sick, I had not yet remembered being sexually abused, so I certainly could not have revealed any history of abuse to the medical professionals who were trying to diagnose me.
David K. Sakheim PhD is a nationally known expert in the area of trauma-related and Dissociative Disorders. Sakheim verifies that people who have experienced trauma can be plagued with a variety of physical symptoms, which have been documented and are known as “body memories.”
These somatic memories most often affect the major organs, neurological system, and nervous system, along with other significant parts of the human body.
Experts say that twenty-five percent of disabled adults have been sexually or physically abused as children and their disability was brought on by their assaults. About 400,000 people have Multiple Sclerosis, and a history of trauma has been linked to the disease. MS affects women two to three times more than men and the symptoms can imitate Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CFS, or CFIDS).
According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, FM is an illness which causes chronic pain that includes stiffness, musculoskeletal aches, sleep disruptions, fatigue, and tenderness in the soft tissue. The pain attacks the shoulders, back, neck, hands, and the pelvic girdle. Any part of the body can be affected. Throbbing, stabbing, and shooting pain is common, and numbness or burning sensations are also experienced.
Approximately twelve million people have Fibromyalgia; the vast majority of those are women. Similar to CFIDS, many symptoms of FM, imitate the symptoms that survivors of child sexual abuse also suffer from.
CFIDS and FM are often mentioned in unison in medical journals, and by professional associations. Fibromyalgia is also linked to child sexual abuse. People with FM are often interrupted abruptly from their sleep with “awake-like brain activity.”
It is possible that those who have FM, and who go through this “awake-like” brain stimulation, are re-experiencing something similar as those with PTSD. They may be bolting awake to defend themselves against a no longer visible threat, but to their subconscious mind, it is a very real attacker.
Abuse Causes Lasting Health Effects, Washington, United Press International via Comtex
Early abuse, psychiatric diagnoses and irritable bowel syndrome. Blanchard EB, Keefer L, Payne A, Turner SM, Galovski TE Behav Res Ther 2002 Mar;40(3):289-98 . Other source: Sexual and physical abuse in women with functional or organic gastrointestinal disorders. Drossman DA, Leserman J, Nachman G, Li ZM, Gluck H, Toomey TC, Mitchell CM. University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill.
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2000;54:815-821 as reported by Reuters
Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999
Kilpatrick, D., and B. Saunders “Prevalence and Consequences of Child Victimization,” Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Research in Brief, National Institute of Justice, 1997
Sexual and physical abuse in women with Fibromyalgia: association with outpatient health care utilization and pain medication usage. Alexander RW, Bradley LA, Alarcon GS, Triana-Alexander M, Aaron LA, Alberts KR, Martin MY, Stewart KE. Department of Psychology (Medical Psychology Program), University of Alabama at Birmingham 35294, USA.