Child Sexual Abuse Can Cause Life-Long and Serious Medical Conditions

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.

______________________________________________________________Child Sources:

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.

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10 Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Can Cause Life-Long and Serious Medical Conditions

  1. kristy says:

    I, too, was abused sexually by my father’s brother at my grandmothers home when I stayed over. He groomed me for years prior with gifts and stroking. Then at age 12-14 he raped and sodomized me and threatened to kill me if I told anyone.
    Well, I told my mom, but she told my dad and they decided NOT to believe me. I tried to commit suicide, took a bottle of pills (moms antipsycotic medicine as she was schizophernic) and had to be rushed by ambulance to the local hospital where they pumped out my stomach. Then they sent me to a larger hospital for care and after 2 days my dad signed me out. They had recommended psychiatric care and he lied to them, stating he was a doctor and he would see to my care. Well, he was only a doctor of physics NOT medicine.
    On the ride home he and Mom were in front seat – I saw his eyes in rearvidew mirror cold and blue looking at me as he said” If you ever talk about this again to anyone you will wish you were dead.” And my mom parroted him saying “yes Kristy you will wish you were dead.” No one spoke and I cried silent tears all the way home.
    My life was horrible after that. I felt so alone and unloved.
    I got pregnant and married at 17 to get away, I think. My marriage was bad. I had 2 kids in 2 years and the second was struck with a crippling rare disease. I got no help from my parents when the shit hit the fan, they did not even allow me to use their washer and dryer when it was a really bad time in my life. My parents were not poor, they could have helped me, but I went on welfare for a few years.

    My marriage ended in divorce and my 2nd marriage is better but not perfect. My current spouse has alcohol and PSTD (Vietnam) problems hard to deal with. But I have no one else as whole family is estranged. One of my 2 sisters will not even talk tgo me and she fraudulently stole our parents estate.
    Now 63 years old, multiple health problems are a way of life. I am very heartsiock by all of this and fully hear you when you describe “broken heart” syndrome to me…
    I feel for all abused children so much I cry when I hear news on TV.

    • Alethea says:

      Kristy, your story is very painful to me. I am so sorry. I can relate to you because of the disbelief, death threats, cover-ups, and a sister who won’t talk to to you. I have a sister who has not spoken to me in about 14 years. What did I do to her? NOTHING. A big fat NOTHING. She treated me like crap my entire life while I strived to gain her approval and sister-hood. Then, when I came out to my mother about the incest (the incest between me and my father. I never mentioned any of my sisters with regards to anything), my sister called me cruel names and cut me out of her life as easily as one might flick a fly from their arm.

      It was extremely painful at the time but I have healed that wound and know that her reaction shows how disturbed she is and how she needs help to deal with some serious emotional pain inside herself. Her reaction has nothing to do with me, and I am at peace knowing that.

      I suffered from multiple health problems too. If you ever want to rid yourself of your pain and heal those physical issues, contact me via email. My therapist saved my life and helped me heal from things that send most people onto prescription drugs, into surgery rooms, and to suicide.


  2. little nel says:

    What does “over-powering my abusers” mean in regression therapy?

    • Alethea says:

      When I have hypnoanalysis (quite different from hypnosis), I access the subconscious mind, and go back to the age in which the event took place. By tapping into the subconscious, I then feel and experience the anger, fear, pain, shame…whatever emotion was felt at the time. I am remembering the event in that moment -as if it were happening all over again- only this time, I get to do and say what I wanted to do and say at the time, but was too powerless because I was just a child.

      In the age-regression therapy, I get to imagine growing as tall as the house, and throw my father off me with the power and strength of a warrior. I get to tell him or my mother how they truly made me feel and that it was not okay what they were doing, and that I am stopping it and taking power over it. At this subconscious level, I can imagine and do in my mind, whatever I want. I can throw my parents into a black hole, or have the police come and take them away. Sometimes I imagine them in court being sentenced to life in prison.

      I then imagine burning the house I grew up in, and replacing it with a beautiful place with angels and butterflies, and a place where I can be free like a child and express myself without fear. Sometimes I imagine ending the regression by picturing myself speaking publicly at an abuse survivor’s conference and I put my entire family in the audience to listen.

      The key to this therapy is doing it at the *subconscious level* because it is at the same exact mental level as when the abuse actually happened.

      • little nel says:

        How neat!

        I had some experience based therapy similar to that but it was not on the sub-conscious level that I am aware of. I believe it was called “guided imagery.”

  3. little nel says:

    After reading this list of common ailments that abuse victims often suffer with, I can relate to many of them, unfortunately.

    I can see now where the phrase about the “broken heart” has validity.

    A lack of love or trauma? Many of us have experienced both in our childhoods.

    My cousin just revealed to me that he still has nightmares from his childhood and he is 64. His step-father abused him from the age of 4.

    I know what it’s like to have nightmares since childhood for 60 years. Those nightmares stopped when I hired bodyguards to protect me from my personal violent offender.

    • Alethea says:

      Imagine Little Nel, nightmares, still, at age 64. Wow. Poor man. I had nightmares consistently for about 20 years that I can recall. I have quieted them by overpowering my abusers in my regression therapy. Sometimes nightmares are “realmares” because they can be an actual memory and not just the subconscious giving the person symbols and emotions.

      • little nel says:

        I remember reading a book by Wayne Dyer. There were things in that book that triggered one of my nightmares to occur when I was awake. It was like watching a fast forward of the nightmare in my mind (symbols and emotions) and so it seemed as if I was in two places at the same time.

        It frightened me so badly because it was so unexpected and weird. I did not “do drugs” so it wasn’t induced by chemicals, but I felt like fainting afterwards.

        It took me a while to figure out that Wayne Dyer was on to something that I needed to learn more about.

  4. manuela says:

    Well, this quote “Even when questioned, people who have been sexually abused as a children don’t always reveal their tragic history” made me realize, more than ever, that i should not have great expectations from my child (age 4) to tell me exactly what is happening at the kindergarten. He is just extremely terrified to go there. What can i do to make him tell me?

    • Alethea says:


      I know of a case where a woman’s ‘grandfather figure’ neighbor, was sexually molesting both her daughters every day while she went to work. She used to tell her daughters every day, “Now you know you can tell me if anyone ever touches your private parts, or makes you uncomfortable in any way. I won’t be angry, it’s okay to tell me.” But neither daughter ever did. The molester was discovered in some other way (I forget how). I saw the case on a 48 Hours type of program.

      My suggestion to you would be to contact an organization that has professionals to advise you. The Kempe Foundation was founded by Marilyn Van derbur, so that is a good start:

      Or try Justice for Children:
      Phone: 713-225-4357
      Toll free :1-800-733-0059
      DC Chapter: 202-462-4688

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