Physical and Psychological Symptoms Can Substantiate Memories of Trauma and Child Sexual Abuse
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms can vary in intensity, and can come and go depending upon your level of stress, joy, whom you are with, or where you are.
You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed about small or large things happening in your life.
You may feel the PTSD symptoms when you experience reminders of any past trauma or repressed trauma.
Some examples are a car backfiring, someone slamming a door, the sound of footsteps, dishes being rattled in the kitchen, someone knocking on a door, or any sudden or unexpected sound.
Anything on a television program can trigger a post traumatic response, and sometimes, a voice on a television show –especially if you are not watching the show and only listening to it– can trigger a repressed memory. You may not be certain what the memory means, or have a full memory of anything, but the trigger is often a piece of a puzzle.
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of a traumatic event (and the event might not make any sense to you)
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event
- Avoidance (which is avoiding certain people, places, events, or activities that could remind you of a traumatic or emotionally painful event).
Other PTSD symptoms can include:
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Always being on guard for danger (hyper-vigilance)
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
- Self-destructive behavior, like drug or alcohol addiction, or sexual promiscuity
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Being easily startled or frightened
People who have been sexually abused, psychologically traumatized, and physically traumatized as children can also experience a variety of other symptoms. These include somatic disturbances, visual images, auditory memories, and memories that are experienced in the form of taste, touch, and smell.
“Body memories” are somatic reactions to unhealed sexual abuse and trauma, and have been reported in Holocaust survivors who have not gotten past their depression and anxiety. The relentless somatic disorders in the war survivors have been linked to their trauma in the camps.
Body memories are a common reaction to trauma
Most people who have been sexually abused (whether or not they have always remembered it) have physical problems which stem from the abuse. The brain is attached to the body. Body memories are simply the brain sending signals to other parts of the body in the moment when the person is reminded of the trauma or sexual abuse. The trigger is usually subconscious, so often, the person has no idea what has triggered their reaction.
The body holds the emotional pain when the mind cannot yet handle it –due to denial, or perhaps an inability to yet comprehend something horrific that has happened to them at the hands of family members, loved ones, or a parent.
A study on eighty-six women found that those with unclear memories of abuse suffered symptoms close to, or as severe, as those who had always known they were sexually abused. Those with unclear memories ranked higher in the number of symptoms than those who had suffered physical abuse in childhood, but not sexual abuse.
The symptoms reported were heart problems, neurological issues, and other chronic physical ailments. Excessive prescriptions, medical appointments, visits to emergency rooms, and extreme cases of PTSD were also listed.
In another study, rape and incest victims were found to have severe symptoms of PTSD, and only the victims of incest had chronic PTSD.
The research from one study revealed that patients with chronic pelvic pain also have somatic symptoms unexplained by anything organic, and the subjects also had a history of trauma and suffered dissociation.
Columbia University Medical Center confirms that at least one third of females with chronic pelvic pain have been sexually assaulted at some point of their life. The pain can feel as though it is deep inside the pelvic area, or it can feel close to the surface. It might come and go, in addition to being sharp or dull. People have described it as burning, crushing, a feeling of pressure, or like “pins-and-needles” inside the vagina.
I experienced that exact pain in my vagina for years, and it dissolved by regressing to the rapes during hypno-analysis, and by facing those rapes, and healing them at the subconscious level.
Traumatic experiences are strongly associated with physical problems that cannot be assigned to any organic disease. Physical abuse and threats to one’s life are also more linked to somatic dissociation.
People who completely dissociate from, or have repressed memories for, an abusive experience in childhood often have more physical symptoms than those who do not. Women who report a lesser amount of trauma, or none at all, display and report less psychological dissociation.
It is well documented that on-going physiological and psychological reactions to reminders of childhood trauma is a prime and common response to that trauma.
Dahlenberg found that delayed memories of abuse are as authentic as memories which have never been forgotten.