Why You Have Been Abused Multiple Times
A study out of Britain found that approximately 51% of adults who had been abused as children, were later involved as victims in some sort of domestic violence. In fact, those at the highest risk were those who suffered more than one type of abuse as a child and who were abused by a family member. Women survivors were also 4x more likely to be abused as an adult than their male counterparts. This occurs in all types of abuse including physical, emotional, neglect, sexual, or even witnessing someone else being abused.
But the Question Is Why is This True?
There are many different theories on the question of why adult survivors of abuse are more apt to be abused as adults. For increased clarity, I will group them into 3 main groups including socio-economic factors, emotional/psychological factors, and physical factors.
People who have survived childhood abuse are more likely to be unemployed and to live in poverty. The person is, therefore, more likely to be living in an unsafe neighborhood and to use public transportation. If the person is working, they are likely to be working in the service industry which usually involves working odd hours. Using public transportation at odd hours is not always safe and so the person is again put at risk.
It is also true that with poverty comes increased stress for the individual and for the family, and we know that this increased stress will in turn increase the risk of abuse occurring.
There is a theory that when children are abused, they adopt certain ways of coping and that these ways of coping are not healthy to use as an adult. Some of these might open the person up to being abused as an adult. Consider the following:
· An abused child learns that he/she cannot protect themself and that the world is a dangerous place. As an adult, if they continue to think this way, they will not seek any help when they need it.
· As an adult, survivors have an impaired sense of self. They may use the reactions of others to judge how they themselves should be feeling in any particular situation and this will make them vulnerable to manipulation by others.
· These children learn not to ask for help, and so as an adult may continue to have trouble doing so. This will isolate the person and keep them from seeking help when they most need it.
· Dissociation is a common symptom of survivors of abuse. As a child being abused, this is helpful to lessen the pain during abusive episodes, but as an adult, it may cause the person to not notice painful events or to ignore red flags that others would notice right away.
Because of this, it is very important that your trauma treatment include exploring effective coping strategies.
Recent studies have shown that adults who have survived childhood abuse and trauma have enduring negative effects on the development of their brains. In effect, it appears that these people have brain damage without any history of suffering a brain injury. It can affect things such as impulse control, response to stressors, increased fight or flight response, executive function, memory retrieval, attention, and emotional regulation. All of these problems would put a person at an increased risk of being abused.
It is also true that a history of being abused as a child will increase your risk of having an illness or physical disability. This will not only cause increased stress on the family, but it will also make the person more vulnerable, marking them as a potential target by abusers.
A third physical factor is that people with a history of being abused as a child are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs. This will put the person at increased risk for several reasons including the person will have decreased judgment when using, will place themself into unsafe situations with unsafe people, and potentially will compromise themselves to make money to buy substances.
Therapy Can Help
If you are a survivor of childhood abuse, and you recognize yourself in any of the above situations, there is hope. Your past puts you at increased risk, and you can’t change that. However, you can change the future and therapy can help. Therapy can assist you by helping you to recognize what happened to you as a child, to recognize how it affected you as a child and how it is continuing to affect you into adulthood, and it can help you to learn new ways of thinking that will help you to cope better, to have healthier relationships, and to live a happier life. Please reach out for help by contacting me today.
For More Information
If you would like to schedule an appointment for Trauma Treatment or read more on this topic, please contact me today. For more information on this very important topic, please look at the resources listed below: