ISD AND THE MIND: SEXUAL TRAUMA AND ISD – CASES OF INCEST

Up to one million cases of incest are reported each year. It is estimated that one out of every four adult women and one out of every eight men were sexually abused in some way during childhood, often by an adult whom they knew and trusted. As you might expect, and as you well know if it happened to you, when an adult has sex with or otherwise sexually abuses a child, the child does not welcome the activity, rarely understands what is happening, and almost always feels powerless to prevent or stop it. Incest, because it also destroys the child’s trust and sense of safety, as well as the normal boundaries of parent-child relationships, inflicts deep psychological wounds that can last a lifetime.
Victims of incest and child molestation often go through life feeling helpless, dirty, damaged, or different from other people. They may blame themselves for what happened, think they have some inherently “evil” or “bad” part that draws unwanted attention to them, believe sex is dangerous or the only thing they are “good for,” feel powerless to control anything about their lives, or attempt to control every aspect of daily living. More often than not, they find it exceedingly difficult to trust or share any details about themselves with other people, making relationships problematic and true intimacy out of the question. They have numbed any feelings, including sexual ones, that may be associated with the abuse. We have yet to meet a childhood sexual-abuse victim whose sexuality had not been negatively affected in some way.
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