Long-term, chronic, and severe child abuse causes a variety of medical and emotional issues for the survivors of such extensive abuse. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID/MPD) is one long-term issue, but medical complications are extremely common as well.
In addition to addiction issues and mental health issues, most survivors find that they have numerous medical issues as either a direct or indirect result of their severe childhood sexual abuse.
INCREASED MEDICAL COMPLICATIONS
- Numerous medical complications or physical ailments from the years of internalized stress, anger, bodily harm, etc.
- Increased risk of stress related diseases, including depression, bipolar, PTSD, anxiety, etc.
- Colitis, high blood pressure, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, fibromyalgia, etc.
- Frequent headaches and migraines
- Numerous dental issues, including harm to the teeth, especially if the survivor experienced a lot of drugging
- A history of shaken baby syndrome, whiplash, broken bones, head injuries, etc.
- Bizarre illnesses or medical conditions that are difficult to explain or diagnose
- Inability to thrive – failure to grow
- Physical or mental impairment due to early childhood injuries
- Brain development affected – people who are severely sexually abused in childhood have permanent changes in their brains, specifically in the left hemisphere. These changes cause increased difficulties in the way they think, react, feel, and behave.
Long-term, severe, chronic child abuse causes long-term, severe, chronic medical issues, with both physical health and mental health.
Who pays for that?
One of the most frustrating negative effects of childhood sexual abuse is that the survivors as adults, on their own and struggling through each day, are left to manage the costs of their medical and mental health treatment by themselves, with minimal financial assistance from the people that actually caused the harm.
Going the legal route in terms of suing for damages is typically unrealistic. Besides, dissociative survivors often need long-term therapy and treatment prior to being ’emotionally together enough’ to even consider a lawsuit. Either the survivors have not yet sorted out their trauma history / information in order to be able to present an organized, sequential legal suit, or they have too much internal conflict going on about what to tell, who to tell, etc. And, of course, being angry at the perpetrators is such a frightening thought that taking their perpetrators to court can be completely impossible.
So by the time dissociative survivors are able to deal with the legal world, they have already had to find a way to get years of therapy in the first place.
It’s so very frustrating to see the perpetrators walk away, comfortably well off after demolishing and destroying the lives of the survivors. Just like the pimps on the streets are comfortably rich in comparison to the beaten up, drug-addicted, stressed-out girls they sold on the corners, organized perpetrator groups are wealthy in comparison to the girls they’ve sold, abused, and used up.
Sometimes, perpetrator fathers will pay for therapy costs / medical bills as a quiet “under the table” compromise to their children. The “I’ll pay for your medical bills in exchange for your ongoing silence and not taking this to the public arena” exchange does happen, but it does not come without its own complications. Perpetrator fathers are very good at guilt-tripping their daughters, and having an ongoing connection to their perpetrator creates a constant tension and conflict in their healing process.
Insurance companies and disability policies are providing less and less coverage.
No one wants to pay for the crimes done by sex offenders, yet these offenders have created horrible life-long wounds for children all over the world.
One of the costs of long-term, severe child abuse for survivors is dealing with the complications of getting proper healing in the first place.
POOR MEDICAL AND THERAPEUTIC ASSISTANCE
- Excessive monies spent on medical bills, treatments, therapies, etc.
- Years of misdiagnosis, poor medical treatment, inappropriate therapies.
- Hospitalization after hospitalization after hospitalization – It’s not at all uncommon for survivors with DID to have over psychiatric 30 hospitalizations in their lives.
- Costs to insurance, government medical funds, unpaid medical facilities, etc.
- Finding appropriate therapeutic help is extremely difficult, and too often non-existent, leaving the victims to suffer even longer.
- Maintaining appropriate therapeutic help for the years it takes to overcome the depth of the damage is complicated and expensive. The treatment is heart wrenching and grueling work. And yet, intense therapy is required to improve a survivor’s devastated quality of life.
- Expensive medications are often needed for years to assist with stability.
- Psychiatric medications, though helpful in many ways, have many disturbing side effects that are also difficult to live with.
- Psychiatric medications are not prescribed in an exact science type of way. Survivors will go through years of trial and error to find what works for them and when. Different doctors prescribe medications differently.
So who pays for all of this?
Unfortunately, for the most part, survivors have to pay for their own healing by themselves, which means more sacrifices made by people who have lost quite enough in their lives already.
Is that fair? Is that right?
No, that is not fair. No, it is not right. Not at all.
But it is typically the only way for survivors to get the healing they need.
Is your healing worth this for you?
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
Lizzie and PALS says
Thanks for this post. I have had huge healing in my emotional issues, but my physical body is a wreck. I am lucky to have an incredible medical team who understands how trauma has contributed to several severe, chronic, and now terminal conditions, but I also have thousands in medical debt. The worst part is that I finally decided I truly wanted to live and had so many plans for my life, but now I’m dying. I’m so incredibly mad at my family for this, but also know i may not have as much appreciation for life had I not been facing death. I just try to live with huge gratitude and accept every moment I have as a huge gift as I hurry to try to get everything done I desire. I also know one thing about myselves, and that is that we overcome. So maybe I’ll get better?
I am so very sorry to hear about all of your health issues. My sincere best wishes and compassionate understanding and care go out to you. I do hope that you find some strength and caring here with the DD community. We are here for you.
You bring up a good point about illnesses and abuse. My husband is being treated for PTSD. He has leukemia and a series of other health issues that have come since his trauma. My husband was tested and diagnosed by a psychiatrist who is a world leader in the area of epigenetics. The doctor feels that my husband’s illnesses are the direct result of trauma. In other words, that trauma can have a direct and lasting impact on the genetic transmitters in one’s body.
Now, my hope is that, anything that the brain can do that initiates illness can also be used to fix things – well, at least stop at the damage that has already been done. I am not talking cure here although I have been to seminars with cancer patients who have been “cured” through the power of mediation, visualizations and life-style changes.
Not saying that it is the case for you but you do seem to have a very wonderfully positive perspective on living life to the fullest. Such a powerful message for us all to hear. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
I have been “lucky” enough that the parents paid for two years of therapy, then partially for two more years after that. They are supposedly the abuses, so there’s that. It makes us wonder if they were really involved, because why would they pay for healing when they caused so much of the abuse? Anyway, I am on disability, have to work part time, though I am going to school 2 classes at a time. (I have pretty good internal help.) Because I’m on disability, I don’t have to pay for my health care, but I do pay for my psychiatric care. I’m fortunate, but I have to live with the parentsbecause I can’t afford to live somewhere else. I’m 37 and don’t have a degree, place of my own, and my car is 15 years old. I know material things don’t matter, but it’s evidence to me that I’m unable to function as a contributing adult in society because of what happened to me. I have type 2 diabetes, and am severely overweight. I deal with major depression and anxiety everyday, not to mention the dissociation part when things aren’t going well. Triggers, flashbacks, you all know the drill. I’m grateful I am alive, but when I sit back and look at my life, I can definitely see the effects of abuse. And I feel like I’m a “mild” case, too. People suffer so much more than me, I think. So, there is hope, but it’s sad at the same time.
What’s it Matter says
I have only one thought on this, Our host father walks around and ask like nothing happened He even talk about how wrong it is for s x crimes. Our host Mother also. When she was alive would say how those people should be be locked up and how awful it is for a parent natural protect their child . She acted and he still does act like her host has never been removed from their home. So my words are denial is huge not only is the host but also the host parents. Does our host have contact with her father. oh she dies. So We will continue to have things topsy-turvy until our host can except what has happen so we can all be in the now and not stuck in a none caring environment.
Keith Smith says
My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet suburbs of Lincoln, Rhode Island.
I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. He was arrested and indicted but never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 34 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.
In the time between the night of my assault and the night he was murdered, I lived in fear. I was afraid he was still around town. Afraid he was looking for me. Afraid he would track me down and kill me. The fear didn’t go away when he was murdered. Although he was no longer a threat, the simple life and innocence of a 14-year-old boy was gone forever. Carefree childhood thoughts replaced with the unrelenting realization that my world wasn’t a safe place. My peace shattered by a horrific criminal act of sexual violence.
Over the past 34 years, I’ve been haunted by horrible, recurring memories of what he did to me. He visits me in my sleep. There have been dreams–nightmares actually–dozens of them, sweat inducing, yelling-in-my-sleep nightmares filled with images and emotions as real as they were when it actually happened. It doesn’t get easier over time. Long dead, he still visits me, silently sneaking up from out of nowhere when I least expect it. From the grave, he sits by my side on the couch every time the evening news reports a child abduction or sex crime. I don’t watch America’s Most Wanted or Law and Order SVU, because the stories are a catalyst, triggering long suppressed emotions, feelings, memories, fear and horror. Real life horror stories rip painful suppressed memories out from where they hide, from that recessed place in my brain that stores dark, dangerous, horrible memories. It happened when William Bonin confessed to abducting, raping and murdering 14 boys in California; when Jesse Timmendequas raped and murdered Megan Kanka in New Jersey; when Ben Ownby, missing for four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, missing for four years, were recovered in Missouri.
Despite what happened that night and the constant reminders that continue to haunt me years later, I wouldn’t change what happened. The animal that attacked me was a serial predator, a violent pedophile trolling my neighborhood in Lincoln, Rhode Island looking for young boys. He beat me, raped me, and I stayed alive. I lived to see him arrested, indicted and murdered. It might not have turned out this way if he had grabbed one of my friends or another kid from my neighborhood. Perhaps he’d still be alive. Perhaps there would be dozens of more victims and perhaps he would have progressed to the point of silencing his victims by murdering them.
Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, not sharing with anyone the story of what happened to me. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.
My novel, Men in My Town, was inspired by these actual events. Men in My Town is available now at http://www.Amazon.com
For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope.
For additional information, please visit the Men in My Town blog at http://www.meninmytown.wordpress.com
Its a pretty sad world when I have to choose between T work, medications, bills, or school tuition. Its like, ok, which part of my life am I going to let go this week?
But then, I hate the entire medical system in the US, not just for survivors. I believe my father would be alive today if it weren’t for the way the system is structured. Not to mention that if he or my grandfather had had access to psychological help I might never have been abused.
I can’t think too much about it. I feel so hopeless right now about it all that it just makes me want to give up and cry.
We’ve had medical problems since we were in our teens, colitis, migraines and extreme pain and menstrual problems and later 3 miscarriage and fibromyalgia and then there’s the psych issues!!! Our needs caused our own children to have less advantages growing up because my medical/psych bills sucked our budget dry and got us in debt for so many years before we found out we are DID. I was 29 before anyone ever told me I was abused and my jaw dropped literally. We were 38 when we got the dx of DID which we fought for about 5 years before we began to be able to accept it. We became a prescription drug addict trying to self medicate the emotional pain. Thankfully we only had 3 short psych hospital stays. All those stays did was slap a few bandaids over deep wounds. Even before I found I was DID I saw that the hospital just stablized, got us moving again and declared us all better…as soon as my insurance ran out.
We left college just before our senior year (paid for by us only, no help from those wonderful folks who started our life off so well). I left with a 3.45 gpa because I couldn’t decide on a major and was afraid to take math – ain’t that a kick in the head. I had good brains and no idea what to do with them. ARGH!!!
Marriage and kids overwhelmed our limited resources and we’ve been struggling ever since. The only reason I am still alive is because our T has treated us for 14 years for approx 5 dollars an hour – literally.
Forgive me if this is long and dreary, but what you wrote is exactly what I’ve lived. I am 55 years old and I still wonder what I will be when I grow up. I hope I won’t grow up and/get healed just in time to get alzheimers or die. I/we’ve worked so hard to just stay here on the planet and NOT doom our children like we were doomed.
This week in T time I discovered I made a deep vow as a small child – “to not be like them”. I’ve spent 55 years living an “anti-life”. I never BECAME anything because it took all my life’s energy to NOT BE LIKE THEM. So, forever I’ve heard people say “You have soooo much potential” “you are so articulate”. I’ve written no books, held no career except the worthwhile career of mother to my two kids. And my spouse believes I am a self-indulgent neurotic who isn’t willing to “just get over it”.(it being RA, physical, sexual and emotional and spiritual abuse from at least 12 perpetrators)
It is only in recent years I’ve finally begun to stop blaming myself for everything. I’ve strayed from the basic point because I have a lot of pain and anger over the issue of our non-life. My parents took me to doctors and I was told over and over “there’s nothing wrong with you…it’s all in your head”. Ironically enough they were right but inaccurate. The trauma we experienced was so extreme that my mind caused my endocrine system to pump tons of stress chemicals throughout my system until my body began breaking down in my mid-teens. At age 55 I am unemployed, need two new knees and consume 10 or more medications(not all psych =)! per day. My life has been all survival and almost nothing beyond that except what I could manage to give to my children, my marriage has been less a huge disappointment to us both. I stay in my marriage more from duty and fear of homelessness than love and that makes me feel bad about myself – I don’t like to “use” anyone (that is what those who abused me did to me)
While I may be unique as a human, my story is extremely common to those with DD problems. We are SO sick of being judged and misjudged. No one will ever know how deeply I wish I could have done more good with my life and gone beyond subsistence to achievement.
But, I’m not dead yet. Grandma Moses became a painter in her late 60’s and I will never stop seeking wellness because I know healing is possible if I/we just don’t quit.
Sorry for being verbose, but I really needed to say all of this for all of me.
Leslie and her Pixies
Yes, it’s worth most of what we’ve spent, it’s meant not abusing our kids.
We’ve always had psychiatric problems that were a part of the DID but weren’t Dx’ed till we were 30 and even then we still didn’t find a ‘good’ talk-doc for almost another decade. Then we moved to a new state and for almost 2 decades we had no mental health support. Every mental health professional we saw wanted us to make the DID invisible so we did, we dissociated our DID (nice trick eh) and stopped looking.
Now tho we’re over 50 and back trying to get a grip on the whole thing. We finally found a talk-doc willing to deal with the RA history, actually she was the only one on the insurance list who would. Then the insurance’s subcontractor for mental health refused to pay. We had to take them to arbitration, we won but they still refused, more arbitration. We now get weekly 45 minute sessions covered. Anything more and we pay out of pocket. There’s still a need for more then weekly.
What is really a bite in the behind is that we’re having all these physical problems that are probably caused by the abuse, but who will listen now? When I asked our neurologist if the ECT and shock we had as a child could be causing our problems. His answer was, “There is no protocol for ECT on children. I’ve never heard of such a thing.” End of story.
Meanwhile there’s no one to sue, the parents were poor, the other abusers were very secret, and most of these abusers are dead.
We’ve spent a small fortune in medical and mental health bills.
We probably would have been a more productive adult without all this.
There’s just so many ‘what-if’s.’
Mostly, it’s the guilt of having to use that money for ourselves when we could have saved it and been able to afford to pay for college for our kids.
Ya, in Canada, medical will pay for Psychiatrist only.
Never mind my psychologist is also PHD.
I am fortunate, for now, I have coverage and covers about 1/2 of T costs.
But I want my child to see a T, and that will be out of pocket because I will have used up all the psychologist medical expense on my plan.
See, unfortunately, our children get caught in the mess too, because of my parenting. My T says I have done very well, and my kids seem ok, and thats very good, considering….:(
I think its REALLY stupid that there is no coverage when people are disabled mentally, unless its really overt.
I function Ok mostly, but it HAS affected my kids.
And its just hard 🙁
Cuz you just can’t go around saying you got a DD.
I dunno that I was abused.
I just know I got DD.
Though, I deny that too sometimes.
Ya so its not fair. I feel bad we can’t take vacations like my kids friends do.
Cuz I spend it on me.
I feel real bad bout that.
Bout alotta things.
But I got lotsa blessings too.
I lucky I got good T.
For now anyhow.
Its not cheap for sure. When my plan runs out, I can no longer justify the expense.
Blessings to alla you out there who struggle w/ this prob and expense.
This is something not well enough understood by the medical profession, I think, who seem to be quick to put a label of “psychosomatic illness” on what is, more correctly, bodily-expressed emotional and psychological trauma.
Having had very real and untreatable severe chronic pain since the age of twelve, which can be managed only with high doses of NSAIDs, kidney and liver failure, and/or stomach perforations are an inevitable reality for me. If I’d been correctly diagnosed and treated for DID twenty years ago when I started accurately describing my inner world to therapists, I might have bought a little more time. The physical results of trauma are correcting themselves in infinitesimal increments as therapy progresses, but it may still be too late. It’s frightening to know that I am doing all I can, and it may be too late.
Also, right now i am young, i am on disability so i don’t have to pay for this, but once before i got disability i had no insurance for like 2 months. I spent over two thousand dollars on medication and therapy. i was afraid i would have to quit and when i couldn’t afford my medicine i had to go off it and that caused a lot of withdrawal symptoms and i couldn’t work or go to school. If i didn’t have disability right now and medical assistance i would be SOL, and it would be really bad. I would not be getting better and i would not have over 4 months of no self injury under my belt. Everyday is a struggle, everyday is a fight, and i am not sure if i am worth it, but i hope one day it will be worth while..
Could you explain a bit more how abuse affects the brain? I often suspect that i have a learning disability or a neurological problem of sorts. I have a hard time speaking, i stutter, i had seizures when i was a child, and i have severe migraines now. I also think i have a sensory problem…
I’m lucky in that in New Zealand any “accident” is covered by the no-fault, government run Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). Because sexual abuse is considered an “accident” in that there was mental injury done to the victim due to a criminal act, I am entitled to subsidised therapy, psychiatric care, medicine etc. The only catch is that you have to tell a therapist that you are making a “Sensitive Claim” in order to start the process. The process can be re-victimising – a government department has the ability to approve or decline my entitlement at any stage and they regularly request psychiatric assessments to ensure that we are still entitled to be covered by the scheme. I know that they have paid for in-patient care for over two years at a cost of well over $2000/week for another ACC client. So the scheme is very generous in many ways and there is no way that I would be able to attend therapy without it. Saying that, we also have a fairly useless mental health service which would offer assistance if I didn’t come under ACC which is totally free through tax-payer contributions. The advantage of the ACC scheme is that it gives more of a voice to the client and can often mean that you can get access to better care and options.
I know things that I, and others, have done to this body have significantly altered my lifespan, cognition and general health. Every aspect of my life has been negatively impacted by the abuse. But I also know that I am one of the lucky ones…