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Violating children’s rights: The psychological impact of sexual abuse in childhood

Professor Jill Astbury MAPS, College of Arts, Victoria University

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All forms of child sexual abuse (CSA) are a profound violation of the human rights of children. CSA is a crime under Australian law and an extreme transgression of trust, duty of care and power by perpetrators. The rights violations that define CSA are critically connected to the deleterious behavioural and psychological health consequences that ensue. This article examines the long-term effects of CSA on mental health and the determinants of these outcomes, in order to identify opportunities to ameliorate the profound psychological impacts of CSA on the lives of many victims/survivors. The article is based on a literature review commissioned to inform the APS response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which was established in 2013 by the Gillard Government.

Prevalence of child sexual abuse

Rates of CSA are difficult to gauge accurately given the clandestine, sensitive and criminal nature of the sexual abuse to which children are exposed. Perpetrators of CSA are often close to the victim, such as fathers, uncles, teachers, caregivers and other trusted members of the community (Finkelhor, Hammer & Sedlak, 2008). CSA often goes undisclosed and unreported to professionals or adults for many complex reasons, including fear of punishment and retaliation by the perpetrator, as well as the stigma and shame associated with this type of abuse (Priebe & Svedin, 2008).

A global meta-analysis of child sexual abuse prevalence figures found self-reported CSA ranged from 164-197 in every 1,000 girls and 66-88 per 1,000 boys (Stoltenborgh, van Ijzendoorn, Euser, & Bakermans-Kranenburg, 2011). In Australia, Fleming (1997) used a community sample of 710 women randomly selected from the Australian electoral roll and found that 20 per cent of the sample reported experiencing CSA involving contact. Another national survey involving both men and women (Najman, Dunne, Purdie, Boyle, & Coxeter, 2005) reported a higher prevalence of CSA, with more than one third of women and approximately one sixth of men reporting a history of CSA. A more recent study in Victoria (Moore et al., 2010) reported a prevalence rate of 17 per cent for any type of CSA for girls and seven per cent for boys when they took part in the study during adolescence. Both Australian studies involving community samples of women or girls and men or boys indicate that girls are two or more times more likely to experience CSA than boys.

Long-term mental health consequences

A significant body of research has demonstrated that the experience of CSA can exert long-lasting effects on brain development, psychological and social functioning, self-esteem, mental health, personality, sleep, health risk behaviours including substance use, self-harm and life expectancy. CSA often co-occurs with physical and emotional abuse and other negative and stressful childhood experiences that independently predict poor mental and physical health outcomes in adult life.

Nevertheless, the research literature indicates that when other predictors of poor adult mental health are statistically controlled, CSA remains a powerful determinant of psychological disorder in adult life (Kendler et al., 2000). Strong evidence from twin studies indicates that a causal relationship exists between CSA and subsequent mental disorders. Twin studies necessarily control for genetic and family environment factors and a number since 2000 have documented significant associations between CSA, depression, panic disorder, alcohol abuse/dependence, drug abuse/dependence, suicide attempts and completed suicides.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published between 1980 and 2008 (Chen et al., 2010) found that a history of sexual abuse including child sexual abuse was related to significantly increased odds of a lifetime diagnosis of several different psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders and suicide. A particularly strong link between CSA and subsequent PTSD has been found.

Although the diagnosis of PTSD may be appropriate for those who have been exposed to relatively circumscribed CSA, Herman (1992) argued more than two decades ago that this diagnosis does not adequately capture the psychological responses of people who are repeatedly traumatised over a long period of time, experience subsequent re-victimisation in adolescence or adult life and typically display multiple symptoms of psychological distress and high levels of psychiatric co-morbidity. For survivors of this kind of CSA, Herman (1992) proposed the expanded diagnostic concept of complex PTSD on the grounds that it was better able to accurately capture the complex psychological sequelae of prolonged, repeated trauma.

Risk of suicide: Australian research

Survivors of CSA face a significantly increased risk of suicide and a higher prevalence of suicide attempts and ideation. An Australian follow-up study (Plunkett et al., 2001) of young people who had experienced CSA compared with those who had not, reported that those with a CSA history had a suicide rate 10.7-13.0 times the national rate. Furthermore, 32 per cent of those sexually abused as children had attempted suicide and 43 per cent had thought about suicide. None of the non-abused participants had completed suicide.

A more recent Australian study confirms and extends this finding. Cutajar and colleagues (2010) conducted a cohort study of 2,759 victims of CSA by linking forensic records from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine between 1964 and 1995 to coronial records up to 44 years later. They found that female sexual abuse victims had 40 times higher risk of suicide and 88 times higher risk of fatal overdose than the rates in the general population. Interestingly these rates were even higher than those for males, in contrast to the usual gender pattern for suicide. The respective rates for males were 14 times and 38 times higher than those in the general population.

Determinants of long-term mental health outcomes

While victims/survivors of CSA face greatly increased risks of poor mental health in adult life, a significant minority do not go on to develop psychological disorders (Saunders, Kilpatrick, Hanson, Resnick, & Walker, 1999). Broadly, two approaches to explaining this finding have informed research: differences in the nature of the abuse that has taken place; and post-abuse factors that positively mediate or intervene in the development of negative long-term mental health outcomes.

Nature of the sexual abuse

The likelihood of experiencing severe, negative mental health outcomes in adult life as the result of CSA is increased by several abuse-specific characteristics. Large scale epidemiological studies have consistently documented that forced penetrative sex, multiple perpetrators, abuse by a relative, and a long duration of CSA (e.g., more than a year) predict more severe psychiatric disturbance and a higher likelihood of being an in-patient in a psychiatric facility in adult life.

More than 20 years ago, Pribor and Dinwiddie (1992) investigated different types of CSA of increasing severity and found that incest victims had a significantly increased lifetime prevalence rate for seven psychological disorders including agoraphobia, alcohol abuse or dependence, depression, panic disorder, PTSD, simple phobia and social phobia. Bulik, Prescott and Kendler (2001) also confirmed that a higher risk for the development of psychiatric and substance use disorders was associated with certain characteristics of the abuse, including attempted or completed intercourse, the use of force or threats and abuse by a relative. More severe and chronic abuse which starts at an early age has also been reported to increase the risk of developing symptoms of dissociation.

Post-abuse mediating factors

Certain factors, both negative and positive, are likely to intervene after CSA has taken place and to mediate adult mental health outcomes.

  • Coping strategies
    Specific coping strategies used by survivors can positively or negatively predict long-term psychological outcomes. Overall, positive, constructive coping strategies such as expressing feelings and making efforts to improve the situation are associated with better adjustment (Runtz & Schallow, 1997; Tremblay, Hebert, & Piche, 1999), and negative coping strategies, including engaging in self-destructive or avoidant behaviours, with worse adjustment (Merrill, Thomsen, Sinclair, Gold, & Miller, 2001). However, the coping strategies used by survivors are contingent to some degree on the availability of social or material resources over which children have little or no control.

    In addition, the number of negative or maladaptive coping strategies used is predictive of the likelihood of sexual re-victimisation in adulthood (Filipas & Ullman, 2006). This strongly indicates that the link between CSA, negative coping strategies and adverse adult psychological outcomes is strengthened by sexual re-victimisation. Several studies have confirmed this relationship.
  • Re-victimisation
    CSA is associated with an increased risk of subsequent violent victimisation including intimate partner violence and sexual violence in adolescence and adulthood (see, for example, Classen, Palesh, & Aggarwal, 2005). Sexual re-victimisation involving rape or other types of sexual abuse/assault poses a potent risk for worse psychological health in adult life. A number of studies have confirmed that women who are sexually re-victimised compared with their non-revictimised counterparts have more severe symptoms of psychological distress in adulthood.
  • Social support and reaction to disclosure
    Historically, the role of social support and other societal and cultural factors in determining survivors’ responses to CSA has been under-explored in comparison with the heavy focus on the survivor’s role in responding to sexual trauma. Increased interest in the contribution of social support and other sociocultural factors has prompted increased investigation into the social contextual factors that can mediate adult outcomes following childhood violence, many of which are associated with the reactions to disclosure.

Delay in the disclosure of CSA is linked inevitably with other delays, all of which are harmful to the child. These include delay in putting in place adequate means to protect the child from further victimisation, delay in the child receiving meaningful assistance including necessary psychological and physical health care, and delay in redress and justice for the victim. Without disclosure, negative health outcomes are more likely to proliferate and compound. Conversely, disclosure within one month of sexual assault occurring is associated with a significantly lower risk of subsequent psychosocial difficulties in adult life including lower rates of PTSD and major depressive episodes (Ruggiero et al., 2004).

Yet experiences of disclosure are not uniform and whether they are positive or negative depends on the reactions of the person to whom the CSA is disclosed. Unfortunately, negative reactions to disclosure are common, constitute secondary traumatisation and are associated with poorer adult psychological outcomes (Ullman, 2007). Such reactions include not being believed, being blamed and judged, or punished and not supported, all of which can compound the impact of the original abuse and further increase the risk of psychological distress including increased symptoms of PTSD, particularly when the perpetrator is a relative.

Specific characteristics of disclosure appear to be protective against the development of psychiatric disorders. This finding highlights the importance of social support in concert with effective action by the person in whom the child confides. The degree to which someone is affected is likely to reflect various indicators of the severity of the abuse as well as countervailing protective factors such as the strength of family relationships and the survivor’s self-esteem. One such factor is a warm and supportive relationship with a non-offending parent, which is strongly associated with resilience following CSA and lower levels of abuse-related stress.

Implications for psychological training and practice

The research outlined above shows conclusively that CSA is associated with multiple adverse psychological outcomes, although such outcomes are not inevitable. The identified mediating or intervening factors that increase or decrease the risk of developing psychological disorders as a result of CSA have important implications for psychological training and for the practising psychologists who work with survivors of CSA.

Training on CSA

It is a matter of grave concern that the issue of CSA has been neglected in psychology training. When psychologists lack appropriate knowledge and skills to work with survivors they put both their clients and themselves at risk and can cause unintended harm. Training on CSA is urgently needed in psychology programs to disseminate evidence to students on the protean psychological consequences of CSA as well as the skills necessary to carry out the demanding mental and emotional work of treating survivors. Survivors can have chronic, complex problems in many areas of functioning and psychological disorders can overlap with physical health problems, including pain syndromes and high risk health behaviours such as alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Careful long-term psychological care is often necessary. As survivors may seek help from a range of psychologists, it is important that all psychologists are educated about the magnitude and psychological consequences of CSA.

Apart from acquiring more in-depth knowledge of the emotional effects of CSA and experience in trauma-related interventions, postgraduate courses should prepare practitioners for how exposure to their clients’ traumatic material can traumatise them as well. To remain psychologically healthy while working with survivors of CSA, psychologists need to be able to recognise symptoms of secondary traumatic stress and develop self-care strategies and support systems that will help them to manage the stress related to working with CSA survivors.

Most practising psychologists today who work with survivors have acquired their knowledge and skills ‘on the job’ post-graduation or as a result of their own initiative by attending workshops delivered by specialists in the field. An unknown number of registered psychologists may have no training on CSA and a more systematic continuing education program should be available and accessible so that all psychologists are equipped, at the very least, to ‘do no harm’ to the clients who have experienced CSA.

Implications for psychological practice

Knowing how to facilitate disclosure and take a comprehensive trauma history is an essential first step in developing a treatment plan for survivors of CSA. How a psychologist responds to a client’s disclosure will have an enormous impact on whether a survivor continues or abruptly terminates treatment. Any hint of disbelief, blame or judgment is likely to fracture the client’s fragile hope that she or he will be believed and that it is safe to undertake the painful task of working through the original abuse and its aftermath. If the response to a disclosure is negative it may be years before a survivor is willing to try again, and in the meantime the psychological burden of the abuse and its effects can proliferate. The effort to remain silent and keep the abuse hidden is extremely isolating and cuts off access to potential avenues of psychosocial support.

It would be a mistake for psychologists to assume, for example, that knowing about prolonged exposure therapy for the treatment of PTSD, would, by itself, be sufficient to offer effective treatment to survivors. Beyond the symptoms of traumatic stress associated with CSA, survivors often struggle with many other pressing concerns. These often relate to the deep betrayal of trust by the adult/s with a duty of care towards them as children. This betrayal can prompt persistent negative self-perceptions, difficulties in trusting others and their own judgement, and abiding feelings of shame and intrinsic ‘unloveability’ that contribute to insecure, unsatisfying relationships in adult life. These same issues can impinge on the client-psychologist interaction, making it challenging to establish a robust therapeutic alliance or maintain appropriate boundaries.

CSA does not result in a single disorder such as depression, treatable within the 10 sessions supported under the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative. The chronicity and complexity of the disorders stemming from CSA require much longer term mental health care. The current system under Medicare is very poorly suited to meeting the mental health care needs of perhaps the most numerous and psychologically vulnerable group in society – CSA survivors.

Conclusion

The Royal Commission has provided a timely opportunity to closely examine the enduring, deleterious and multi-faceted impacts of CSA on survivors, how institutions in which abuse took place failed to intervene and the kind of assistance survivors believe will be most helpful in healing from their traumatic experiences. Psychology has much to contribute to this process and to ensure that the best available psychological evidence is put forward to address the profoundly disturbing phenomenon of child sexual abuse.

Clergy-perpetrated child sexual abuseIn contrast with the large evidence base amassed since the 1980s on the prevalence and health consequences of CSA occurring in the general community, minimal research was published before 2000 on CSA perpetrated by clergy or others working for institutions or organisations, and evidence remains limited in scope.There is an additional theological and spiritual dimension to clergy-perpetrated abuse that sets it apart other forms of CSA, including a spiritual and religious crisis during and after the abuse (Farrell & Taylor, 2000). CSA perpetrated by priests and other members of the clergy has been described as “a unique betrayal” (Guido, 2008) and the “ultimate deception” (Cook, 2005), and the implications of such abuse for victims are eloquently described by McMackin, Keane and Kline (2008):The sexual exploitation of a child by one who has been privileged, even anointed, as a representative of God is a sinister assault on that person’s psychosocial and spiritual well-being. The impact of such a violent betrayal is amplified when the perpetrator is sheltered and supported by a larger religious community. (p.198)Psychological consequences of clergy-perpetrated child sexual abuseClergy-perpetrated sexual abuse of children can catastrophically alter the trajectory of victims’ psychosocial, sexual and spiritual development (Fogler et al., 2008). In the US, investigation into the Catholic Church by the John Jay Research Team repeatedly identified certain psychological effects of clergy CSA in the personal testimony of survivors and family members. These included major symptoms of PTSD with co-occurring substance abuse, affective lability, relational conflicts, and a profound alteration in individual spirituality and religious practices associated with a deep sense of betrayal by the individual perpetrator and the church more broadly (John Jay College, 2004, 2006; McMackin et al., 2008).Some of these negative psychological outcomes are shared with survivors of CSA in the general population but those related to spirituality, religious practices and a sense of betrayal by the church alter the nature of the harm caused by clergy-perpetrated CSA. While a diagnosis of PTSD may be useful as a starting point in understanding and treating survivors of clergy CSA, Farrell and Taylor (2000) contend that “there are qualitative differences in [clergy-perpetrated CSA] symptomatology, which the PTSD diagnosis cannot explain” (p. 28). Such symptoms include self-blame, guilt, psychosexual disturbances, self-destructive behaviours, substance abuse, and re-victimisation. These symptoms are argued to emanate from the theological, spiritual and existential features of clergy CSA. For these reasons, Farrell and Taylor (2000) suggest that a diagnosis of complex PTSD (Herman, 1992) offers a better fit for the symptoms reported by survivors of clergy-perpetrated CSA.Preventing clergy-perpetrated child sexual abuseThe history of denial, cover up and delays in response to disclosures of clergy CSA by churches has been well documented, with their responses to perpetrators evidencing a failure to implement any effective preventative measures. To stop institutional CSA from occurring, it is critical to understand the situational indicators of such abuse so that the opportunities they afford to perpetrators to commit the crime of CSA can be identified.Parkinson and colleagues (2009) identified that having immediate and convenient access to minors were the defining characteristics that facilitated abuse. The evidence also suggests the need for parents and their children to be made much more aware of the grooming tactics used by clergy who perpetrate CSA. The John Jay College study (2006) identified the strategies that allowed the perpetrators to become close to the child they subsequently abused including being friendly with the victims’ families, giving gifts or other enticements such as taking them to sporting events or letting them drive cars, and spending a lot of time with victims.A recurrent theme in Australian victims’ accounts is how their parents’ religious beliefs and trust and reverence for members of the clergy meant that they could not conceive of the possibility that priests could sexually abuse their children and betray their own vows. Yet there is ample evidence that this trust was sadly misplaced and the same caution that would be applied to other members of society needs to be applied to the clergy.Finally, in tandem with a message from churches that there is zero tolerance for CSA, there needs to be a clear and trustworthy process in place, independent of the churches, that encourages children to disclose CSA safely and confidentially. Educational programs in all schools beginning in primary school might be one way of achieving this.Victims of clergy-perpetrated CSA need to be heard with respect and compassion, given meaningful assistance to meet their psychosocial needs, and provided with justice through those who perpetrated the abuse and those who covered it up being held fully accountable. Only then will it be possible for recovery from the immense trauma of clergy CSA and the rebuilding of shattered lives to truly begin.

The author can be contacted at Jill.Astbury@vu.edu.au

References

  • Parkinson, P., Oates, K. & Jayakody, A. (2009). Study of reported child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church. Submission to the Victorian Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations.
  • Plunkett, A., O’Toole B., Swanston, H., Oates, R. K., Shrimpton, S. & Parkinson, P. (2001). Suicide risk following child sexual abuse. Ambulatory Paediatrics, 1 (5), 262-266.
  • Pribor, E. F. & Dinwiddie, S. H. (1992). Psychiatric correlates of incest in childhood. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 52-56.
  • Priebe, G. & Svedin, C. G. (2008). Child sexual abuse is largely hidden from the adult society: An epidemiological study of adolescents’ disclosures. Child Abuse and Neglect32(12), 1095-108.
  • Ruggiero, K. J., Smith, D. W., Hanson, A., Resnick, H. S., Saunders, B. E., Kilpatrick, D. G., Best, C. L. (2004). Is disclosure of childhood rape associated with mental health outcome? Results from the National Women’s Study. Child Maltreatment9, 62-77.
  • Runtz, M. G. & Schallow, J. R. (1997). Social support and coping strategies as mediators of adult adjustment following childhood maltreatment. Child Abuse and Neglect, 21(2), 211-226.
  • Saunders, B. E., Kilpatrick, D. G., Hanson, R. F., Resnick, H. S., & Walker, M. E. (1999). Prevalence, case characteristics, and long-term psychological correlates of child rape among women: A national survey. Child Maltreatment, 4,187-200.
  • Stoltenborgh, M., van Ijzendoorn, M.H., Euser, E. M. & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2011). A Global Perspective on child sexual abuse: Meta-Analysis of prevalence around the world. Child Maltreatment16(2), 79-101.
  • Tremblay, C., Hebert, M. & Piche, C. (1999). Coping strategies and social support as mediators of consequences in child sexual abuse victims. Child Abuse and Neglect, 23, 929–945.
  • Ullman, S. E. (2007). Relationship to perpetrator, disclosure, social reactions, and PTSD symptoms in child sexual abuse survivors. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 16(1), 19-36.
  • Bulik, C. M., Prescott, C. A., & Kendler, K. S. (2001). Features of childhood sexual abuse and the development of psychiatric and substance use disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry179, 444-449.
  • Chen, L. P., Murad, M. H., Paras, M. L., Colberson, K. M., Sattler, A. L., et al. (2010). Sexual abuse and lifetime diagnosis of psychiatric disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 85(7), 618-629.
  • Classen, C. C., Palesh, O. G. & Aggarwal, R. (2005). Sexual revictimization: A review of the empirical literature. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 6(2), 102–129.
  • Cook, L. J. (2005). The ultimate deception: Childhood sexual abuse in the church. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. 43(10), 18-24.
  • Cutajar, M. C., Mullen, P. E., Ogloff, J. R. P., Thomas, S. D., Wells, D. L. & Spataro, J. (2010b). Suicide and fatal drug overdose in child sexual abuse victims: A historical cohort study. Medical Journal of Australia, 192(4), 184–187.
  • Farrell, D. P. & Taylor, M. (2000). Silenced by God: An examination of unique characteristics within sexual abuse by the clergy. Counselling Psychology Review, 15, 22-31.
  • Filipas, H. H. & Ullman, S. E. (2006). Child sexual abuse, coping responses, self-blame, PTSD, and adult sexual revictimization. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21, 652-672.
  • Finkelhor, D., Hammer, H. & Sedlak, A. J. (2008). Sexually Assaulted Children: National Estimates and Characteristics. National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART–2) Bulletin. US: Department of Justice.
  • Fleming, J. (1997). Prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in a community sample of Australian women. Medical Journal of Australia, 166, 65-68.
  • Fogler, J. M., Shipherd, J.C., Clarke, S., Jensen, J. & Rowe, E. (2008). The impact of clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse: the role of gender, development and posttraumatic stress. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 17(3-4), 329-358.
  • Guido, J. (2008). A unique betrayal: Clergy sexual abuse in the context of the Catholic religious tradition. Journal of Child Sexual abuse, 17(3-4), 255-269.
  • Herman, J. L. (1992). Complex PTSD: A syndrome in survivors of prolonged and repeated trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 5 (3), 377-391.
  • John Jay College. (2004). The nature and scope of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests and deacons in the United States, 1950-2000. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • John Jay College. (2006). The nature and scope of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests and deacons in the United States- supplementary data analysis. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • Kendler, K. S., Bulik, C. M., Silberg, J., Hettema, J. M., Myers, J. & Prescott, C.A. (2000) Childhood sexual abuse and adult psychiatric and substance use disorders: An epidemiological and co twin control analysis. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 953 -959.
  • McMackin, R.A., Keane, T. M. & Kline, P.M. (2008). Introduction to special issue on betrayal and recovery: Understanding the trauma of child sexual abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 17(3-4), 197-200.
  • Merrill, L. L., Thomsen, C. J., Sinclair, B. B., Gold, S. R. & Milner, J. S. (2001). Predicting the impact of child sexual abuse on women: The role of abuse severity, parental support and coping strategies. Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology, 69(6), 992-1006.
  • Moore, E. E., Romaniuk, H., Olsson, C. A., Jayasinghe, Y., Carlin, J. B. & Patton, G. C. (2010). The prevalence of childhood sexual abuse and adolescent unwanted sexual contact among boys and girls living in Victoria, Australia. Child Abuse and Neglect, 34 (5), 379-385.
  • Najman, J. M., Dunne, M. P., Purdie, D. M., Boyle, F. M. & Coxeter, P. D. (2005). Sexual abuse in childhood and sexual dysfunction in adulthood: An Australian population based study. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 34, 517-526.

Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on October 2013. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.OCTOBER 2013 | ISSUE INDEXThe sexual abuse of children


RETRIEVED https://www.psychology.org.au/inpsych/2013/october/astbury/

10 Habits Of Manipulative People

NOTE following a recent reposting of our recent MindControl article, there have been some interested views from our sister-site (SDBC_RC). Below is a snapshot, with details of the 10 Habits following.

Clip from Sound familiar ..,

Matt Duczeminski A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

It can be hard to detect whether someone is manipulative upon first meeting them. Unfortunately, their selfish nature often goes unnoticed until you’ve become too involved in their lives to simply cut and run. Once they’ve gotten close to you, these Machiavellian schemers will do anything it takes to keep you around, all for the sake of using you in one way or another. Perhaps the worst part of being stuck in a manipulative friendship is it makes you doubt the genuineness of others, which can mean constantly second-guessing other relationships.

If you have a “friend” who exhibits the following traits, you should try to cut them out of your life as soon as possible.

1. They play innocent

Manipulators have a way of playing around with the truth to portray themselves as the victim. I once had a “friend” who would regularly make me feel bad for not spotting him five bucks to buy a pack of cigarettes—even though I detest smoking. Looking back on those days, I realize I was being used. He made me feel like a bad friend for not lending him money to support a disgusting habit, when in actuality he was the bad friend for even asking for the money in the first place.

2. They play dumb

Manipulative people will drain the energy of everyone around them by looking to their friends for help, only to go ahead and do whatever they want anyway. When their friends call them out on it, they’ll be ready with excuse after excuse. “It’s my life, I’ll do what I want,” or “Let me make my own mistakes.” That’s totally fine if that’s how they choose to live, but they shouldn’t solicit advice if they don’t want to hear the truth. It’s a waste of the other person’s time and energy, and can damage their confidence in the value of the advice they give.

3. They rationalize their behavior

Along with not taking their friends’ advice, manipulative people make their negative behavior seem like the only option. They make it seem to you that they made the right decision, even though you know better from an objective point of view. They often seek to “win” arguments, rather than coming to a consensus with the other party. The implication here is that they weren’t truly listening to what you had to say at all. They were just waiting for you to finish so they could offer a rebuttal, regardless of how sound your advice was.

4. They change the subject often

Since manipulative people only really care about themselves, they ultimately will steer conversation toward their own needs any chance they get. They’ll do this especially when they know they’re wrong about something but don’t want to admit it. So, instead of validating the other person’s opinion, they’ll just change the subject to something innocuous or otherwise unrelated to the previous topic. This helps them avoid the truth in a roundabout way that’s fairly unnoticeable to others.

5. They tell half-truths

Manipulative people tend to mold the truth to their advantage. They’ll often hide information that they know will expose them as liars, acting as if this is somehow better than telling a straight-out lie. Manipulators approach all interactions as if they’re in a court of law, where what they say can be used against them. By acting in this way, they can honestly say “I never said that.” Yes, you technically never did say that, but the way you skirted the truth wasn’t exactly right.

6. They induce guilt

Along with claiming innocence, manipulative people also make others feel guilty. There may be times in relationships where you’ll find you simply don’t have the time or energy to deal with certain situations, and the manipulative person will make you feel like you’re “not there for him.” They may even get you to put your own well-being on the back-burner so they’ll have somebody to complain to and seek advice from (advice which they may not heed, anyway).

7. They insult others

Manipulators are rude and abrasive by nature. All true friends can feel comfortable messing with each other by poking fun innocuously, but manipulative people go way overboard with the jabs and insults. They do this in social situations to inconspicuously undermine others and establish a sense of dominance. Manipulators never got over that high-school mentality, where it was “cool” to make fun of others and make them feel small by using nothing but their words.

8. They bully others

Manipulative people are bullies. This goes beyond insults and often involves alienation and the spreading of rumors. Again, this is childish behavior, but it is often exhibited by immature, manipulative adults. Actions such as ignoring certain people in a group, not letting them voice their opinions, or leaving them behind are some of the more “adult” ways to bully. Manipulators will use these methods to establish dominance. In truth, these people are incredibly self-conscious and have low self-esteem, and will hurt anyone around them in order to feel better about themselves.

9. They minimize their behavior

Manipulators make it seem like their words and deeds are “not that big a deal.” Ironically, most of the time it’s them who has made a big deal about things. That is, until they hear something they don’t like and turn the tables on the other party. They clearly don’t show any empathy for the people who have spent valuable time and energy trying to help them, and instead shift the blame onto everyone else. They know they have a problem, but they make it seem like it’s the world that’s out to get them and not the other way around.

10. They blame others

As I said, manipulators shift blame constantly. They skate through life without taking any sort of responsibility for their actions. They either flat out don’t admit they did anything wrong, or they have some explanation to make their actions sound reasonable given the circumstances. Manipulative people simply don’t live by any code of ethics, and when it catches up with them, they’ll point the finger anywhere else except for at themselves.


RETRIEVED https://www.lifehack.org/294861/10-habits-manipulative-people

Being a Survivor of Child Abuse
Inside the mind of a victim

Inside the mind of a victim

I was abused for sixteen years by my mother.

From an outside perspective, I belonged to a middle-class family and lived a happy and fulfilled life. I excelled at school and partook in many extra-curricular activities, such as swimming, piano lessons and ballet. I was the textbook definition of a ‘good child’.

My first recollection of abuse was when I was perhaps five or six years old. My parents were arguing and when I tried to intervene, my mother lashed out and struck me across the face.

The stone of her engagement ring cut my face drawing blood. I vaguely remember being upset, however, what sticks with me is the next day. I was at school and met with questions as to what happened to my face. Instinctively I constructed a lie and told everyone that I had walked into the sharp edge of a door.

What amazes me, is that I was able to lie so quickly and convincingly at such a young age. I do not even remember my mother telling me to lie, I just know that felt as if I should.

As I grew older and my mother’s ability to control me diminished, her abuse developed.

There was one time where I truly feared for my life. I do not remember the cause for her distress, however, she became so enraged that she reached for a wooden statue of a seahorse that was in our hallway, and lifted her arm high up to strike me with it. At that moment, I saw her pupils shrink and her face was screwed up in extreme torment. I thought that if she hit me with that statue, I would probably die.

I froze in panic and said nothing. I think my passive reaction caused her to snap out of what I assume was a dissociative state. She changed her mind and she dropped the statue.

Another time, she had kicked my legs so I was sat on the floor and she was slamming my head into the wall. I kicked my legs out towards her and struck her in the chest, hoping to get her away from me. She cried out in pain and began crying, berating me for being abusive and hurting her. The problem with her was that she never thought logically and that situation then became one where I hurt her, regardless of the fact that she had just been assaulting me previously.

Many people have often questioned why myself or my father never spoke out and told anyone about the abuse that we faced. The answer is a complex one, yet it can be simplified to the fact that when you are subjected to abuse for the majority of your life, it can become normalised.

I understood what my mother did was wrong, however, I never believed that it was bad enough to speak out. The other reason is due to embarrassment. The trouble with abuse is the victim often feels ashamed, even though the shame should be entirely on the abuser.

I could not let my friends or teachers know what was happening, yet at the same time, I dreamed that they would somehow know and save me from the horrors that I faced.

When I recall the years of abuse that I faced, I think the emotional abuse affected me much greater than the physical. I did not like to be hit, however, I would’ve chosen that over the alternative, which was the punishment of humiliation.

She achieved this in various ways, such as locking me outside of the front of the house, forcing me to sit outside knowing the neighbours could see me. Another method would be to text my friends shameful and embarrassing messages from my phone, knowing that I would have to pretend it was me, as I could not explain that my mother would do such a thing.

Towards the end, as I neared adolescence, I became really upset with my situation. My mother and father had separated, due to her forcing him to leave, and her distress caused by the dissolution of marriage was taken out on me.

As her mental health spiralled, the emotional abuse and screaming became more frequent. I was nearing the age of taking exams as a sixteen-year-old girl, and I was tired of juggling my school work, with having to look after my mother who was out of control.

I would often have sleepless nights due to her making me sleep on the floor in a cold room as a punishment, or keeping me up by shouting at me for some trivial mistake that I had made. I then became desperate for my situation to change.

At this point, it was still never a viable option in my mind to tell an outsider and get help. Not because I was scared, or because I didn’t think that anyone would believe me. I just simply did not consider doing it. I then started hoping that someone else would save me from my situation. I often opened windows when my mother was in a fit of rage, hoping a neighbour or passerby would hear her and report it.

I shamefully remember hoping that she would do something really drastic- inflict so much damage to me that I would end up in the hospital or that someone would call the police to take her away. Like many others, I ask my younger self: ‘why did you not just simply tell someone?’

Then came the day that completely changed my life. I had recently been in contact with my father and had told him that I could not take the situation anymore and that he must do something. He had a wide range of evidence of her abuse, from text messages to videos. I was at school one day when I was asked to leave my classroom to speak to someone.

The police sat in a room and explained that my father had reported my mother for abuse and that she was in custody.

I was taken to a police safe house in the forest to complete a vulnerable witness video statement, as I was under the age of eighteen and the victim of traumatic crime.

I was asked to outline as much as I could of the abuse that I faced throughout the years. I listed multiple instances in a rather matter of fact way, to which the policeman was shocked. He told me how he was stunned that I could talk of such experiences so calmly and without getting upset.

He also told me how horrified he was, as a father of a young girl, that someone could face what I had. It was at this point, that I truly understood the reality of my experience, causing my resolute appearance to shatter. I broke down in tears, realising that for the first time in my life, somebody else knew what I had faced.

As an adult leading a happy and successful life, I can still see the remnants of my trauma. One of my biggest flaws is that I overthink how others perceive me. I spend hours worrying if I have said something wrong, or embarrassing, which I believe stems from punishments of humiliation, which were designed to render me as vulnerable.


RETRIEVED https://medium.com/@nepiggott/being-a-survivor-of-child-abuse-c19d08cdaae8

Natasha Piggott


Scientists Have Found a Strong Link Between a Terrible Childhood And Being Intensely Creative

MICHELLE STARR 8 MAY 2018

Performing artists who were exposed to abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family as a child might experience their creative process more intensely, according to a new long-term study that has found a link between the two.https://bc67c5507046c5114c00f19acd7fd6d0.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Psychologists at California State University, Northridge, studied 234 professional performers, looking for a reason why mental health disorders are so common in the performing arts.

“The notion that artists and performing artists suffered more pathology, including bipolar disorder, troubled us,” dance coordinator and psychologist Paula Thomson, a co-author on the new study, told Psypost.

“No one seemed willing to also include the effects of early childhood adversity and adult trauma and its influence on creativity and psychopathology.”

The study examined 83 actors, directors, and designers; 129 dancers; and 20 musicians and opera singers. These study participants filled out self-report surveys pertaining to childhood adversity, sense of shame, creative experiences, proneness to fantasies, anxiety, and level of engagement in an activity.

The study found that, compared to the original Adverse Childhood Experiences study conducted back in 1998 on 9,508 adults, performing artists as a group reported a higher level of childhood emotional abuse and neglect.

The participants were able to be categorised into three groups: those who reported a high level of childhood adversity; those who had experienced a lower or medium level; and those who had experienced little to none.null

It’s the high-level group that demonstrated the greater extremes. These performing artists had much higher anxiety, much more internalised shame, and reported more cumulative past traumatic events. They were also more prone to fantasies.

But they also seemed more connected with the creative process, the researchers said. They were more aware of it, and reported feeling more absorbed in it. They reported heightened awareness of a state of inspiration and a sense of discovery during the process.

They were also able to move more easily between the state of absorption and a more distant state for critical awareness, and were more receptive to art.

“Lastly,” the researchers wrote, “[this] group identified greater appreciation for the transformational quality of creativity, in particular, how the creative process enabled a deeper engagement with the self and world. They recognised that it operated as a powerful force in their life.”

Obviously the study has caveats, as self-reported studies can be prone to personal bias. Also, since it was limited to performing artists, comparisons couldn’t easily be made with other subsets of the population.

Nevertheless, the finding, the researchers said, may indicate that adult performers who have experienced childhood adversity are better able to recognise and value the creative process; and the ability of that group to enjoy the creative process could indicate resilience.

“We are saddened by the number of participants in our study who have suffered multiple forms of childhood adversity as well as adult assaults (both sexual and non-sexual),” Thomson told Psypost.

“So many participants in our sample have experienced poly-traumatization and yet they also embrace their passion for performance and creativity. They are embracing ways to express all that is human.”

The research has been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.


RETRIEVED https://www.sciencealert.com/childhood-adversity-linked-to-intense-creative-process

Creativity’s CSA Impact | performing arts + child sexual abuse

Long suspected throughout many CSA Victims’ childhoods, in 2018 Scientific Alert published the following article on the proven-identified link: “Scientists Have Found a Strong Link Between a Terrible Childhood And Being Intensely Creative”. Opening with ‘exposure to abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family’ throughout a victim’s childhood, expands to join together how these impacts have a clear linkage. Complemented through Counselling and verifying some Victims’ long-held suspicions, this Article gives another (Scientific/Journalistic) POV – which may also satisfy those of us who often felt disbelieved, palmed-away or ignored. We knew what we were/had survived; we just didn’t know how to word, or should I say ‘Scientifically categorise’ what we ‘endured’! … WTF ?!!!… we were only young, innocent kids at their time: the perfect hunting ground, for these Criminal-Pedophilic-Dirty-(typically)-Senior/Old-(WO)-Men.

I apologise for going off on an emotional-outburst, yet this is a toned-down form of many of the conversations had with Victims, Parents and Relations; Thankfully, their mutual aim is to protect this triggering news from younger Siblings; As horrifying as this possibility is to consider, perhaps this is (another) layer of defence which the Criminal-Pedophilic-Dirty-(typically)-Senior/Old-(WO)-Men know of + exploit. Having (naturally?) always having entered the Arts, this Article gives many reasons and answers questions, yet more interests may be shown. Perhaps this is an underlying advantage of Creativity, yet CSA Survivours I’ve spent any time with each have their own ‘checklists’ to work through. At this point, I’ll aim to re-publish the complete Article ASAP, in addition to again providing the Private + Confidential Counsellors. Of great interest, is the amount of focus I am working through with my Counsellor on the “minor and inconsiderate” events, which are actually mounting up to explain the devastating impact which may result.

Hopes are that each of you, your loved ones and each of our ecosystems copes alright throughout this COVID19  Pandemic.

/                 /                 /                 RECENT SEARCH

Performing artists who were exposed to abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family as a child might experience their creative process more … https://www.sciencealert.com/childhood-adversity-linked-to-intense-creative-process

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REFERENCE

Starr, M. (2018). Scientists Have Found a Strong Link Between a Terrible Childhood And Being Intensely Creative. https://www.sciencealert.com/childhood-adversity-linked-to-intense-creative-process

Tip Sheet: Warning Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse In A Child’s Behaviors

Any one sign doesn’t mean that a child was sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you begin asking questions and consider seeking help. Keep in mind that some of these signs can emerge at other times of stress such as:

  • During a divorce
  • Death of a family member or pet
  • Problems at school or with friends
  • Other anxiety-inducing or traumatic events

Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent

  • Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
  • Seems distracted or distant at odd times
  • Has a sudden change in eating habits
    • Refuses to eat
    • Loses or drastically increases appetite
    •  Has trouble swallowing.
  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
  • Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
  • Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
  • Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
  • Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
  • Talks about a new older friend
  • Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
  • Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
  • Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge

Signs more typical of younger children

  • An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
  • Has new words for private body parts
  • Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
  • Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
  • Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
  • Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Signs more typical in adolescents

  • Self-injury (cutting, burning)
  • Inadequate personal hygiene
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Running away from home
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Suicide attempts
  • Fear of intimacy or closeness
  • Compulsive eating or dieting

Physical warning signs

Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare.  If you see these signs, bring your child to a doctor.   Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
  • Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
  • Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

What You Can Do If You See Warning Signs

  • Create a Safety Plan. Don’t wait for “proof” of child sexual abuse.
  • Look for patterns of behavior that make children less safe. Keep track of behaviors that concern you. This Sample Journal Page can be a helpful tool.
  • See our Let’s Talk Guidebook for tips on speaking up whenever you have a concern.
  • If you have questions or would like resources or guidance for responding to a specific situation, visit our Online Help Center.

Share Prevention Tip Sheets in Your Community

We encourage you to print and share these tip sheets in your family and community. Our tip sheets are licensed under the Creative Commons, which allows you to reproduce them as long as you follow these Guidelines. Please contact us about permissions and to tell us how you plan to put our resources to work.


RETRIEVED https://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/warning-signs-possible-abuse

Complicated grief – Symptoms and causes

Overview

Losing a loved one is one of the most distressing and, unfortunately, common experiences people face. Most people experiencing normal grief and bereavement have a period of sorrow, numbness, and even guilt and anger. Gradually these feelings ease, and it’s possible to accept loss and move forward.

For some people, feelings of loss are debilitating and don’t improve even after time passes. This is known as complicated grief, sometimes called persistent complex bereavement disorder. In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble recovering from the loss and resuming your own life.

Different people follow different paths through the grieving experience. The order and timing of these phases may vary from person to person:

  • Accepting the reality of your loss
  • Allowing yourself to experience the pain of your loss
  • Adjusting to a new reality in which the deceased is no longer present
  • Having other relationships

These differences are normal. But if you’re unable to move through these stages more than a year after the death of a loved one, you may have complicated grief. If so, seek treatment. It can help you come to terms with your loss and reclaim a sense of acceptance and peace.

Symptoms

During the first few months after a loss, many signs and symptoms of normal grief are the same as those of complicated grief. However, while normal grief symptoms gradually start to fade over time, those of complicated grief linger or get worse. Complicated grief is like being in an ongoing, heightened state of mourning that keeps you from healing.

Signs and symptoms of complicated grief may include:

  • Intense sorrow, pain and rumination over the loss of your loved one
  • Focus on little else but your loved one’s death
  • Extreme focus on reminders of the loved one or excessive avoidance of reminders
  • Intense and persistent longing or pining for the deceased
  • Problems accepting the death
  • Numbness or detachment
  • Bitterness about your loss
  • Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Inability to enjoy life or think back on positive experiences with your loved one

Complicated grief also may be indicated if you continue to:

  • Have trouble carrying out normal routines
  • Isolate from others and withdraw from social activities
  • Experience depression, deep sadness, guilt or self-blame
  • Believe that you did something wrong or could have prevented the death
  • Feel life isn’t worth living without your loved one
  • Wish you had died along with your loved one

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor or a mental health professional if you have intense grief and problems functioning that don’t improve at least one year after the passing of your loved one.

If you have thoughts of suicide

At times, people with complicated grief may consider suicide. If you’re thinking about suicide, talk to someone you trust. If you think you may act on suicidal feelings, call 000 or 112 (if calling from a Mobile Phone). Or call a suicide hotline number: In Australia, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) to reach a trained Counsellor. For NRS Applications call 1800 555 677. Interpreter: 13 14 50

Causes

It’s not known what causes complicated grief. As with many mental health disorders, it may involve your environment, your personality, inherited traits and your body’s natural chemical makeup.

Risk factors

Complicated grief occurs more often in females and with older age. Factors that may increase the risk of developing complicated grief include:

  • An unexpected or violent death, such as death from a car accident, or the murder or suicide of a loved one
  • Death of a child
  • Close or dependent relationship to the deceased person
  • Social isolation or loss of a support system or friendships
  • Past history of depression, separation anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect
  • Other major life stressors, such as major financial hardships

Complications

Complicated grief can affect you physically, mentally and socially. Without appropriate treatment, complications may include:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Anxiety, including PTSD
  • Significant sleep disturbances
  • Increased risk of physical illness, such as heart disease, cancer or high blood pressure
  • Long-term difficulty with daily living, relationships or work activities
  • Alcohol, nicotine use or substance misuse

Prevention

It’s not clear how to prevent complicated grief. Getting counseling soon after a loss may help, especially for people at increased risk of developing complicated grief. In addition, caregivers providing end-of-life care for a loved one may benefit from counseling and support to help prepare for death and its emotional aftermath.

  • Talking. Talking about your grief and allowing yourself to cry also can help prevent you from getting stuck in your sadness. As painful as it is, trust that in most cases, your pain will start to lift if you allow yourself to feel it.
  • Support. Family members, friends, social support groups and your faith community are all good options to help you work through your grief. You may be able to find a support group focused on a particular type of loss, such as the death of a spouse or a child. Ask your doctor to recommend local resources.
  • Bereavement counseling. Through early counseling after a loss, you can explore emotions surrounding your loss and learn healthy coping skills. This may help prevent negative thoughts and beliefs from gaining such a strong hold that they’re difficult to overcome.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

CONT … Diagnosis & treatment…


RETRIEVED https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/complicated-grief/symptoms-causes/syc-20360374

‘Corruption, abuse, deception AND obstruction …’

Does the mention of any of the terms of ‘corruption, abuse, deception, obstruction’ cause a creepy feeling, the hairs on the back of your neck stand, or a chill run down your spine? You may have been effected by any of inappropriate issues, that are still becoming prevalent today. Most of us are familiar with the saying of “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely”. (Lord Acton)

Translations of this are often made into areas of vulnerability: Teacher-Students (pedophilia), Church Leader-Youth (child sexual abuser), Sports Coach-Player (privatelessons), Disability Carer-disabled (manipulation), Government-Indigenous (stolen generations), Caretaker-Retiree (aged care abuse) and Banks-Customers (coercion). Thankfully, there’s been many Royal Commissions called, with more to come. Our ‘RoyalCommBBC’ is only a small example of what can be possible, when the Sharing of beneficial Information-News-Experiences-Solutions are made.

A great part of any Institution, is that like members typically stick together. It’s been found that when ‘reality hits home’, many of us acknowledge that they’re not alone AND there is a simple solution available. This is where RCbbc can help, in supporting past Students, Parents and Friends in contacting experts in their fields.

Visible Project

Improving health and wellbeing with adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

Yes, our RCbbc Blog has signed their Policy Statement & as such, we’ll be Sharing much of our parallel beliefs. Starting with the logo + goal.

Our goal is simple: we want to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for adult survivors of child sexual abuse. 

At Visible, we are a catalyst for health and social care services system change across Leeds and beyond. We encourage, shape and instigate this change, using the experience of survivors to influence every aspect of the way we work.

Check out their site: https://visibleproject.org.uk