Teal ribbon symbolizing sexual assault survivors next to the word "Hope"

Every person’s story is different, but emotional trauma related to past sexual abuse can run the gamut from hazy confusion to debilitating psychological and emotional disturbances. Speaking with a Dallas sexual abuse victim lawyer can put you in touch with expert local therapists and investigators who can help clarify what happened in your past. You may be entitled to financial compensation to cover the cost of therapy, medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional trauma.      

Recovering Memories Of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Memory loss is prevalent, affecting up to 38 percent of sexual assault victims. Minutes or even years become erased from the mind as the frontal lobe shuts down in response to trauma. It’s the frontal lobe and thalamus that provides a sense of time and place, that puts feelings into words. The limbic system hijacks the brain– increasing activity in the amygdala, which produces the panicky fight-or-flight response. When these portions of the brain are not functional, new memories cannot be stored in the hippocampus.

Some of these memories are imprinted in fragmented sensory pieces linked to particular images, sounds, or sensations. The only memories you may have are feelings of extreme anxiety, fear, or sadness. You may have dreams that leave you gasping for air, or sweaty palms when someone touches you, exaggerated startle reflex, a tendency toward substance abuse or overeating, the inability to achieve normal arousal, or deep, inexplicable feelings of guilt and shame.

A licensed mental health practitioner can create a safe space for memory retrieval and recovery. Though it is difficult, working through past trauma puts you back in control of your emotions and paves the way for achieving better day-to-day functioning. It can also yield valuable insights to share with Dallas sexual assault victim lawyers who can pursue financial restitution to make you feel “whole” again.

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Signs Of Sexual Abuse PTSD In Adults

Every experience is different, but signs of sexual trauma-related PTSD typically include:

  • Difficulty concentrating and memory loss
  • Emotional outbursts and a fight-or-flight response
  • Extreme dislikes of places, smells, sounds, people, or situations
  • Restlessness, agitation, discomfort, hyper-vigilance, and anxiety

Relationship Problems Linked To Childhood Sexual Abuse

Interpersonal relationships are most commonly affected. Adults with a history of sexual trauma may:

  • Be unable to establish healthy boundaries or say “no.”
  • Become suddenly angry or harbor longstanding resentments.
  • Feel overly attached and fearful of being alone.
  • Find it impossible to open up in relationships, develop intimacy, or share thoughts.
  • Mentally “escape” during sex, unable to enjoy the here and now.
  • Suffer confusion about sexual identity or orientation.

Physical and mental illnesses linked to sexual trauma

Physical manifestations of sexual trauma may include:

  • Anorexia, bulimia, or overeating
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic digestive issues
  • Chronic pain syndrome
  • Depression
  • Fatigue, lethargy, and listlessness
  • Gynecological disorders
  • Immune system disorders
  • Joint pain or arthritis
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Obsessive-compulsions
  • Persistent headaches
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia or nightmares
  • Substance abuse

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Signs You Were Sexually Abused as a Child

By some estimates, between 12 and 40 percent of U.S. children suffer sexual abuse before the age of 16. The long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse is significant, and repressed memories are common. In addition, adult sexual abuse survivors often suffer mental health issues and may not recall the abuse until they seek therapy for other problems.

The following are signs you may have been sexually abused as a child.

  • Behavioral Sequelae: Survivors of childhood sexual abuse may develop PTSD with recurring flashbacks. There is often a distorted perception that they caused or deserved the abuse. Humiliation, shame, and guilt can produce anxiety, severe mood disorders, and sleep disturbances.
  • Physical Effects: Chronic pelvic and abdominal or pelvic pain are common survivors’ complaints. There is also a strong correlation between eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. In addition, survivors are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and struggle with addiction. A study conducted in 2016 at a substance abuse center found that 69 percent of men and 81 percent of women reported having been sexually abused as a child.
  • Sexual Effects: It is not unusual for survivors to experience sexual dysfunction and difficulties with arousal. They are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors like unprotected intercourse and sex with multiple partners, making them more prone to unplanned pregnancies and transmitted infections. Dyspareunia, vaginismus, and chronic pelvic pain are also prevalent among survivors.
  • Interpersonal Effects: Childhood sexual abuse can lead to a broad range of interpersonal effects. Roughly half of the survivors experience revictimization and are more likely to be exploited by others. Moreover, studies suggest they often experience trust issues, fear of intimacy, and struggle to maintain healthy relationships with family and members of the opposite sex.

Seeking Help When Signs Of Sexual Abuse Emerge

Sexual trauma is not the only cause of these symptoms, so it is essential to seek the help of trusted medical providers. Rather than researching symptoms, worrying, and self-medicating, professional support is critical to healing. It could be a phone call to a mental health line, one-on-one time with a psychotherapist, checking into a substance abuse treatment center, or joining a local support group. Upon discovering you have a history of sexual abuse, your anger and sense of empowerment may inspire a determination to take legal action.

Let Crowe Arnold & Majors, Llp Help You On The Road To Recovery

Dallas sexual assault victim lawyers at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP are available on a contingency basis. Consultations are free of charge. Should you wish to file a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation for the harm you suffered through no fault of your own, a Dallas personal injury attorney is at your disposal free of charge until money is recovered on your behalf. The deadline for filing a sexual abuse lawsuit was recently raised from age 33 to age 48, but exceptions are sometimes granted, and the laws are always changing. Therefore, it’s best to consult with a lawyer, free of charge, before counting yourself out. Whether sexual violence affected your life months or years ago, it’s never too late to seek justice and healing.