Sexual Abuse & Diagnosis

Let me share a quote with you that someone tweeted me today [along with a link to a really interesting bit of reading]:

“Sexual abuse is a complex life experience, not a diagnosis or disorder”

I love that. It makes perfect sense to me. Naturally, there are people who have been sexually abused who may also have a disorder. But the experience of being abused does not necessarily mean that you need to be diagnosed with something or other. I should think that if you have survived childhood sexual abuse, it’s pretty natural that you at some point in your life begin to react to it. And that doesn’t automatically mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Absolutely, your view on things will likely have been affected by this trauma – but, can anyone really say what’s outside of the norm, when that crosses into the realm of illness?

Let’s say you break your leg. You’re in pain. You react by screaming to let people know of your agony. Does this mean that you suffer from broken leg syndrome or acute pain disorder? Or is this a perfectly reasonable response to what has happened to you? What if you pass out instead of scream? Does that put you in a position where you surely must be suffering from some DSM-IV/ICD-10 identifiable illness – other than the fact that you have a broken leg?

I know, I know – it’s an incredibly simplified comparison, but maybe you can see my point? Certainly there are people who have been subjected to childhood sexual abuse who are bipolar, who have a borderline personality disorder, who show signs of paranoia. Of course there is. But that doesn’t mean that as a direct result of having been abused you are now fundamentally flawed.

Anyway – just had to get that out of my system.

On to other things.


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