This week (7 May 2017) is Mental Health Awareness Week.
A new report from The Mental Health Foundation has found that nearly two thirds of us will experience problems with our mental health in our lifetime and just 13% of us are living with high levels of good mental health.
Sexual abuse and sexual assault can have a long lasting impact on a person’s wellbeing and mental health. Sexual abuse can teach those who are subjected to it that their bodies are not their own. Feelings of terror, shame and guilt are widely reported.
These feelings may be exacerbated by the process of disclosing abuse to authorities such as the police and through the criminal process if the abuser is prosecuted.
Survivors of sexual abuse may suffer:-
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
• Eating disorders
• Suicidal thoughts
There is also evidence that disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder can be caused or contributed to by sexual abuse.
Furthermore, those who suffer sexual abuse in childhood are statistically more likely to be abused again later in life, abuse drugs or alcohol and have difficulties with their personal relationships. Someone who has suffered sexual abuse is statistically over 20 times more likely to have a drug or alcohol problem.
However recovery from the trauma of sexual abuse can be possible with the following forms of therapy being particularly effective for many people:-
• EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing Therapy) to help process traumatic memories
• CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to help retrain the brain in relation to problems such as panic attacks or unhealthy behaviours such as avoidance or substance abuse
• Exposure therapy in relation to specific triggers and phobias such as smells or locations
Unfortunately treatment for mental health problems is woefully underfunded in the UK and can be difficult to access via the NHS. This is where a compensation claim can often be helpful as, although financial compensation can never take away the pain, we can seek funding for counselling and therapy to assist survivors in their recovery.