Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


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The Abused Addict – Roads To Recovery *Updated 2013*

Over the last few weeks as a guest blogger on Rachel Grant Coaching, we have talked about childhood sexual abuse as it relates to addiction, depression, anxiety, abandonment, PTSD, the impact it may have on our DNA…Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY!!! I only make a joke not to make light of our situation as survivors, but rather to bring a little levity to a situation that for some of feels like the sky is falling and we are being attacked on multiple fronts by creatures that can devour us. So with all of these potential pitfalls and problems seeming to lurk around every corner, what do we do?

Having done my usual research and even stepping into waters just being tested, I have come across both the usual suspects of therapy and a couple not so well-known. It is my hope that no matter whether one of these specific therapies helps you or a loved one or not, you find one that does, because what I do know is that healing from abuse is not something that happens naturally. It takes help, it takes time and it takes work. So please do whatever you need to reach out and find the help that is available.

Under the category of “usual but relatively proven” therapies we find Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Group Therapy, and Self-Help Groups.

Psychotherapy consists of a series of techniques for treating mental health, emotional and some psychiatric disorders. Psychotherapy helps the patient understand what helps them feel positive or anxious, as well as accepting their strong and weak points. If people can identify their feelings and ways of thinking they become better at coping with difficult situations.

Psychotherapy is commonly used for psychological problems that have had a number of years to accumulate. It only works if a trusting relationship can be built up between the client and the psychotherapist. Treatment can continue for several months, and even years.

Some people refer to psychotherapy as “talking treatment” because it is generally based on talking to the therapist or group of people with similar problems. Some forms of psychotherapy also use other forms of communication, including writing, artwork, drama, narrative story or music. Sessions take place within a structured encounter between a qualified therapist and a client or clients. Purposeful, theoretically based psychotherapy started in the 19th century with psychoanalysis; it has developed significantly since then.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviors. CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders, including phobias, addiction, depression and anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is generally short-term and focused on helping clients deal with a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior.

The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behavior. For example, a person who spends a lot of time thinking about plane crashes, runway accidents and other air disasters may find themselves avoiding air travel. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to teach patients that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment. Because CBT is usually a short-term treatment option, it is often more affordable than some other types of therapy. CBT is also empirically supported and has been shown to effectively help patients overcome a wide variety of maladaptive behaviors.

(Note from Rachel Grant: As as little aside, the Beyond Surviving program she developed for adult survivors of abuse draws upon many of the techniques used in CBT.)

Delivered in a group of people, Group Therapy and Self-Help Groups are for people who have experienced abuse and can be an extremely cathartic experience. Individuals who feel different, ashamed, or guilty as a result of the abuse will benefit immensely from discovering other people who have lived through similar experiences. Although not limited to groups like SNAP and The Lamplighters, they are certainly organizations that have proven themselves to be helpful for survivors of CSA.

(Note: Rachel Grant leads an Adult Survivors of Child Abuse support group every month in San Francisco http://www.rachelgrantcoaching.com and I am the South Florida Area support group leader for SNAP-Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests- http://www.snapnetwork.org – Additionally, Together We Heal helps to provide counseling for those in need. Be sure to contact either of us and we can tell you more).

Next we have some relatively newer therapies, with regard to years of experience in the realm of psychology. TRE (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises) is one. TRE is a simple technique that uses exercises to release stress or tension from the body that accumulates from every day circumstances of life, from difficult situations, immediate or prolonged stressful situations, or traumatic life experiences.

TRE is a set of six exercises that help to release deep tension from the body by evoking a self-controlled muscular shaking process in the body called neurogenic muscle tremors. The uniqueness of this technique is that this shaking originates deep in the core of the body of the psoas muscles. These gentle tremors reverberate outwards along the spine releasing tension from the sacrum to the cranium.

Another is by a former associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s educational and counseling psychology department, Kate Chard and it centers on Cognitive Processing. “It was the first NIMH-funded treatment outcome study on childhood sexual abuse,” she says. This three-year study of women (Chard has done an equivalent study with men) took adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse through a 17-week, manual-based program, with individual or a combination of individual and group sessions.

“What you think affects what you feel, which, in turn, affects what you do,” Chard says, summing up the basic theory behind cognitive therapy. “We build on this by saying that due to the traumatic event, the ability to process cognitively has become impaired. Biologists can look at the neurotransmitter connections in the brain and actually see differences between people who’ve been through traumatic events, such as childhood abuse, and people who have not.”

Another option is coaching. While still fairly new, coaching is a great option for survivors of abuse who are ready to move into the final stage of recovery. If you would like to learn more about coaching, you can of course give Rachel a call or email her. She’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about how coaching works.

While these are by no means all of the potential therapies out there, the point I am hoping comes through today is that no matter which type of therapy you seek as a survivor of abuse, the point is that you indeed seek one, and don’t stop until you find the one that works for you. As I mentioned earlier, it is of the utmost importance that you find professional help. Just as a police officer or military person is required to see a therapist when they go through an extraordinary time of trauma, so we as survivors of childhood sexual abuse must get assistance. What we have been through is beyond an extraordinary event, it’s beyond the pale. And seeking help does not mean we are weak, it shows no signs of lacking anything. To the contrary, it means you care enough about yourself and the ones that love you that you will take the necessary steps to ensure your continued growth as a person. Let me say this again, you aren’t weak, you are human, it’s ok for others to help you.

***UPDATE***

I had a reader ask me if I had heard of any therapy for survivors as they related to the use of animals, they spoke specifically of horses. And while I did not find any with horses, what I DID find was some exciting news. I discovered the following article and subsequent foundation that uses dogs to help survivors of all types of trauma, and other therapeutic needs. While its not specific for CSA, I have no doubt that it has the potential to help both children and adults, as it does with other forms of trauma. So please look into it if you are finding that what you have tried has not been successful for you. As I mentioned in this article, the main objective is to keep trying until you find what works for you. We are all different and what works for one might not work for another. But I know you can find something that WILL work for you as long as you look.

http://www.safehorizon.org/index/get-involved-14/volunteer-8/pet-therapy-helping-child-abuse-victims-187.html

http://thegooddogfoundation.org/

And thank you to the reader that brought this to my attention. You may never know who all will be helped with this knowledge…but you can rest assured that someone will benefit from it. Thank you!

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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Together We Heal guest blog on Rachel Grant Coaching – Week 3

As you know by now, we are doing a 4 week guest blog for Rachel Grant Coaching. Our third week is how the trauma of childhood sexual abuse can change your DNA. I know that you will be shocked at the recent scientific discoveries. As with the previous two weeks, please go to the link to her site, read and share with us your thoughts. We want to thank Rachel for the opportunity to reach even more survivors and hopefully help them on their journey of healing.

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-abused-addict-how-trauma-can-change.html

Thank you all for your support of survivors everywhere.

David


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The Abused Addict – How Trauma Can Change Your DNA

Months ago I was a guest blogger on “Rachel Grant Coaching” and came across some fascinating research regarding how trauma can impact the DNA of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Did I read that correctly? Childhood Sexual Abuse can alter my DNA???

What is wrong with me? Why can’t I move on like others are? I stopped using drugs to numb my pain from being sexually abused, and I am facing my demons with a sober mind. Why am I stuck, feeling depressed, anxious, having all of these negative thoughts when I know there is light at the end of the tunnel, not an oncoming train?!

I have since learned that the damage done was much farther reaching than I could have ever imagined. I wondered why it felt like it was taking me longer to work through my struggles than others who had “just abused or were just addicted to drugs regardless of sexual abuse.” I recently found a potential reason behind this struggle.

Without getting so nerdy that you are bored to tears, here is the bottom line. Researchers and scientists have documented for the first time that childhood trauma leaves mark on the DNA of some victims. These changes have been shown in three genes: the FKBP5, the 5-HTTLPR, and the CRHR1.

They have determined that some abused children are at a higher risk of anxiety and mood disorders due to traumatic experiences that can induce lasting changes to their gene regulation. As a result, those affected find themselves less able to cope with stressful situations throughout their lives, frequently leading to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety disorders in adulthood. Therefore, they are less able to process and work through their personal challenges, sometimes even leading to suicide.

We talk about DNA as if it’s a template, like a mold for a car part in a factory. But DNA isn’t really like that. It’s more like a script. Think of Romeo and Juliet, different directors using different actors produce different versions. Both productions used Shakespeare’s script, yet the two are entirely different. Identical starting points, different outcomes.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being.

More than 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) members undergoing a comprehensive physical examination chose to provide detailed information about their childhood experience of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction.

The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States. Progress in preventing and recovering from the nation’s worst health and social problems is likely to begin by understanding that many of these problems arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences.

Possible legal and policy implications of this area of research remain far in the future, but could include identifying earlier critical periods for childhood intervention programs, better understanding abuse as a mitigating factor if the person is later convicted of a crime related to an abnormal stress response, or calculating damages in a civil lawsuit against the abusive caregiver. The most significant implication is better understanding epigenetic pathology caused by childhood abuse and neglect, which may be an important part of a multi-faceted approach towards treating survivors of abuse who continue to suffer from its lasting effects.

So once again, here is an even stronger validation by scientists on the cutting edge of DNA study why we MUST do all we can to prevent childhood sexual abuse in order to ensure that children do not suffer the trauma and long-lasting effects.

Doctors and scientists hope these discoveries will yield new treatment strategies tailored to individual patients, as well as increased public awareness of the importance of protecting children from trauma and its consequences. And isn’t that the true bottom-line—protecting children from trauma in the first place?

References

– MPI of Psychiatry, Munich Germany, 2003-2012
– Nature Neuroscience 2012
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention
– Maggie Brown, MS, ELS
– Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism
– Colin A. Hodgkinson, PhD
– Pei-Hong Shen, MS
– Dr. Sarchiapone
– The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance, by Nessa Carey (Columbia University Press, 2012).
– Christine Heim, Bekh Bradley, Tanja C. Mletzko, Todd C. Deveau, Dominique L. Musselman, Charles B. Nemeroff, Kerry J. Ressler, and Elisabeth B. Binder
– Benoit Labonte, Volodymyr Yerko, Jeffrey Gross, Naguib Mechawar, Michael J. Meaney, Moshe Szyf, and Gustavo Turecki. Differential Glucocorticoid Receptor Exon 1B, 1C, and 1H Expression and Methylation in Suicide Completers with a History of Childhood Abuse. Biological Psychiatry, 2012
– NIMH
– National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Center for Research Resources
– National Institutes of Health
– Emory and Grady Memorial General Clinical Research Center and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund
– Binder EB, Bradley RG, Wei L, Epstein MP, Deveau TC, Mercer KB, Tang Y, Gillespie CF, Heim CM, Nemeroff CB, Schwartz AC, Cubells JF, Ressler KJ. Association of FKBP5 Polymorphisms and Childhood Abuse With Risk of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, 299 (11): 1291-1305. March 18, 2008.
– Kelly Lowenberg, The Stanford Center for Law and Biosciences
– Moshe Szyf, a McGill University epigeneticist, and Michael Meaney, a McGill University neurologist

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.