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Sexual Violence and Chemical Dependency – Some Facts

July 8, 2011

by Teresa O., Sexual Violence Center Volunteer

One reason that motivated me to become a volunteer at SVC was what I’ve been learning as an Addiction Counseling student, mainly that there is a very strong connection between being a victim/survivor of sexual violence and having an alcohol/drug problem. After all, many chemically dependent people originally start using alcohol and/or drugs as a pain killer to numb feelings such as fear, anxiety, anger, insecurity, dread and sadness that are often the result of assorted physical, emotional and sexual traumas of childhood.

The statistics are revealing, showing that between 75 and 80 percent of women diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder report that they are victim/survivors of either and sometimes both childhood and adult sexual assault. And it is well known that not all victim/survivors report that they were sexually assaulted.

Many victim/survivors of childhood or adult sexual violence may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) with many symptoms that can feel overwhelming to deal with on a daily basis. Some of these symptoms are flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, panic attacks, heightened sensitivity to loud noises, and a sense of impending doom. Understandably seeking to survive or cope with the pain and confusion, some victim/survivors may use alcohol or drugs in an attempt to numb themselves. Unfortunately, although substances may help in the short-term, it can often turn into a full-blown disorder or issue to deal with during an already challenging time.

There are many healthier coping skills that include self-care staples such as yoga, meditation, walks, and acupuncture that can all activate the brain’s natural painkillers, endorphins, which are much more effective in aiding the healing process.

For more information on mental health and substance abuse, please visit The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or visit the SVC website to find out about SVC support groups.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 28, 2011 3:59 am

    If you happen to find your teens very troubled due to the trauma they have acquired in their childhood it is best to consult councilors and have a regular counseling session for your teen to be able to recover from that experience that traumatized them. And little do we know they might be at risk if not helped. For info on at risk youth programs click here .

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