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Sexual Assault as Childhood Trauma and Treatment

Patients who suffered any kind of violence during childhood are more likely to have mental and physical disorders when they grow up. Sexual assaults are the most common type of violence; they are observed in numerous families and are often silenced. What petrifies society is that parents or close relatives perform such violence and deny it. Hence, this paper aims to investigate a patient’s case to identify causes and recommend recovery interventions.

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The case presents a story of a young girl named Beth who has experienced sexual abuse from her father since she was a toddler. Nor the counselor nor her mother believed she was exposed to assault. Therefore, she experienced dissociation and used writing as a means of escape from reality. Upon reaching 18, Beth moved to her friend’s house, but her isolation and self-blame led her to alcohol abuse. As her amount and frequency of alcohol consumption have increased, she experiences more anxiety when the effects of alcohol wear off. Now, she also uses anti-anxiety benzodiazepine medications like Xanax to control her pressure and discovers that she still needs to consume alcohol. At the moment, Beth’s only social support consists of a friend she lives with.

Her primary behavioral strategy was self-isolation in order to avoid any contact with her parents. Since she lost trust in her mother’s support, Beth started feeling anxious and lost trust in her parents. Besides, she chose to drink alcohol as a coping strategy which could help to avoid the emergence of emotions and intrusive memories. Even though she was trying to pursue her work in the arts, she could not give up on alcohol.

Apart from Beth’s social isolation and dissociation from her parents, there is a risk of other co-occurring disorders’ emergence. For instance, she could develop substance abuse if her pain is no longer relieved by alcohol. Meanwhile, these types of abuse are typically combined which leads to fatal outcomes (Campbell et al., 2018). Apart from that, Beth is exposed to lowered self-esteem and shame, which will further lead her to experience a social anxiety disorder (Dworkin & Schumacher). The mentioned disorder is characterized by reluctance and fear of talking to people and mistrust.

Some potential barriers could impede Beth’s improvement and recovery from her childhood trauma. The primary factor is fear since she may not feel ready to accept new reality without assaults and alcohol abuse (Ascienzo et al., 2021). Moreover, the sense of denial can be the second impediment because Beth could prefer living in her world. She may not realize the need to give up on drinking and deny any help from others. Self-defensiveness is another reason why people cannot experience personal growth (Ascienzo et al., 2021). Beth may guard herself against honest criticism or mere opinions, which may delay changes in her life.

Nevertheless, it is possible for Beth to make drastic changes in life by making efforts and resorting to the best traits. Beth’s ability to perform decent writing and artistic skills can help her express emotions and move her forward. Apparently, being very creative is helpful in letting emotions off and can be used as a therapeutic method. These abilities canals help her find a job so that she could provide herself with all the commodities.

In order to fully recover, Beth needs to have therapeutic sessions. Since sexual assault results in severe mental and physical trauma, these sessions must be conducted on a regular basis to ensure recovery progress. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is evidence-based psychotherapy or counseling that addresses the needs of children and adults with PTSD and other difficulties associated with traumatic life events (Dworkin & Schumacher).

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This type of therapy allows for the reduction of children’s negative mental and behavioral responses to trauma. It also helps to correct maladaptive attributes related to the traumatic experience (Ascienzo et al., 2021). Since Beth’s parents do not keep in touch with her, only she needs to see a therapist. The sessions should be held frequently, at least two times a week for approximately a year, depending on the progress.

In addition, a period of controlled medical detoxification may be required to ensure the safety and comfort of the individual to fight alcohol abuse. Disulfiram is a medication for treating alcoholism that has proven its effectiveness and was approved by the FDA (Campbell et al., 2018). This detoxication remedy makes one get sick while drinking so that they cannot drink more. Besides, Beth can resort to local support services to receive help from medical workers and attend psychological group sessions.

In conclusion, it is vital to mention the severity of the sexual or any other kind of assault. The traumas individuals experienced in childhood result in post-traumatic stress disorder, which is further complicated by numerous co-occurring symptoms. Hence, sexual assault victims are typically treated by multifaceted interventions, including both therapeutic methods and medical remedies. There is a possibility that a patient can recover from trauma if they have the willingness and do not resist changes.

References

Ascienzo, S., Sprang, G., & Royse, D. (2021). Gender differences in the PTSD symptoms of polytraumatized youth during isolated phases of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Web.

Campbell, E.J., Lawrence, A.J. & Perry, C.J. (2018). New steps for treating alcohol use disorder. Psychopharmacology, 235, 1759–1773. Web.

Dworkin, E. R., & Schumacher, J. A. (2018). Preventing posttraumatic stress related to sexual assault through early intervention: A systematic review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 19(4), 459–472. Web.

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