Abuse lawyer, Liz Duncan, examines the links between sexual abuse and mental health, explaining that compensation from a legal claim can be used to enable the survivor to access specialist therapy and counselling to aid their recovery
The Mental Health Foundation is reporting that nearly two thirds of us will experience mental health problems at some time, with only 13% of the population living with high levels of good mental health.
Mental health issues are a particular concern for the survivors of sexual abuse. They are often left believing that their bodies are not their own, experiencing strong feelings of shame and guilt. These emotions can be made worse when a victim of abuse has to disclose their experiences to the police, particularly if this leads to a criminal prosecution of the abuser.
Mental health problems associated with sexual abuse commonly include the following:-
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal feelings
- Nightmares & flashbacks
Evidence also suggests that sexual abuse can cause or exacerbate Borderline Personality Disorders and Bipolar Disorder.
Statistically, children who suffer sexual abuse are significantly more likely to be abused again later in life. They are also more likely to become involved in drug abuse, experience problems with alcohol and have difficulty forming positive personal relationships. In fact it has been suggested that victims of sexual abuse are over 20 times more likely to develop a drug or alcohol related problem.
Recovery from the trauma of sexual abuse can be a long and difficult road. It is therefore important that survivors are able to access the specialist forms of treatment that are available to assist people in this position.
There are now various therapies on offer to abuse survivors which have a proven track record of success. These include the following:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, which is designed to help retrain the brain to deal problems such as panic attacks and substance abuse
- Exposure Therapy. This is used in relation to specific ‘triggers’ such as smells or locations
- Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing Therapy, or EMDR, which is used to help us process traumatic memories
Regrettably these therapies are expensive and given the funding problems faced by the NHS they can be difficult to access.
However, one of the benefits of pursuing a legal claim is that the compensation package can include much needed funding for specialist therapies and expert counselling. Whether it’s a claim against the abuser, an organisation (such as an employer, a local authority or a school) or through the state funded criminal injuries scheme, compensation can be obtained to pay for the medical treatment required to enable the victim to recover from their ordeal.
Although financial compensation can never take away the pain of something as traumatic as sexual abuse, it can go a long way to helping the victim come to terms with what has happened and equip them to lead full and enjoyable lives going forward.
If you would like to discuss how a compensation claim may help you in recovering from the trauma of sexual abuse then please contact our confidential helpline for free initial advice.
Call us on Freephone 0808 139 1597 or email Liz Duncan direct at [email protected].