Checklist for PTSD Aftereffects of Incest & Childhood Sexual Abuse

Before I get too far into my story, I wanted to share this list I found of PTSD symptoms associated with the aftereffects of incest and childhood sexual abuse.  I was shocked to find that I exhibit 25 of the 37 characteristics.  When I read #2, I was shocked –  I have always wondered why I am that way.

 

“This Checklist is based on an original list by New York Women Against Rape, as well as extensive observation of and communication with survivors.”

1. Fear of being alone in the dark, of sleeping alone; nightmares (especially of rape, pursuit, threat, entrapment, blood); night terrors

2. Swallowing and gagging sensitivity; repugnance to water on face when bathing or swimming (suffocation feelings)

3. Poor or distorted body image; alienation from, not at home in, failure to heed signals or take care of body; manipulating body size to avoid sexual attention; compulsive cleanliness, incl. bathing in scalding water; or, total inattention to personal appearance or hygiene

4. Somatization, stress-related diseases: gastrointestinal problems, GYN disorders (including spontaneous vaginal infections); headaches; arthritis/joint pain; fibromyalgia. Also internal scarring. Aversion to doctors (esp. gynecologists, dentists)

5. Wearing a lot of clothing, even in summer; baggy clothes; failure to remove clothing even when appropriate to do so (while swimming, bathing, sleeping); extreme requirement for privacy when using bathroom

6. Addictions, eating disorders, drug/alcohol overuse/abuse/or total abstinence; compulsive behaviors (including busyness)

7. Self-injury (cutting, burning, etc.) (physical pain is manageable) (this is an addictive pattern); self-destructiveness

8. Phobias, panic, anxiety

9. Need to be invisible, perfect, or perfectly bad

10. Suicidal thoughts, attempts, obsession (including passive suicide)

11. Depression (sometimes paralyzing); seemingly baseless crying; sadness

12. Anger issues: inability to recognize, own or express anger; rage; fear of rage (actual or imagined); constant anger; misdirected anger, intense hostility toward entire gender or ethnic group (race) of the perpetrator

13. PTSD symptoms, including shock or shutdown in crisis (stressful situation always = crisis); psychic numbing. ìHystericalî symptoms: physical pain, paralysis, numbness associated with particular memory, emotion (e.g. anger) or situation (e.g. sex). See also “flashbacks” in item 26.

14. Rigid control of thought process; humorlessness or extreme solemnity

15. Childhood hiding, hanging on, cowering in corners (security-seeking behaviors); adult nervousness over being watched or surprised; feeling watched; startle response; hypervigilance

16. Inability to trust (trust is not safe); absolute trust that turns to rage when disappointed; trusting indiscriminately

17. High risk taking (ìdaring the fatesî); inability to take risks

18. Control, power, territoriality issues; fear of losing control; obsessive/compulsive behaviors (attempts to control things that don’t matter, just to control something!); power/sex confusion (see also #27)

19. Guilt/ shame/ low self-esteem/ feeling worthless/ high appreciation of small favors by others

20. Pattern of being a victim (victimizing oneself after being victimized by others), especially sexually; no sense of own power or right to set limits or pattern of relationships with much older or more powerful persons (onset in adolescence); OR exaggerated sense of entitlement; revictimization by others (adult sexual violence, including sexual exploitation by bosses and professionals

21. Must produce to be loved; instinctively knowing, doing what the others need or want; relationships = big tradeoffs

22. Disturbances in attachment; abandonment issues; desire for relationships with no separateness; avoidance/fear of intimacy

23. Dissociation: blocking out some period of early years , specific person, place, event; creating fantasy worlds, identities (incl. women imagining self to be male, = not a victim); Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (was MPD)

24. Feeling of carrying an awful secret; urge to tell/ fear of its being revealed; certainty that no-one would listen. Being generally secretive. Feeling marked (the scarlet letter)

25. Feeling crazy; feeling different; feeling oneself to be unreal and everyone else to be real, or vice versa; cognitive problems

26. Denial (no awareness); repression of memories; pretending; minimizing (it wasn’t that bad); strong, deep, inappropriate negative reactions to a person, place or event; flashbacks, which may occur as dreams, or sensory flashes (a brief image or feeling) with no meaning; or memories of surrounding details but not event or identity of abuser. Memory often begins with least threatening event or abuser. Details of experience may never be fully or accurately known, but much recovery is possible without full recall. Your inner guide will release memories at the pace you can handle (see also #13, #23)

27. Sexual issues: sex feels dirty aversion to being touched; strong aversion to (or need for) particular sex acts; feeling betrayed by one’s body; trouble integrating sexuality and emotionality; confusion or overlapping of affection/ sex/ dominance/ aggression/ violence; having to pursue power in sexual arena which is actually sexual acting out (self-abuse, manipulation [esp. women]; abuse of others [esp. men]); compulsively seductive, or compulsively asexual; must be sexual aggressor, or cannot be; impersonal, promiscuous sex with strangers concurrent with inability to have sex in intimate relationship (conflict between sex and caring); prostitute, stripper, sex symbol (Marilyn Monroe), porn actress; sexual acting out to meet anger or revenge needs; sexual addiction; avoidance; shutdown; crying after orgasm; pursuit feels like violation; sexualizing of all meaningful relationships; erotic response to abuse or anger, sexual fantasies of dominance/ real rape (results in guilt and confusion); teenage pregnancy. Note: Homosexuality is not an aftereffect!

28. Pattern of ambivalent or intensely conflictual relationships (abuse is familiar; also, in true intimacy, issues are more likely to surface; in problem relationships, focus can be shifted from real issue of incest). Note: Partner of survivor often suffers consequences of Post-Incest Syndrome also (especially sex and relationship issues)

29. Avoidance of mirrors (connected with invisibility, shame/self-esteem issues; distorted perceptions of face or body, DID)

30. Desire to change one’s name (to dis-associate from the perpetrator or take control through self-labeling)

31. Limited tolerance for happiness; active withdrawal from/ reluctance to trust happiness

32. Aversion to noise-making (including during sex, crying, laughing, or other body functions); verbal hypervigilance (careful monitoring of one’s words); quiet-voiced, especially when needing to be heard

33. Stealing (adults); fire-starting (children)

34. Food sensitivities/avoidance based on texture (mayonnaise) or appearance (hot dogs), which remind the survivor of abuse, or smell/sound which remind survivor of perpetrator; aversion to meat, red foods

35. Compulsive honesty or compulsive dishonesty (lying)

36. Hypervigilance regarding child abuse, or inability to see child abuse, or avoidance of any awareness or mention of child abuse; tendency to develop relationships with incest perpetrators

37. Personality disorders, characteristics; Psychiatric illness (NOTE: Post-Incest Syndrome is often misdiagnosed as these)

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Checklist for PTSD Aftereffects of Incest & Childhood Sexual Abuse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s