Day 21 of the One Dress 30 Days campaign to raise awareness of the pandemic problem of child sex trafficking.
The effects of trauma, such as the severe sexual abuse inherent in sex slavery, run deeply and intensely. One common aftershock is the range of anxiety disorders, which can debilitate the survivor for years or even decades. According to the National Institue of Mental Health, such disorders usually last at least six months and get worse over time if they are not treated. Silver and teal represent sex trafficking victims who suffer with anxiety disorders.
There are six common types of anxiety disorders, and survivors may have two or more diagnoses concurrently. Although there are similarities across the spectrum, each has its distinctive characteristics. All can be brought on by previous trauma which is triggered by some current stress.
- Sudden attacks of terror
- Pounding heart, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, dizziness
- Possible flushing or feeling chilled
- Hands may tingle or feel numb
- Nausea, chest pains, smothering sensations
- Sense of impending doom or fear of losing control
- May be accmpanied by depression, or drug and alcohol abuse
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Persistent upsetting thoughts called obsessions
- Use of rituals, or compulsive acts, to control or defuse the anxiety that the thoughts produce
- A “superstitious” mindset directs the behaviors, with increased anxiety if they are not followed “properly”
- The thoughts and rituals can become all-consuming and invade every part of an individual’s life.
- May be combined with eating disorders, depression, or other anxiety disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Develops after a terrifying ordeal which happened to an individual or loved one, or was witnessed by the individual
- Must last for at least one month
- Senstive startle response
- Emotional numbness or increased irritability, aggressiveness or violence
- Loss of interest in previous pleasures
- Flashbacks of abuse and trauma incidences
- Avoidance of events, people, or locations which are similar to the abuse scenarios
Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)
- Overwhelming anxiousness, excessive self-consciousness in every day social situations
- Intense, persistent, chronic fear of being watched and judge by others
- Fear of doing something inappropriate or being incompetent in social situations
- Extreme worry about possible negative consequences prior to an event
- Keen sensitivity to the judgment and disapproval of others
- Blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea and difficulty talking
- Realization that fears are excessive or unreasonable, with inability to overcome them
- Intense, irrational fear of something not related to actual danger
- The fear may be inconsistent (fear of tall buildings, but able to mountain ski or hike)
- Irrationalness may be recognized, but even thinking about the feared object may bring on panic attacks
- May include things like heights, strangers, closed or open spaces, water, animals, stairs or escalators
- Feared things may be avoided if possible, which may or may not interfere with jobs and home life.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Intense, persistent, exaggerated worry
- Sleeping and concentration problems
- Excessive worry about a variety of everyday situations for at least six months
- Inability to relax, intensified startle reflex
- Fatugue, headaches, muscle tension and aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, nausea, dizziness, hot flashes
Women are more likely to exhibit the anxiety disorders than men, except for OCD and social phobias which occur at about the same rate for both sexes. Assessment of the estimated number affected for each gender in the United States reveals some interesting comparisons.
- Panic disorder: 4 million women, 2 million men
- OCD: 1.1 million women, 1.1 million men
- PTSD: 4 million women, 3.7 million men*
- Social Phobia: 7.5 million women and 7.5 million men
- Specific Phobias: 13 million women and 6.2 million men
- GAD: 4.5 million women and 2.3 million men
This comes to 34.1 million women and 22.8 million men beset with some type of anxiety disorder. Allowing that there is overlap with an undefined group who have more than one issue, this could translate to about one out of every three or four women and one out of every five or six men who suffer severe anxiety.
Current research indicates that child sexual abuse victims account for about one out of three females and one out of six males. Obviously there are many other causes for the anxiety disorders, such as combat, natural disasters, physical or emotional abuse, or illnesses. However, it is notable, without being conclusive, that the percentage of the child sexual abuse survivors come out to roughly the same as those with anxiety disorders.
The good news is that the ramifications of most of these disorders can be mitigated through therapy. The bad news is that the hand-in-glove issues of sexual abuse and subsequent mental health disruptions through anxiety disorders are rampant and debilitating issues within our country.
*(Website indicated “women are more likely to develop PTSD” so breakdown is a guestimate)
Find out more about the One Dress 30 Days campaign to raise awareness for StreetLight Phoenix and child sex trafficking. Even though April is over, donations to StreetLight can still be made on behalf of the campaign.
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