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By Michelle Peterson

Recent studies have shown there is a link between sexual abuse and addiction. In fact, according to The Journal of Traumatic Stress, an alarming 90% of women who have alcohol addiction issues were the victims of sexual abuse. Other sources show that women who have experienced sexual trauma, whether they were sexually abused as children or traumatized, sexually assaulted, or raped as adults, are more likely to become addicts as they try to dampen their pain resulting from the sexual traumas. Of course, women are not the only ones who can become victims of sexual abuse. The most painful statistics of all show us that those who have addiction issues are more likely to become victims of sexual assault in the future, leading to a vicious cycle.

Now that we know there is a link between sexual abuse and addiction, it’s important to realize that we do have some power to help prevent the cycles of abuse and addiction. Here’s how we can all work together to combat it and reverse this concerning trend:

  1. PTSD Treatment
    Victims should be treated by a licensed professional for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and any other underlying symptoms or conditions that may have resulted from their sexual abuse.
  2. Addiction Recovery
    Those who have drug and/or alcohol addiction should be encouraged to seek treatment at a qualified addiction rehab clinic, including addiction recovery and support groups and a 12-step program whenever possible.
  3. Codependence & Family Coping
    Addiction and sexual abuse can become family problems. It’s important for loved ones to maintain their own self care and seek out support for codependence, such as support groups like Al-Anon, 12-step programs, or codependence books by author Melody Beattie.
    1. Maintaining Sobriety

Maintaining one’s sobriety post-treatment is a lifelong endeavor. The good news is there are steps one can take to make the transition to a sober life a little easier. First, choose your post-rehab home wisely. Make sure it isn’t near any hangouts or old friends that might tempt you into relapse. But make sure you’re new home is close to a support group, like AA, and a sober friend. This proximity will be a great help to you when you’re struggling. Get a routine, and stick to it. Having a schedule will help you avoid the idle time that could lead to relapse.

There are countless stories around the world of people who have experienced sexual abuse and later struggled with addiction as a result. These stories are unfortunately not unique. However, if we work together as a society, we can break the cycle and provide some hope of living in a world with less sexual abuse, trauma and addiction.

Michelle Peterson is passionate about sharing stories and information to inspire recovering addicts.

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