For First Time Visitors

If you are a first time visitor to this blog, I invite you to start from the beginning, especially if you are unfamiliar with the potential emotional impact of long-term child abuse.

Trigger caution to unhealed survivors!

Understanding the Incomprehensible

Children of incest or long-term sexual abuse grow up to be wounded adults with complicated emotional issues. Unfortunately, some symptoms are misinterpreted or often dismissed as "crazy", only serving to maintain a tormented victim status. We, as a society, have the power to change this dynamic. Each of us can make a difference.

Sep 6, 2008

Prevalence of DID & limited resources to heal

Most texts cite the probability of DID as 1 in 100. In grad school I was taught, "It is highly unlikely you will ever see a case of DID; and if you do, you'll want to transfer the client to another therapist who has special training." Let's look at the facts.
Sexual abuse most commonly occurs by an individual known by the victim, parent or other family member (intrafamilial). Rarely is the abuser a stranger. Children who become brave enough to overcome the threats and coercion to remain silent may decide to recant accusations of abuse due to fear of retaliation by the perpetrator or other family members. They may also recant out of fear of losing contact with the perpetrator who is commonly a family member or close friend tied to the family by various social means. (The double bind of "I love you"/"I hate you.")

Incest victims are mostly unreported so are not included in the statistic for reported abuse. Of reported cases:

33% of sexual abuse victims are under age 6
33% are 6-12 years old
33% are 12-18 years old.

RAINN Organization* (Excellent website/resource)
In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.
  • Of these, 75% were girls.
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.
Survivors' Healing Center
Data from 2002 National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) indicates that approximately 4.6 million children were reported to child protective service agencies as purported victims of child maltreatment. Of that number over 88,000 children were documented as sexually abused.

At the community level, epidemiology studies of adults have found that 15 to 33% of females and 13 to 16% of males were sexually abused in childhood.

Different studies use different methodology for their statistics. The statistic found to be most on target in the community of therapists who treat survivors of sexual abuse, is 1 in 4 women are victims of sexual assault. Even for adults, rape is more often someone known to the victim.

The entirety of incest victims will always be unknown because of the secrecy factor. A statistic cited in this blog's second post is:
Some estimates show 20 million Americans have been victimized by parent incest as children. (Jeffrey Turner, 1996). As cited at the website for The National Center for Victims of Crime. is estimated there is one pedophile for every square mile in our country, everywhere from big cities to small rural communities.

Given the enormity of the prevalence of incest survivors and abuse statistics for those under age 12, it is more probable that DID exists in closer to 1 out of every 10-20 incest survivors. In populations such as those seeking counseling through YWCAs and other survivor centers, the statistics are prone to be higher for a therapist to have someone present with DID.

While many therapists claim they have never seen a case of DID, it is more likely the therapist is not trained to identify symptoms and therefore "does not see". In addition, because of lack of training, even if someone did see signs of dissociation, the treating individual might be inclined to treat the person as if dissociation were not present. For those therapists who recommend the patient see someone who does treat dissociation, there are insufficient numbers of therapists in many areas of the country to treat the number of survivors.

Kudos to schools open to education to identify dissociation in children, which is relatively easy to spot in the classroom. Again, however, the societal problem is lack of qualified therapists to treat the child. Part of this unwillingness of therapists to be trained to assess and treat dissociation are the efforts of the media and groups such as the FMSF who have targeted experts in the field for lawsuits and shattered their lives and careers.

On the positive side, excellent training is available through organizations such as ISSTD. Sometimes therapists who first encounter DID are willing to learn as they go. A therapist willing to learn on behalf of the client is how many enter the field of dissociation.

For survivors unsure about whether they might be dissociative, Marlene Steinberg's book, Stranger in the Mirror, has an excellent section of self evaluations. It's a good safe start, although admittedly disarming if you score in the range of likely dissociation. Remember that symptoms may not mean dissociation or DID for you. Symptoms may go with another issue. Don't make any immediate assumptions about yourself until you are able to speak with a qualified therapist.

1 comment:

Secret Shadows said...

I am a teacher with a Masters Degree in Special Education: Emotional Behavior Disorders. I have over 13 years experience teaching in public and private schools, and unfortunately we still have quite a ways to go in educating teachers in the area of child sexual abuse and the emotional difficulties these children face. I had an experience two years ago with a particular school that really brought this to the forefront in my mind that we are just not educating our educators enough. If I could do more in that area I would, but I am still not at a place in my healing where I can do that and maintain my stability.

One more thing, if you don't mind (off topic).....I saw on your page somwhere, though it's not here now, that you were looking for survivor artwork. I wanted you to know that you can use some of mine. It is all displayed on my blog under the category Art Therapy. You have my permission to choose any 3 or 4 and just right click and choose "Save As" and have a copy on your computer to import to your slideshow. Let me know if you use any. I'd be interested in which ones you pick.
~Secret Shadows