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Syndrome" in Women: The Incest Survivors' Aftereffects
by E. Sue Blume, C.S.W., 1990, courtesy of WINGS
- Fear of being alone in the dark,
of sleeping alone, nightmares, night terrors (especially
of pursuit, threat, entrapment).
- Swallowing and gagging sensitivity; repugnance
to water on face when bathing or swimming (suffocation
- Alienation from body--not at home in own body;
failure to heed signals of body or take care of
it; poor body image; avoiding physical attention.
- Gastrointestinal problems; GYN disorders; headaches;
- Wearing a lot of clothing, even in summer; baggy
clothes; failure to remove clothing even when appropriate
to do so; extreme privacy.
- Eating disorders, drug/alcohol abuse (or total
abstinence); other addictions; compulsive behaviors
- Skin carving, self-abuse (physical pain is manageable);
- Need to be invisible, perfect or perfectly bad.
- Suicidal thoughts, attempts, obsession, including
- Depression (sometimes paralyzing); seemingly
- Anger issues: inability to recognize,
own or expresss anger; fear of actual or imagined
rage; constant anger; intense hostility toward
entire gender or ethnic group of the perpetrator.
- Splitting (depersonalization); going into shock,
shutdown in crisis; stressful situation is always
a crisis; psychic numbing.
- Rigid control of thought process;
humorless or extreme solemnity.
- Childhood hiding, hanging on, cowering in corners
(security seeking behaviors); adult nervousness
over being watched or surprised.
- Trust issues: inability to trust; too total trust;
- High risk taking ("daring the
fates"); inability to take risks.
- Boundary issues; control, power,
territorial issues; fear of losing control; obsessive/compulsive
behaviors (attempt to control).
- Guilt/shame/low self-esteem/feeling worthless.
- Pattern of being a victim, especially
sexually; no sense of own power or right to set
limits or say "no"; pattern of relatinships with
much older persons.
- Feeling demand to "produce and
be loved"; instinctively anticipating others' wants.
- Abandonment issues.
- Blocking out some period of early years (especially
1-12) or a specific person or place.
- Limited tolerance for happiness; active withdrawal
from or reluctance to trust happiness.