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"Post-Incest Syndrome" in Women: The Incest Survivors' Aftereffects Checklist

by E. Sue Blume, C.S.W., 1990, courtesy of WINGS Foundation

  • 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 feelings).
  • 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; arthritis.
  • 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); self-destruction.
  • Phobias.
  • Need to be invisible, perfect or perfectly bad.
  • Suicidal thoughts, attempts, obsession, including "passive suicide".
  • Depression (sometimes paralyzing); seemingly baseless crying.
  • 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; trusting indiscriminately.
  • 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.


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