sexual abuse, man holding woman pinned to the floor- causes PTSD

Abuse Causes Future Weight Problems

It's hard to even look at that photo above of sexual abuse. It's even harder to recover from sexual assault. It causes life long negative effects of PTSD (post-traumatic-stress-disorder) to health and can include weight gain. 

The ACE Study

abused little girl covering hear ears so not to hear someone screaming at her- can cause obesity in her adult life

In the ACE Study of "Adverse Childhood Experiences" researchers discovered that a high percentage of people who are a higher weight have a history of trauma and abuse in their childhood. Dr. Vincent Feletti who lead this frequently replicated study was shocked at his findings. He found a very large percentage of large bodied people suffered from sexual abuse from ages birth to six years old. Are you shocked? Were you abused?

Victims of childhood sexual abuse are so damaged by their assaults that it disrupts a person's entire psychology and metabolism causing a large percentage of them to become obese adults.  Knowing that alone should shut up fat-shamers! 

Sexual Abuse of Adult Women

The "Me Too" movement has made it abundantly clear that practically ALL women have stories to tell about harassment, sexual harassment and sexual abuse at the hands of men. I can tell you that "Me too" applies to me, numerous times. 

First of all, NO ONE should accept living in a relationship where they are being abused. PLEASE get in touch with this organization for free and immediate help.

There are shelters for battered women where you can go to be safe so no one needs to stay with an abuser. 

Judges Punishing Victims instead of Perpetrators

It's clear from the sentencing of young men and others who rape and assault women that many judges prefer to give the male the benefit of doubt. I read a book by the young woman who was assaulted by a college athlete when he raped her behind a dumpster outside a home where she had attended a party. The judge didn't want to "ruin his life" because of a "mistake." Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence- and women are victimized twice. We must bring awareness to this issue and warn our friends and daughters to be vigilant and REPORT these men.

Sexual Assault Causes PTSD and Weight Gain

While it is very clear that adverse childhood experiences can be responsible for many terrible chronic conditions in the child the effects are lasting as they grow into an adult. One of the effects is weight gain. 

However, having a wonderful, normal childhood and then being sexually abused as an adult can have the effect of PTSD leading to significant weight gain.

Psychologists who work with women who developed PTSD from the assault have found that there is a significant weight gain in many of these women. 

How exactly does PTSD lead to weight gain? The biological pathway is unknown, but scientists have a number of guesses. One is through the over-activation of stress hormones. PTSD may lead to disturbances in functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system, each of which is involved in regulating a broad range of body processes, including metabolism. Another is through unhealthy behavior patterns that may be used to cope with stress. Ongoing research is looking at whether PTSD increases women’s preference for processed foods and decreases the likelihood of their exercising.

Stress Affects Your Weight

When I work with people who are unhappy with their size and want to lose weight, my first questions are about when they started gaining weight. Invariably, there was a stressful event in their lives that preceded their weight gain.

Stress not only sends people for the refrigerator to eat “comfort foods”, but also changes your biology. Chronic stress slows down your metabolism, and your body makes multiple changes designed to make you able to survive. Fight flight, or flee, the stress response will slow down and stop digestion, and all other normal body functions until the stress is over. For humans with chronic stress, the evidence is seen in belly fat and illnesses.

For victims of sexual assault it is thought that body fat is unconsciously thought of as protection keeping predators away from you physically by being unattractive and also literally keeping people further away from you. 

Getting Help for PTSD

What’s the answer to obesity and overweight? The first thing you will need to do is look into your past and try to see what started your weight gain. Was it past abuse, a stressful event in your life? Are you still stressed, or living in an abusive situation? If so, please seek help. PTSD is a terrible way to live and there are new treatments that are showing great promise to help you!

Don’t expect that your body will be able to lose weight and maintain that weight loss until you are able to relieve your stress. If you have a negative mindset, and hate your body, and are dieting you are sabotaging your ability to lose weight and keep it off. Honestly, even with treatment that helps you manage your stress it may not help you to maintain weight loss. 

Yes, abuse from others can be damaging. But self-abuse of negative self-talk and mindset can also contribute to weight gain. ALWAYS be kind and compassionate with yourself. 

dog licking the face of an owner- unconditional love even if you are fat

Love yourself unconditionally- just like your dog loves you!


Abuse + weight, Mindset

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