Sexual Abuse Takes Toll on Victims

Mayo Clinic MD and Abuse Survivor Describe Physical Manifestations of Emotional Suffering

TEMPE, AZ--(Marketwire - July 21, 2009) - As if women who suffer from sexual abuse don't have enough challenges in healing and moving on with their lives, there is now evidence that their abuse may manifest itself with seemingly unrelated physical ailments.

According to Dr. Larry Bergstrom, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, there is a real danger of physical illness related to the emotional stress of being a victim of sexual abuse, including ailments such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and even cancer.

"I've seen in my own practice that about 75 percent of my patients who suffer from fibromyalgia all have sexual abuse in their past," Dr. Bergstrom said. "It's common for victims of sexual abuse to develop problems trusting people in their lives, so they develop perfectionist personalities, which leads to extreme stress."

No one knows this better than Trish Kinney, who was raised in a sexually abusive environment, which she believes led to her developing a cancerous tumor. Kinney, author of "Silver Platter Girl," from Seven Locks Press (, absolutely knows there was a relationship between her abuse and her cancer.

"There is a difference between knowing the truth and telling it," she said. "It's crushing to comprehend that a member of one's own family is capable of such an act, but even more crushing when a victim finally empowers herself to talk about it, and the family refuses to believe her. It is the victim who is sacrificed, who is accused of lying, for the continued empowerment and control of the abuser with no regard for truth or consequences of such behaviors."

But telling is the single most important thing an abused woman can do, Kinney added.

"Every time an abuser chooses to abuse a victim, he takes a chance that he will be exposed, that the victim will tell," she said. "The dynamics of abuse usually protect the abuser and assure the continued silence of the frightened, intimidated victim. But when the victim tells, the abuser loses power. And an abuser without power cannot hurt anyone."

About Trish Kinney

Trish Kinney is an award winning documentary filmmaker, actress, dancer and choreographer. She is well known for speaking out about her amazing recovery from cancer and the profound impact of the mind/body connection.

Contact Information: Contact: Rachel Friedman