I believe our attitudes to abused women are medieval, archaic and inhuman. It seems as though a current climate of “ducking stool” mentality is rapidly eroding all the progress feminism, anthropology and sociology has made over the last 30 years.
Amazingly abuse specific knowledge is not mandatory for mental health professionals (Despite the fact well over 50% of long term users of mental health services are victims of abuse!). Many “professionals” claim they understand the issues however the gulf in understanding is enormous, and the only adequate training is given by overstretched charities. It is a failing, which kills! (Some people resort to suicide or alcoholism etc)
Yet the problems are complex and extend beyond just issues of ward organisation and access to psychotherapy.
The mental health system re-abuses and re-traumatises childhood trauma survivors by
a) Failing to see how the needs of child abuse survivors differ from other mental health patients
b) Inadvertently reproducing situations of powerlessness and lack of dignity replicating the original abuse
c) Failing to recognise Dissociation and complex PTSD type II as valid conditions.
And in so doing provides a smoke screen for society, by “erasing” individuals affected by abuse through damaging mental health labels, contributing to societal Stockholm syndrome and ultimately aiding society in denying the scale of the long term consequences of child abuse.
When treatment fails, rather than questioning the levels of training or appropriateness of certain therapies there is a tendency to blame the victim. A person who has been abused repeatedly is sometimes mistaken as someone who has a “weak character.” Because of their chronic victimization, in the past, survivors have been misdiagnosed by mental-health providers as having Borderline, Dependent, or Masochistic Personality Disorder. When survivors are faulted for the symptoms they experience as a result of victimization, they are being unjustly blamed. Researchers hope that a new diagnosis of Complex PTSD II will prevent clinicians, the public, and those who suffer from trauma from mistakenly blaming survivors for their symptoms.
The NCPCC refuses to align itself with the various Adult Survivor movements – assumedly because mental health is not the image they want (The crying children on the adds attracts more donations). They also have the Green FULL STOP logo. But for many survivors there is no FULL STOP – the damage is longstanding. There seems to be an enormous reluctance to face up to the long term effects of abuse – which if anything should highlight the importance of prevention.
I feel so passionately that all this needs exposing. This stuff very rarely hits the media because the people it affects are some of the most vulnerable in society, yet have the least credibility due to the “mad” label. Furthermore, many victims of the system believe that they don’t deserve any better (due to low self esteem) and so it goes unchallenged! Also as is probably evident some of the issues are highly complex.