Deborah was fourteen years old when she entered a residential treatment facility for bulimia with anorexic symptoms, along with drug dependency. During her initial phase of treatment, she remembered a traumatic memory that had been repressed for years. When Deborah was on a family vacation with her family at age 11 years, she was sexually assaulted by a group of unknown predators. As she had repressed this memory, she had told no one about the event, and had received no social support or an outlet to express and heal her pain resulting from the trauma.
After four years in the residential facility, Deborah came to us for treatment still plagued with body shame, self-blame and bulimic symptoms. She blamed herself for the sexual trauma, feeling she was responsible as she was without adult supervision at the time, and perceiving she had led the abusers on by being too nice. The self blame was not surprising considering her early mistaken decisions or interpretations about herself . From an early age Deborah believed that everything was always "her fault." By the age of eighteen she had completely dissociated from her body, denying her femininity and unwilling to embrace her womanly sexuality.
She had severe issues in her interpersonal relationships and achieving intimacy, particularly in romantic relationships, and was unable to feel deserving or derive pleasure from these interactions. In treatment Bipolar Disorders Therapeutics Market size, we first helped Deborah to reframe her negative self image and alter distorted perceptions surrounding the traumatic event, helping her to counteract shameful thoughts about her body and to cease self-blame. Her binging behaviour was a way to metaphorically 'fill herself up' emotionally and subsequently push out and occlude some of her feelings of disgust and self-loathing. To counteract this behaviour, therapy included generating positive self affirmations to combat her negative feelings towards herself and her body.
To deal with the emotional aspects of the trauma and eating disorder, we also engaged in a variety of experiential and body-oriented techniques with Deborah. The therapeutic technique of psychodrama was utilized to give her a sense of power over her abuser and the abusive scenario. Through yoga and movement exercises, she learned to better connect with her body and learn that it was okay to move and "feel" her body. Finally, after a few years, therapeutic touch was used to show Deborah that she could accept and be touched lovingly in a non-abusive way, and that being touched was not something to be feared.
At the end of our work together, Deborah was able to be rid of her bulimic symptoms and reported feeling a greater sense of love and acceptance towards her body. By working through issues surrounding her traumatic sexual experience, Deborah was able to better understand and ameliorate much of her eating disordered behaviour and to learn how to deal with her emotions in a healthier way. This case study is only one example of the impact of sexual assault or trauma that resulted in an eating disorder.
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