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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5418
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I was sexually abused when I was little for about 7yrs or so

Resolved Question:

I was sexually abused when I was little for about 7yrs or so and recently I have been having a flashback over and over again. I can't stop washing my face and mouth, I have done it until it hurts but still feel like I need to keep cleaning it. How can I stop scrubing my face and feel clean? Or will I ever feel clean
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hello, and thank you for the request.

I am so sorry to hear that you were abused. Abuse is a terrifying and horrific ordeal and the effects can last into adulthood without treatment.

It sounds like you might be experiencing the symptoms of PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It occurs when you suffer a trauma of any type and can include the symptoms you described- flashbacks and the cleaning behavior. The cleaning behavior itself is probably as a result of the psychological need to get the attackers touch off you. It also could have been that you were forced to have oral sex with someone and this memory is just coming through now through the flashbacks. This would trigger your actions as a symbol of what occurred.

I encourage you to seek therapy for what you have been through. If you need to find a therapist, ask your doctor for a referral. Or you can search on line at http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/.

You can also address this at home through self help. The more you understand why you are having these symptoms, the easier it will be to reduce or eliminate them. Here are some resources to help you:

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm


http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/post-traumatic-stress-disorder


You may also want to join support groups to help you talk with others that have experienced the same kind of abuse. Talking to others can help you feel less alone and provide answers to why you feel as you do. Here are some links to help:

http://ptsd.supportgroups.com/

https://www.ptsdforum.org/c/portal/

You will be able to stop having flashbacks and washing yourself. It just takes some time to work through your feelings. Therapy and self help will make a difference.

Take care,
Kate

If you are happy with your answer, please rate me three stars or above. And if you have further questions, click the continue the conversation button. Thank you!

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Is there anything you can suggest for the short term because I feel like I have scrubbed the skin off my face and my mouth is raw inside from rinseing it out with rubbing alcohol.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

The behavior you have is trauma driven. That means whatever happened to you may have been repressed and is now coming out through the flashbacks and scrubbing yourself, which is anxiety based. It is your mind's way of coping. In order to address this in the short term, you might want to try some anxiety reducing techniques:

These supplements can help you relax (talk to your doctor before trying these, just to be sure):
100 Magnesium Glysinate
100 Calcium
10 mg. Zinc
1000 Omega 3

Also, when you feel like scrubbing, find alternative behaviors that you can use to distract yourself. Make a list of things you can do instead so you don't have to try to think of them on the spot. Anything you feel is distracting enough like playing a favorite song very loudly, making a cup of tea, calling a friend, etc.

Try relaxation techniques. There is something called progressive relaxation that may help. Here is a link:

http://www.guidetopsychology.com/pmr.htm

Most of all, make it a priority to see a therapist. If you can't see one within the next week, make an appointment with your doctor and try medication until you can see a therapist.

Kate

 

May I please request that if you find the answers helpful at all that you rate me with three or more stars? Anything lower results in a negative against my record (ratings are confusing, sorry!). Thank you so much!

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5418
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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