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Archive-name: dissoc-faq/part4
Last-modified: 1997/10/19
Posting-frequency: biweekly

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Section 4
Abuse and other Trauma

=== 4.0 Overview

In discussing dissociation, it is important to note that most
dissociation is a result of trauma or stress.  (The exceptions are
usually those people who deliberately/consciously dissociate for
reasons other than stress or trauma.)  Because of this, I wanted to
include a brief section on abuse, stress, and trauma.

=== 4.1 Abuse

Abuse comes in all sorts of different types, results in different
effects, and is both perpetrated by an experienced by people from every
age group, racial/ethnic group, religious group, country, gender, and
sexual orientation.  Abuse may be more common in some of these groups, as
well as more commonly perpetrated by people from some groups, but anyone
can abuse, and anyone can be abused.

A simplistic definition of abuse would be any action that is done to
someone without their full, informed consent.  I call this simplistic in
part because it fails to define what constitutes consent.

Generally speaking, abuse is harmful.  There are some actions that some
people may consider abusive, that subjectively may not seem harmful (to
either the perpetrator or the victim of the abuse).

It is thought that nearly 1/4 of all people in the U.S. have been (or
will be at some time in their life) abused in some way.  Since abuse is
often hidden both by the perpetrator and the victim, there is not
currently a realistic way to measure just how much abuse occurs, the
usual length of the such abuse, the gender of abused and abuser, and so
forth; many studies have been done on the issue and they have turned up
many conflicting answers.

*** 4.1.2 Different Types of Abuse

Abuse may be physical, emotional/verbal, sexual, ritualistic in nature,
religious, financial, or some combination of these.

Physical abuse is straight physical harm: beatings, whippings, punching,
hitting, kicking, scratching, slapping, and the like. (Non-consensual, of
course; the author wants to differentiate this from consensual whipping,
scratching, biting, and so forth.)

Sexual abuse is sexual actions done without one's partner's consent.
This ranges from feeling someone up without their consent to sexual
intercourse.  Sexual abuse is often combined with physical abuse, as in
violent rape.

Some people believe that all sexual contact with children is
automatically sexual abuse.  The definition of "child" in this case
varies, but it would seem most people agree that any pre-pubescent
individual is a child.

Some people believe that discussing sex in an inappropriate way,
particularly with a child, is sexual abuse; I might be more inclined to
call it emotional abuse, but it can in fact be abuse.

Sexual contact between two relatives is incest and is a form of sexual
abuse in some cases, such as a parent and its child.

Emotional/verbal abuse is somewhat harder to define, but a simplistic
definition would include name-calling, put-downs, and the like.
Consistently telling someone that they are worthless is emotional abuse,
for example.  Telling someone they are not worthy of love is emotional
abuse.  Withholding of affection is also emotional abuse.  Manipulation
of someone so that they do precisely what the manipulator wants is
emotional abuse.  ("If you loved me, you'd do x."  "If you don't do this,
you are worthless.")

Ritualistic abuse, usually for religious reasons, is said by many not to
exist; however, the author fully believes that it does.  Ritualistic
abuse is physical, sexual, or emotional abuse used in the context of a
religious rite, such as raping someone as part of the rite.

Religious abuse is not just ritualistic abuse, but also such things as
using religious tenets to excuse physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
Excusing one's physical abuse because the abuse victim is "evil", for
instance, would in this author's opinion be religious abuse as well as
physical abuse.

Financial abuse is controlling, through whatever means, someone's
financial resources, including money for food, clothing, shelter,
luxuries, and the like.  It is often accompanied by some other form of
abuse; for instance, forcing someone to sign their check over to the
perpetrator by beating that person.

*** 4.1.3 Effects of abuse

Abuse can leave both physical and mental scars on the victim.

Some physical effects include visible scars and mutilation, the inability
to bear or father children (or danger in bearing children), limps, and
even such extremes as missing limbs, blindness, or paralyzation. The most
extreme physical effect of abuse is death, and that does happen.

The mental effects are endless.

Most common are a low self-esteem and depression, sometimes short-lived,
other times pervasive and long-lasting.  Survivors of long-term abuse
also frequently experience anxiety/panic attacks, memory loss, flashbacks
of the abuse; the inability to form permanent, healthy relationships;
impaired sexual functioning; extreme fear and (self-imposed) social
isolation.  Dissociation is also a common effect of abuse, whether this
be mild or extreme.  Other neuroses and psychoses also have their root in

Childhood abuse, even when not particularly extreme, is often
subjectively much worse than abuse experienced as an adult.  Freqently,
abused children live much of their adult life disfunctional, due to the
depth of depression, extreme low self-esteem, and sometimes the extremity
of dissociation so common to abused children.  These children often grow 
up to have little or no sense of self-worth, and frequently turn to
self-mutilation, self-destructive behaviors such as addiction or the
(often subconscious) seeking out of abusive partners, excessive unhealthy
sexual behavior, and sometimes suicide.

=== 4.2 Trauma

Other types of trauma can lead to psychological problems; there is a
well-defined link between dissociation and trauma.

Traumatic events are purely subjective; what one person might be able to
deal with will send another into hysterics.  However, some common forms
of trauma include:

* Death of a lover/spouse, close friend, or family member.
* War, either as a soldier or a civilian.
* Destruction of one's home and possessions.
* Witnessing a violent crime, especially one perpetrated on 
  someone close to you.
* Being the victim of a violent crime.

Like abuse, trauma can result in severe depression, extreme dissociation,
amnesia, flashbacks, anxiety/panic attacks, and the like.  Depending on
the type of trauma (abuse being a specific subset of trauma, for
instance), other psychological disorders may develop.  Addiction to a
drug (including alcohol) is fairly prevalent in people who have suffered
a traumatic event.  PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a
long-lasting and severe effect of traumatic events.

*** 4.3.2 Stress

While most people can deal with a fairly large amount of stress without 
lasting psychological problems, it is possible for extreme and/or long-
lasting stress to produce problems similar to those experienced by people 
who have suffered from trauma.

I mention stress here only because it is known that extreme and/or long-
lasting stress can lead to dissociation in some degree; in fact, even a
small amount of stress can lead to mild, short-lived dissociation.

Section 5

=== 5.0 Overview

The following are various resources on dissociation, abuse, and other
topics covered by this FAQ.

=== 5.1 The Internet

The Internet offers a fairly large number of support groups on various
topics, including abuse, depression, and other things that might be of
interest to readers of  There are also some
places to go for information about these subjects.

*** 5.1.1 Newsgroups

There are a number of newsgroups that are, in some way, related to this
one; the abuse support groups, due to the large number of dissociative
people who have suffered abuse; the other support groups due to the
people who have other difficulties besides their dissociation.

* alt.sexual.abuse.recovery, commonly known as ASAR, is primarily for
survivors of sexual abuse.  Survivors of other forms of abuse have been
welcomed there, and discussion of non-sexual abuse is often found,
although many of the people there have suffered more than one typ eof
abuse.  The group also has SO's of people who have been abused, and even
a few people who have not been abused at all, but have some other
interest in reading the group.  PLEASE read the FAQ before posting to
ASAR, at least the section on posting etiquette.

* alt.abuse.recovery is for survivors of all forms of abuse, as well as
other people with abuse-related concerns.  To my knowledge there is not
currently a FAQ.

* alt.abuse.transcendence is for survivors of all forms of abuse, but is
modeled differently than ASAR and aar.  The newsgroup is very blunt and
discusses non-traditional approaches to dealing with the effects of
abuse.  Newcomers should be warned that a.a.t. does NOT use any spoilers 
of any kind.  There is a FAQ in progress for the group.

* is a group for SOs of abuse survivors, who
have a unique set of issues of their own.


I include these because of the large number of multiples (and abuse
survivors) who experience these difficulties.

* is a new group, currently of rather low
traffic, for people with personality disorders.  It would seem that BPD
(borderline personality disorder) is a common topic there.  People who do
not have personality disorders but who are dissociative may still find
the group to be of use to them.

Other groups in the* hierarchy may be of use to readers of
this group; a complete list is maintained by Jonathon Grohol and is
posted every 2 weeks to the support groups, including this one.

Groups outside of the* hierarchy:

* sci.psychology is general discussion of psychology

* sci.cognitive is discussion, among other things, of memory and
reasoning, and might be at least of academic interest to dissociatives
and/or abuse survivors.

* is a general support group for people experiencing
psychological difficulties.

I urge you to read a group for several weeks prior to posting to it,
as well as reading the FAQ for the newsgroup.

* **5.1.2 Web Sites

This section sucks rocks.  Eventually, I _will_ have a list of Web sites
here, I promise.  In the meantime, my own web pages have a slowly growing
link to psychological and/or abuse related information at the URL:

*** 5.1.3 IRC

#asar2 is the general ASAR channel, however, it is keyworded.  I will not
publish the keyword here, but if you are an ASAR reader, you should be
able to get someone to give it to you by posting on ASAR.

#aat is the probably defunct alt.abuse.transcendence channel.

#asar is also an ASAR channel, that is generally not keyworded, but
almost no one goes there.

#dissoc is the channel, although I don't know if
people still use it, frankly.

*** 5.1.4 MUDs

Yes, believe it or not, there _is_ a MUD that is appropriate for listing
here.  A MUD, for those of you who do not know, is a "multi-user
dungeon", and generally refers to a game of some sort; this, however, is
no game.  SANCTUARY MUD is a gathering place for abuse survivors, their
SOs, and other concerned parties; information on it can be found

SANCTUARY is reachable by telnetting to 3333 (which is also 3333)

=== 5.2 Publications

I make no claim as to the validity of the opinions presented in the books
and other publications that follow, but all of them have information on
the topic under which they are found.  Some of them may not be useful to
you, some of them may.  This is by no means a complete list of the
publications available, but it should get most people started.

*** 5.2.1 Books on Multiplicity

Clinical Perspectives on Multiple Personality Disorder by Richard P. 
  Kluft and Catherine G. Fine
Diagnosis and Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder (Foundations 
  of Modern Psychiatry) by Frank W. Putnam
I'm Eve [sequel to The 3 Faces of Eve], Chris Sizemore
Katherine, It's Time by Kit Castle and Stefan Bechtel
Living With Your Selves: A Survival Manual for People with Multiple 
  Personalities by Sandra J. Hocking
More Than One by Terri A. Clark, M.D.
Multiple Personality Disorder From the Inside Out by Barry Cohen,
  Esther Giller, and Lynn W.
Multiple Personality Disorder: Psychiatric Classification and Media 
  Influence (Oxford Monographs on Psychiatry, No. 1) by Carol S. North,
  Daniel A. Riu, Jo-Ellen M. Ryall, and Richard D. Wetzel
Multiple Personality Disorder: Diagnosis, Clinical Features, and Treatment 
  (Wiley Series in General and Clinical Psychiatry) by Colin A. Ross
Multiple Personality Gift: A Workbook for You and Your Inside Family 
  by Jacklyn M. Pia
Multiple Personality, Allied Disorders, and Hypnosis by Eugene L. Bliss
People in Pieces: Multiple Personality in Milder Forms and Greater Numbers 
  by Alana Marshall
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
The 3 Faces of Eve by Corbette H. Thigpen, M.D.,
   and Hervey M. Cleckley, M.D.
The Family Inside: Working with the Multiple by Doris Bryant, 
  Judy Kessler, and Lynda Shirar
The Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality 
  by Joan Frances Casey with Lynn Wilson
The Fractured Mirror: Healing Multiple Personality Disorder by C.W. Duncan
The Osiris Complex: Case Studies in Multiple Personality Disorder 
  by Colin A. Ross
The Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder (Clinical Insights 
  Monograph), Edited by Bennet G. Braun, M.D.
Thirteen Pieces: Life with a Multiple by Mary Locke
Through Divided Minds: Probing the Mysteries of Multiple Personalties
  --A Doctor's Story by Dr. Robert Mayer
Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder by Braun
United We Stand: A Book for People with Multiple Personalities 
  by Eliana Gil
When Rabbit Howls by The Troops for Truddi Chase
When the Bough Breaks by Mercedes Lackey and Holly Lisle (FICTION)

*** 5.2.2 Books on Dissociation

Trauma and Survival: Post-Traumatic and Dissociative Disorders
  in Women, by Elizabeth A. Waites

*** 5.2.3 Books on related topics

Please Don't Let Him Hurt Me Anymore: A self-help resource guide for
  women in abusive relationships by Alexis Asher

Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic
   by Donna Williams
Somebody Somewhere by Donna Williams

*** 5.2.4 Other Publications

** Publications about/for Dissociatives

* Many Voices (which I've been asked to add multiple times, but keep
forgetting), PO Box 2639, Cincinatti, OH, 45201-2639

* Dissociation, a quarterly journal; details below under ISSD information.

** Publications about/for Abuse Survivors

* S.O.F.I.E. (Survivors of Female Incest Emerge!)
* Truth about Abuse
[posted to a.s.dis, I forget by who]

S.O.F.I.E. is a bi-monthly newsletter
for men and women who were sexually abused as children by women.   Created
in 1992 as a support resource, it is the only one devoted to the subject
of women abusing children.  Our regular articles include "Ask the
Therapist" a question and answer column for survivors; "Female Perps in
the News" focuses on current cases around the country of women abusing
children and it's our most popular column; articles reviewing the current
research in the field and; survivor stories, artwork and poems.

We also offer a penpal service for survivors to network with each other
and find support.  There is a one-time fee of $2.50 ($3.00 foreign) to

Annual subscription rates are $30.00 U.S., $32.46 Washington State
residents, $36.00 Foreign (in U.S. Funds only).  Sample copies are $5.00
U.S. and $6.00 Foreign.  Writers guidelines are available upon request
with an SASE.

Truth about Abuse is a bi-monthly newsletter devoted to the repressed
memory controversy.  Each issue has a feature article written by a
professional in field that explores the nature of the controversy and the
research in the field of sexual abuse.  It also has letter's to the
editor, survivor articles, and our popular "Eye on the Media" which
reports on what the media is saying about the backlash.   The goals of the
newsletter are to fight back against the media disinformation campaign; to
provide accurate, documented information about the long term affects of
child sexual abuse; to validate survivor memories and histories, and help
the therapeutic community in treating survivors.

Subscription rates are $21.00 U.S., $22.72 Washington State residents,
$27.00 foreign (in U.S. Funds only).  A free sample copy is available for
an SASE (while supplies last).

To subscribe or for more information write to:  S.O.F.I.E./Truth about
Abuse, P.O. Box 2794, Renton, WA  98056, fax line (206) 277-0327.

* The Cutting Edge
[provided by someone else]

For self-harmers.  TCE, P. O. Box 20819, Cleveland, OH 44120.

=== 5.3 Organizations

* The Sidran Foundation (e-mail:
[updated URL, 10/19/97]

The Sidran Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization devoted
to the advocacy, education, and research on behalf of persons with
psychiatric disabilities.  One of the focuses of the organization is
survivors of trauma, and they therefore focus on such issues as PTSD,
and dissociation (including multiple personalities).

The Sidran Press publishes texts about dissociative disorders, and by
contacting the e-mail address above you can request informative
literature and a catalog of their publications.

Their web site URL is:

* ISSD: International Society for the Study of Dissociation
[provided by Peter Barach]  *Updated 3/15/96

This is an organization whose focus is the study of dissociative
disorders. They have an annual conference whose location rotates among
various US locations; in addition, the ISSD may hold other conferences
outside of the US from time to time. The organization has about 2500
members. Membership is open to degreed professionals and also to "lay
people" who have an interest in dissociation (which includes a number
of nontherapists who have dissociative disorders). The organization
publishes a quarterly journal, DISSOCIATION, which includes scientific
articles on the topic, a membership directory, and a bimonthly
newsletter. It's not a support group or an advocacy group for MPs.
Therapists, though, seem to find it supportive of their work in the
field. ISSD has a Web page ( that includes,
among other things, "Guidelines for Treating DID in Adults."

For information about membership, write ISSD at:
International Society for the Study of Dissociation
4700 West Lake Avenue
Glenview, IL 60025-1485
Tel: 1-708-375-4718
Fax: 1-708-375-4777

This FAQ is copyright (C) 1995, 1997.  See section 1.1.2 in part 1 
for full copyright notice.

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