Dealing With Depression For Victims Of Abuse According To Psychologists


When you hear about someone getting victimized by an abusive person, specifically a loved one, psychologists do not have to come and tell you that there’s a high likelihood for that victim to undergo depression. Imagine, a family member, boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse, who they never thought would lay a finger on them and protect them from harm, turned out to be the harbinger of suffering and chaos in their life. And it is only domestic or sexual violence that an individual might deal with in the hands of ill-meaning folks but also emotional abuse whose scars stay longer than any welt on the body.

Before and even after getting rescued from such an ordeal, the victim tends to show signs of depression already. For one, you may start distancing yourself away from the people who might be able to put two and two together and realize what you are going through. It is possible for you to remain inside your head more often than not as well, regardless of where you may be. Furthermore, you might welcome suicidal thoughts, primarily when you think of the different levels of pain that the abuser might bring to you.

Despite all of that, you should know that you can recover from depression if you put enough effort to get over it. Considering your mind seems too chaotic to come up with coherent thoughts at the moment, here are some tips on how to kickstart the healing process. The healing process involves much preparation of personality and willpower to stay grounded in the truth of what happened – to say it out loud to themselves that they were wrongly violated”, according to Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D.


Say No To Overanalyzing

This is an exaggerated reason why people go into depression. Overanalyzing is the same as a misunderstanding, in the sense that the more you try to read between the lines, the more you entertain ideas that are practically out of this world.  If you feel that you’re doing it now, you should halt your train of thoughts right now. You will never be able to know entirely what has prompted someone to commit violence, but you should concentrate on thanking the heavens for getting out of it in one piece.

Stop Calling Yourself Names

The power of the tongue should never get underestimated. If you keep on calling yourself “weak” or “stupid” because you have given the abuser an opening to victimize you, there might come a time when you will honestly feel like those words describe you.

For the record, you do not deserve any of those names. The fact that you are here, reading a blog on how to deal with depression shows how strong you are. So, stop the name-calling already; it’ll only make you even more depressed in the end.


Avoid Using Drugs

This is a no-brainer. If you are a sane person even before dealing with depression, you should at least remember that drugs will always be drugs. The chemicals in them may offer relief at some point, but they also come with side effects. That is especially true for anti-depressants, which are supposed to improve your mental health. In case you genuinely need complementary or alternative treatment to recover from depression, you should focus on natural ways to feel better.

Do Not Hate The World

It’s probably just one person or occurrence that has disturbed you, but it does not mean the entire world is your enemy. You should stop hating the planet and every living creature in it. After all, based on Newton’s Third Law of Motion – “action has an equal and opposite reaction” – feeling such a negative emotion towards the world will make it hate you just as much. That’s when your situation might become worse than you have expected.

Lengthen Your Sleep

Getting a gracious amount of sleep is what you need to be able to rejuvenate your body and mind and get out of depression fast. Stop being content with only 2 to 4 hours of sleep because, ladies and gentlemen, because that is not enough. It matters for you to have approximately 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to be able to clear your head and allow your tissues to repair themselves. Otherwise, you might feel helpless for a long time. According to Lara Schuster Effland, LCSW, “When it comes to sleep hygiene, studies show that a bedtime routine that includes a period of time to unwind can be effective.”


Stop Infecting Others With Depression

Often, when you’re feeling blue, the people around you can adapt your mood until they feel depressed too. Instead of pulling them down to your depressive state, though, you should push yourself up and infect everyone with positivity. That is the only virus that individuals will be happy to acquire.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with depression sucks, especially if the mental disorder has been brought upon by a form of abuse that you have experienced. “There’s always a reason” when bad things happen. And perhaps most important, they have a right to our compassion, our care, and our kindness,” said psychotherapist Beverly Engel. However, it is an issue that you should never take for granted if your goal is to heal from that kind of ordeal. Hence, try to follow the tips above or look for more ways to get out of that depressive hole. You are strong; you can undoubtedly do it.

Good luck!

The Stress And Anxiety Suffered By Stalking Victims



What happened to actress Rebecca Schaeffer, the lead star in the TV show My Sister Sam, became an eye opener to all other actors. She was killed by her avid fan, John Bardo, who had been stalking her for two years before committing the cold murder. I can just imagine that fear, anxiety, and psychological stress that she was suffering all those times. Sadly, it was an era when stalking was not a crime, and there was a lack of awareness of dangerous matters like these. Rebecca’s death led to the enactment of the very first anti-stalking law in California in 1990. Consequently, all 50 states created their form of anti-stalking law. Stalking behavior, historically characterized as romantic, obsessive advances has recently been identified as psychopathological by both the forensic mental health, law enforcement and legal communities,” writes Joe Davis, Ph.D.


Despite the strict enactment of the laws and more awareness being done nowadays, stalking still does persist. In fact, a survey says that 2% of men and 8% of women in America will have been stalked in their lifetime. In Australia, women between 18 and 35 have a higher likelihood of being stalked (11%), then those between 36 and 55 (8%). This is according to reports done by Paul Mullen, M.D., stalking expert.

On the other hand, 8% of males aged 18 to 35 were stalked, 4% of those aged 36 to 55, and 3% aged 56 and above, still according to Mullen, who is also a professor of forensic psychiatry at Monash University, Australia.

Stalking Defined

Stalking is defined as a set of behavioral patterns that persist for over two weeks and entails repeated and continuous efforts on another person unsolicited communications that produce fear, anxiety, or pain. Stalking may continue from two weeks up to 40 weeks.

Stalkers may make unwanted contacts with their victims through email, phone, notes, and letters left on the victim’s property. They try to be close to the victim by following or even approaching that person. They also send unwanted presents to the victim, something that can be sweet and expensive one time and can be scary and dangerous the next time. Some stalkers go to extremes of sending parts of dead animals or live spiders and rates, among others. When the continued attention remains unreciprocated, communication turns from amorous to ominous,” noted Wendy L. Patrick, JD, Ph.D.


Ironically, stalkers also have this disturbing behavior of turning on their victims like filing a complaint against them. When the stalkers do file this complaint, the court may at times get confused about who’s stalking who!

Professionals At Risk Of Being Stalked

Several psychiatrists in Australia were interviewed, and most of them claimed that they, at some point in their careers, were stalked by one of their patients. According to Romeo Vitelli Ph.D.,Studies of different medical specialties suggests that psychiatrists are the most likely to be stalked with one Australian study showing the incidence of psychiatrists being stalked is as high as 19.5 percent.” These stalkers mostly had personality and behavioral disorders. The victims are frequently enforced to change their lives to get rid of the stalker. Paul Mullen’s study revealed that more than 50% of his subjects found new jobs, 70% significantly reduced their social activities, and about 40% moved to another city or state.

Aside from the physical risks, victims have shown to suffer from moderate to severe mental stress and anxiety. Among Mullen’s subjects in the whole study, more than 80% were diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorder. About 20% of these professionals had suicidal thoughts and have increased their consumption of cigarettes or alcohol as a result of the stalking incidents.

Treatment Recommendations

Among the suggested treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy proved to be very effective in treating the physical and psychological disorders that stalking victims suffer from. They are often used in combination with prescription medications like SSRIs.

Experts and advocates remind everybody – professionals or not – the relevance of educating and informing friends, family, and significant others about stalking and not hesitate to ask for help in managing the symptoms and disorders that come after the unpleasant experience. A fact about these victims is that they are exactly like those victims of sexual, physical, or verbal abuse. They may blame themselves for the dilemma they are in, and because they are guilty or ashamed, they often choose to keep mum about it. They would rather isolate themselves than to face the truth.


If you or someone you know is feeling this way – ashamed, afraid, or isolated because of a stalking experience – counseling is the first step towards recovery. It will help reduce and eventually erase the guilt that you should have never even felt in the first place. You are not responsible for your stalker. You are a victim. Don’t forget that.





The Psychology Of Sexual Harassment And Abuse

The unwelcomed sexual conduct of any physical, visual, and verbal approach is considered harassment. It is a pervasive situation where it puts the victim into a hostile environment. It allows predators to take advantage of their prey by any means or form of abuse if necessary.

There are many types of abuse a person can suffer from in their life — emotional, physical, sexual, and psychological — to name just a few of the more common ones,” according to psychologist John M. Grohol, Psy.D.


Three Parts Of Sexual Abuse

Visual – Visuals of sexual abuse include pictures, videos, drawings, texts, emails, and posters of any kind related to nudity and pornography. It is often an effective way to manipulate the victim through wanting to have sexual relations. Sometimes, the visual representation of an attempt for sexual intentions usually gets away due to variable definitions. The images, text messages, and videos are somehow considered as an art, content without malice, and documentary files.

Verbal – It is a category of sexual abuse that focuses on the person’s body, clothing, and appearance. Sometimes, it can be sexual or gender-based remarks or jokes. In some unfortunate instances, it could be a blunt request of sexual interaction, spreading rumors about someone else’s sexual life, and a constant blab about obscene or foul language. Most predators are recognizable due to their persistent sexual innuendos such as cat-calling and over-closeness. Sometimes they even resort to threats or sexual extortion.

Physical – Sexual assault relates to physical movement through inappropriate touching on the sensitive areas of the victim’s body. These include rubbing, hugging, groping, kissing, stroking, leering or staring, and any sexual gesturing. It is the most obvious form of sexual harassment that can unquestionably lead to the attempt of indulging a sexual abuse.


When Should You React?

Sexual harassment doesn’t limit its victim on age, ethnicity, gender, or race. All people are capable of harassing someone, and all of them can also become a victim. It becomes standardized when any type of remarks, physical interaction, and visual representation puts a person in an uncomfortable feeling.

A person who experiences sexual abuse shouldn’t have to wait for a “go signal” before he or she reacts. Under no circumstances should you pretend to like unwanted advances,” suggests Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D. It is essential to understand that when the harassment is subsequently going on, there’s a need for an immediate confrontation. However, some scenarios won’t support all the claim of the victim, and sometimes it can even turn the situation around. That’s the reason why some people ignore the signs of sexual abuse.


The psychology of sexual harassment and abuse is a broad topic. However, due to the lack of information, policy, and punishment, it is often ignored. When there is a complete act of lewdness, people usually let it slip away and never complain about it. Sometimes it is due to fear to the harasser, judgment from other people, and ignorance of the situation that hinders them to react. However, those reasons shouldn’t have to mean a thing. Victims must learn to understand the different types of this sexual harassment and abuse so they can confidently do something about it. It’s understandable that some cases will be unavoidable, but it doesn’t mean that the situation is uncontrollable. Sexual abuse is something that people would never dream of experiencing. As what Marty Klein, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist and a licensed psychotherapist said, “Walking away is optional, and certainly acceptable.”

Do Not Be A Date Rape Drug Victim

It is not uncommon for party venues to turn into a den of date rape drug victims and ignorance to the whole scheme often results in an individual falling into the rape trap.

Date rape is the term for the nonconsensual sexual act done by someone who is socially acquainted or even romantically involved with the victim. According to Dr. Karyl McBride, “Date and marital rape are very psychologically damaging because they impact a trusting relationship and cause the victim to blame him or herself for being involved with that offender in the first place.”



 Date Rape Drugs and Their Effects

Date rape drugs are known to lower a person’s inhibitions or defenses so that he or she becomes helplessly susceptible to sexual assaults. There are many types of drugs used for date rape but the most well known are Rohypnol, GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyric acid and Ketamine.

These drugs, often referred to as ‘club drugs,’ come in liquid, tablet or powder forms and are usually slipped into someone’s drinks. The effects are felt in 15 to 30 minutes, some almost immediately, after ingestion.

A victim will usually start feeling drunk despite having consumed little alcohol, and then disorientation will set in, leaving the person confused, dizzy and unable to concentrate. The victim also suffers from memory loss, unable to remember the incident. Some drugs are also known to increase sensuality and can cause difficulty in breathing, hallucinations, nausea, slow heart rate, high blood or low blood pressure, numbness, blackouts, convulsions, and seizures. Date rape drugs, when infused in alcoholic drinks, can potentially be life-threatening due to having a strong anesthetic effect.  If these drugs are given at higher dosages, it can actually lead to coma or worse, death.




 Better Be Paranoid Than Sorry

So the question is, how can you avoid falling victim to such a heinous scheme?

Discerning if a drink or food offered to you is spiked with a drug commonly used for date rape will be a difficult task since these drugs are often colorless and some do not have any distinguishable smell or taste.

Along similar lines, avoid taking substances (including drinks) from a person that you do not know,” says Lauren Brande, MA.

Trusting someone you know comes naturally to most people so accepting anything they offer at a social event may be easy. It is advisable, however, to take precaution and turn down anything that is proffered. It will be safer if you get the beverage or food yourself. Should it be necessary for someone else to prepare the drink such as a bartender, you should keep a keen eye during the process. Never leave your drink or food unattended. If you happen to neglect a drink or food even for a short period of time, it is best to dispose of it.

Avoid binge drinking as well. Too much alcohol intake can also put you at risk of being a victim of sexual abuse.


Don’t Panic, Get Help

If you happen to start feeling any of the known effects of date rape drugs, inform a friend or someone you fully trust about the situation immediately and ask to be taken home or to a hospital in case you suffer from severe repercussions. If you are alone, call someone – a relative or a close friend – and tell them your location. It is also advisable that you contact the designated emergency line or number in your area and seek help.

If a friend or companion happens to be the one to show signs of being drugged, do not leave them alone. Call the emergency hotline or bring her or him to the closest hospital and seek medical attention.




Always take precautions and attend events or gatherings with a friend or a relative or a group of people you trust. If you are at a club or any other party venue filled mostly with strangers, it is best to be mindful of the people around you. Do not be a date rape victim. Learn to read situations and remain on constant alert.

 “Talking to others in similar situations can be a tremendous source of support,” noted Amy Bellows, Ph.D.



Once A Princess, Now A Prisoner – A Tale of Psychological Abuse




Once upon a time, you’ve met this man who has offered you the world, has treated you like a princess so you’ve fallen in love, have gotten married, and not long after, you find yourself a prisoner in your own home. Sounds cliché but the bitter fact is that this isn’t an uncommon situation. It happens in real life, not just in movies or television dramas or tragic novels.

This is one of the many faces of domestic violence and unfortunately, it is not usually considered a criminal behavior. There is still a possibility, however, that emotional, psychological, and even financial abuse may result in unlawful assault.


Why Psychological Abuse Happens



If you are trapped in an abusive and oppressive relationship, you may start asking why this is happening to you and why your husband is doing it. It’s a sad reminder that what starts out with intimacy and love can become ugly and tragic,” according to Joni E Johnston Psy.D.

Jealousy and mistrust are the common triggers but the root cause varies and is often psychological. In relationships, it’s normal for people to experience some amount of jealousy. However, abusers mistake the feeling of jealousy as a sign of love, which strengthens their acts of excessive possessiveness,” says Brook Sprowl, LCSW. Some men may have low self-esteem or are wrapped within a great deal of insecurity that they fear their wives might realize they are unworthy and might leave them so they use manipulation and threats as their shield and weapon.

Some are probably haunted by a traumatic experience in the past that causes fear of rejection or abandonment. It is also possible that some men are victims of abuse themselves and their actions are a reflection of how they have been treated.


How to Recognize Psychological Abuse

Early signs may include doubt or mistrust. Your partner may start asking you for details of what you have done for the day, where you have gone or who you have been with. Then threats and intimidation come right after where your partner may start requiring you to ask permission whenever you leave the house or may even demand you to stay at home. It won’t be long before you will be literally locked inside your house and will be isolated from everyone, even from friends and relatives.

There are different manifestations of psychological and emotional abuse. Name-calling or emotional bullying, throwing insults, threatening, humiliating, mocking, isolating and ignoring the person are some of the signs that abuse is present. This doesn’t only happen between married couples or two people in a relationship. It can also arise between parent or caregiver and child, between siblings, friends or acquaintances, between a teacher and a student.


What to Do




Once you recognize the signs and they are aimed at you, seek help and inform someone. You may also try to confront your abuser but you have to be extremely cautious, especially when you have no knowledge whether the person is mentally unstable or not.

Oftentimes, abuse only worsens if you allow it. It can be extremely difficult for a victim of domestic violence to acknowledge that abuse is taking place, especially when it’s not physical abuse but rather emotional or psychological,” says psychiatrist Toby D. Goldsmith, MD. If you inevitably sink knee-deep further into a rabbit hole of this abusive process and find yourself in a situation where you’re stripped off of freedom, don’t give up. Be mindful of any window of opportunity to escape from your prison and when you find it, flee. Some abusers still allow their partners access outside their home under their watchful eyes. This may provide a chance for you to break free.

If you find yourself at the center of psychological or emotional abuse, never think that you deserve it. No one does. Do not blame yourself either. It is not and shouldn’t be your fault. Saying you have to be strong may be easier said than done but that is what you need to do to take control of your life once more.

Male And Sexually Violated



If you think that only women fall victim to the heinous crime of rape, then you are sorely wrong. Men, mostly teens and young adults, likewise suffer from various levels of sexual violation. It is important for advanced practice nurses and other clinicians to be aware of indicators of rape and sexual abuse in men and to be able to detect them,” says Jennifer C. Yeager, MSc and Joshua Fogel, PhD.

Majority of the male rape victims belong to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. A homosexual male is targeted by another man most especially if he is effeminate or has feminine features or is ‘too pretty’ for the offender. In most cases, male offenders may claim that they are not homosexual and may internally justify their aggressive behavior as a display of masculinity.

Sadly, sexual assault on men isn’t an isolated incident or an unusual situation. In a survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of lesbians, gay and bisexual victims of sexual-related crime are equal or even higher than similar incidents involving heterosexuals.


Trusting the Wrong Person

There are several rape cases where offenders, usually when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are acquaintances of the male victims. Some of these male victims are in intimate relationship with their aggressors.

In a report done by the Williams Institute’s School of Law about the research on intimate relationship violence (IPV) and sexual abuse among LGBT people, a study provides an approximated 26.9% of gay men who were victims of IPV in their lifetimes.

It is a daunting thought that a person you unconditionally trust can do something so horrific.


Gang Rape and Group Rape

It is not a foreign concept for a man to find himself in the middle of a gang or group rape. A fraternity may be a potential stage for such scenario where a new member or a neophyte may be forced to have sexual intercourse with several older members of the group as part of an initiation process. In some circumstances, it may not involve any form of initiation but rather an act of discrimination against a homosexual or bisexual member of the group.

Prison is another probable setting for this sexual-related crime. In fact, there have been reported cases of gang rape in jail over the years. One of the factors that may drive men to commit such a vicious act is psychological. Being locked up with limited access to the outside world and having no means to release sexual tension can increase stress levels that may drive a person mad. It is also undeniable that a prison is a lair full of individuals with psychological disorders.


Discrimination and Hate Crime

Not all sexual violations involve forced intercourse or penetration.  “Sexual harassment is really not about sex. It’s about power and aggression and manipulation. It’s an abuse of power problem,” says James Campbell Quick, PhD, a professor of leadership and management at the University of Texas at Arlington. Men may also be victims of verbal assault, sexual harassment, physical violence and psychological coercion to perform other sexual acts such as oral sex. Discrimination may be the cause for perpetrators to violate homosexual or bisexual men. This is often billed as a hate crime, and it happens to about 4 out of 10 men who are identified to be part of the LGBT group.


Common Aftermath



 It is not easy for a man to admit, much more to go public or to report to authorities, that he had been sexually violated. Shame and self-doubt are natural reactions that may plague him and prevent him from taking necessary steps.

In a gender-focused hierarchy, men are likely expected to be the aggressors. Being victims may leave them confused and afraid of how other people may view them. They may be overwhelmed with fear that reporting the crime committed against them may lead to exposure of their sexual orientation if they have not come out of the metaphorical closet just yet.

Sexual crime against men is no different than the same criminal act done on women. They deserve the same assistance offered to women who have been sexually assaulted. If you are a man and you have been a victim of sexual abuse, you need to reach out to the authorities, or anyone you deem may be able to help. Even if you have no interest in filing a lawsuit, it’s often a good idea to talk to an employment attorney,” says forensic psychologist Joni E Johnston Psy.D.

How To Identify Sexual Harassment At Work




Sexual harassment is a serious criminal offense that can put the accused employee or the employer in court. Thousands of coercive incidences happen each year, especially in job settings, yet only a few become legal cases. “There is a pattern to close ranks, admit nothing and blame the victim,” says C. Brady Wilson, PhD, a psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona, who specializes in sexual harassment and workplace trauma.

Indeed, it isn’t entirely due to lack of access to authorities since social media, and police hotlines are available now. A lot of the sufferers can’t come forward because they are not sure if they have just been violated or not. According to John M. Grohol, Psy.D., “The most important thing a person needs to realize if they are the victim of sexual abuse is that it is not your fault.”

You see, the thing about sexual harassment is that it’s more of like an umbrella term. Although a colleague trying to make a pass on you is the generic depiction of it, it’s still coercion if the person leaves derogatory comments or won’t give you peace in the office.

Read on to see other scenarios that point to sexual harassment.


Continue reading “How To Identify Sexual Harassment At Work”

Why I’m Afraid Of Yellow Bikes

 One Woman’s Personal Take On Sexual Assault

Many people who suffer from sexual abuse or sexual assault can also suffer long-term effects from the abuse,” says psychologist John M. Grohol, Psy.D. When we say sexual harassment or abuse, most would always think that there’s a physical connection involved whether that be just words, or touching, or worse, rape. But what about those victims whose assailants just instilled fear in them without doing anything physical? Could that be considered sexual harassment or abuse, too? Or is it just a teenage girl’s imagination gone haywire?


That teenage girl – she’s me. And this is my story.

First Encounter

I don’t know who he is. I don’t even know his name. All my mind remembers is the yellow bike he rode in every one of our encounters and his cropped hair.

Later on, I resolved to put it out of my mind believing that it was just some random nightmarish incident.

Little did I know that nightmare would follow me home.

On Repeat

Just a few months after, I was walking my way home – a 40-yard long grassy stretch from the highway – when I encountered that same yellow bike and that same man. This time, he jacked off in front me, a sinister look on his face all the while saying vulgarities. I ran home as fast as I could, not minding my backpack full of books and talked frantically to my mom. But by the time she went to check things out, he was already gone.

Those two encounters turned into three. And then, they turned into more.

It seemed like he was just waiting in a corner, ready to pounce on me. For three years, he always ended up “victimizing” me – early mornings on my way to school, in the afternoons when I come home, even during noontime breaks on occasions when I decide to go back to my house to get some school things. Nevertheless, only two or three of my neighbors encountered him, and those were limited – only twice or thrice. Furthermore, they didn’t seem to look so fazed out with these encounters like me. So, I resolved to put on a brave face.

However, fear always accompanied my walks towards and from my own house. There were times I’d run those 40 yards as fast as I could, times I’d utter endless prayers in my mind as I ran, and most of the time, I carried something sharp inside my uniform’s pocket.

My fear of this nameless man gripped me so hard that whenever I see someone biking, my heart would frantically hammer inside my chest while my brain would tell me to run away on repeat. It controlled my young life for over three years. When you are traumatized, you lose control of your life”, says Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.



It has been over 15 years since. I want to say that I’m over that nightmare, but I’m not. I’m still scared of yellow bikes. I always feel wary of crop-haired strangers by habit. Thankfully, my parents don’t live in the same neighborhood anymore, so visiting them isn’t a problem. According to Sharie Stines, Psy.D., “Healing requires patience, understanding, safety, and validation.”

Years may have passed, but questions about that part of my life remain unanswered. Would it have made a difference if I brought my concerns to the police? Would they take notice of my case even if there was no physical contact involved? Or would they have dismissed it as some baseless worries of a young girl?