Mary J. Blige’s admission of being the victim of childhood molestation on her “Behind The Music” has triggered discussion of the connection between molestation and addiction. She survived. Many victims never come out of the downward spiral of addiction.
Victims of rape or sexual assault may turn to alcohol or other substances in an attempt to relieve their emotional suffering. In the U.S., victims of sexual assault report higher levels of psychological distress and the consumption of alcohol than non-victims, in part, to self-medicate. Some victims use substances to cope with the reality of what happened to them or to cope with the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a common reaction to an extreme situation like sexual assault. However, it is not a healthy way to deal with the trauma of sexual assault and can cause additional problems, such as addiction or dependence, that hinder the healing process.
Survivors of sexual assault or sexual abuse in childhood may abuse drugs to help them “numb out” and push away the painful memories of sexual violence. Victims may also turn to drugs instead of true recovery resources, such as counseling; they may not think that friends or family will understand them, they may not know where to access recovery resources, or they may be embarrassed to talk about what happened.