By Vincent Felitti, MD
“Incest and childhood sexual abuse are among the great social taboos of all time. As a result, we act as if they are rare aberrations, infrequently mentioned in a newspaper article about someone far from our part of town. Unfortunately, both are demonstrably common even in the ‘best of families’. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study of 17,337 middle-class American adults found a self-acknowledged prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in 28% of the women and 16% of the men when routine inquiry was carried out, initially using a well-devised questionnaire, filled out at home, to gather this information. We then followed it up in the exam room: “I see on the Questionnaire that……. Can you tell me how that has affected you later in your life.” And we listened, implicitly accepting that person as a worthwhile human being. Ultimately we did this with 440,000 adult patients over an 8-year period.
Sadly, this high prevalence that is lost in time and further concealed by shame and secrecy usually causes these individuals unconsciously to seek relief in various coping devices like food, alcohol, nicotine, promiscuity, and street antidepressants like methamphetamine. Although these coping devices often end in biomedical disease and shortened lives, their underlying causality typically remains unrecognized.
“Repair Your Life” will be of major help to these many hidden people, if they find their way to this book. It is one of several significant books by a woman who writes openly and perceptively, using her own experiences to take us down her path to an ultimately fulfilling life. This example of someone speaking intelligently and freely about the ordinarily unspeakable is a powerful starting point for those fortunate individuals who will find self-help here when so little else is visible to them. This is an important book.”
Vincent J. Felitti, MD, is a renowned physician and researcher, one of the world’s foremost experts on childhood trauma, and the co-principal investigator of the internationally recognized Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.
San Diego, California.