Many abuse victims are females and children who will suffer health complications due to chronic stress, a condition where the body is betrayed by its own chemical imbalance repeatedly as the trauma of rape of beating is replayed in the mind regularly. The result is perennial feelings of depression, worthlessness, fear, distrust, confusion, and the whole litany of negative emotions that sooner or later manifest themselves in sickness.
Those with a history of violent abuse have particular problems in that past stress stays in the muscles and the mental signals that can produce a panic response are always going off, making the adrenal gland secrete these survival steroid hormones. People don’t just forget a beating or rape, the experience lives in the memory and has a continuing degenerative effect on the central nervous system due to a lingering psychological pattern of hormonal imbalance.
Tests on study groups demonstrated that massage therapy reduced tension and produced more positive self-feelings and less fear of social settings, among many other benefits experienced by those receiving regular massage treatment – more relaxed posture, fewer headaches, less back pain, and even fewer skin problems. These are some of the common symptoms of chronic stress.
Chronic stress is the term used to sum up the condition of many years of hormone imbalance and its effects on the central nervous system, and ultimately on behavior and personality. Some of the things caused by chronic stress are impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function, high blood pressure, a decrease in muscle tissue, decreased bone density, blood sugar imbalances, increased fat, and lowered immune response. The list of degenerative ills caused by chemical reactions in the body adds up to a personality disorder over time as the overall health suffers prematurely.
Cortisol is the activated form of cortisone; it becomes active through a specific enzyme in the fat tissues when we awake or are confronted by situations that require an increase in energy. It is secreted by the adrenal cortex on top of the kidneys and is called upon when the body needs to produce a fight, flight, or defeat response. This makes the heart beat faster and it will also start converting fat to sugar for sudden energy.
The role of therapeutic massage in this regard is to eliminate the chronic stress that keeps signaling the stressors to go off that release too much cortisol. The pressure of deep tissue massage and the stroking motions of Swedish massage have proven to work best with victims of violent abuse in raising their self-esteem, reducing headaches, eliminating panic attacks, and reducing life-event stress.
We live in times where two out of three female children and one out of three male children will experience an unwanted sexual act before they reach adulthood. We all know at least one woman who has been a battered wife at some point. In enlightened societies regular massage therapy should be made available to those being counseled for abuse for the underlying problem is at the cellular level; treating only the conscious mind won’t reach the way that chemical reactions are triggered in the cell receptors.