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Abuse, Trauma & Eating Disorders

The staff of Rader Programs was the first to document the significant occurrence of both sexual and physical abuse among eating disordered individuals. We have found that over 80 percent of our clients have had some type of abusive or traumatic experience. The development of an eating disorder, in some instances, can almost be viewed as a survival mechanism to attempt to shield the individual from further harm. Compulsive overeaters sometimes subconsciously protect themselves from others by making themselves appear larger. Anorexics tend to make themselves appear smaller, minimizing their secondary sexual characteristics (hips, buttocks, and breasts) to avoid a sexual identity, nearly achieving the appearance of a prepubescent state. Some trauma survivors even act out sexually to unconsciously conquer their abusive experience.

Each individual's Compulsive Overeating, Anorexia, or Bulimia Program is unique.

For survivors of abuse, the obsessions and compulsions about weight and body image may be an attempt to regain control of their bodies. This unconscious drive to achieve a "perfect" body may be a response to the feeling of having their control stripped from them through the abuse experience.

Individuals who have survived abuse as well as those with eating disorders often experience dissatisfaction with the parts of their body usually associated with weight gained during puberty (i.e. buttocks, hips, breasts and thighs). Survivors of abuse and trauma may be dissatisfied with these aspects of their bodies because they represent sexuality. They often express a desire to return to the prepubescent stage which occurred before the painful confusion of sexuality. Feelings of distrust, inadequacy, insecurity, disconnection, and worthlessness are common.

Rader Programs addresses the effects of abuse and trauma in a supportive and empathic environment. Rader Programs is one of the only eating disorder programs to have individual counseling, group counseling, and educational sessions that address abuse and how the abuse relates to eating disorders like Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Overeating. Survivors of trauma are allowed to address the abuse and its consequences at their own pace and in the context that will be most helpful. Confidentiality and respect for each individual's dignity are hallmarks of our program.