Did you know that 60% of people with Bulimia have experienced sexual abuse?
After encountering this statistic, I learned that the 60% of those with Bulimia were sexually assaulted as children. According to EDreferral, “The connection is guilt, shame, anesthesia, self-punishment, soothing, comfort, protection and rage.”
Everyone goes through different things throughout their life and things start for any number of different reasons. I am highly interested in the topic because I had a relationship with ED. From 2002, until around 2008, ED and I dated on and off pretty regularly. ED was frustrating. ED was always there telling me that my feelings weren’t real, that I shouldn’t have to feel pain, hurt, sadness or frustration, and sometimes even happiness. ED told me I was fat. It told me that I would never be a dancer. It told me that only those who treated me poorly were right for me. ED was my eating disorder, Bulimia.
ED and I met the summer of 2002, shortly after my grandmother passed away. I was lonely and sad and I was looking for an escape from this pain. ED found me, took me in his arms and said, “You don’t need to feel this way.” He told me that I could eat my feelings and then just get rid of them all. And so it began. ED and I would binge on junk food and then all those feelings that I just ate would go right down the toilet shortly thereafter. Soon my family started to catch on to our relationship and I had to find better ways to hide it. I would go to public restrooms to purge instead of doing so at home. Sometimes I would purge up so many feelings that my throat would hurt, or I would lose electrolytes and need to replenish. Even though ED pushed me, I was in control.
I have to say, that when I was violated sexually that ED just became worse. ED taunted me around food. Sometime ED made me believe that people in my life were taunting me and pushing to eat just one more thing…not my friends, more so acquaintances. ED pushed me through all my failed attempts at finding a man. At one point, I became engaged, and my eating disorder was still relevant in my life. Certain things would spark ED to come out. Such as arguments with my fiance, stress from school, stress from work, among other things. Leftovers in the fridge would call me just because they were there(I could never have leftovers in the house). I tried to quit, but ED got the best of me, especially since my fiancé didn’t understand it. Finally, during the summer of 2008, something changed. I finally broke it off with ED. I wish I could say that I quit cold turkey, but I honestly can’t remember. I also think it helped that I parted ways with my fiance.
Since 2008, I have not spoken or dealt with ED. I have come to terms that I can splurge, but don’t have to purge. I have finally learned to deal with my feelings head on. These feelings still include the ones listed above: Guilt, shame, anesthesia, self-punishment, soothing, comfort, protection and rage. I have replaced the need to purge with other things. My husband helps me with the soothing and comfort. Guilt, shame, and rage I deal with head on. Most days I make it through these feelings, even if I am fighting tears.
According to nationaleatingdisorder.org, Bulimia, in particular, has been connected to trauma as a means of self-protection. This is because the binge/purge cycle of behaviors seem to reduce awareness of thoughts and emotions as a means of escape for several of the emotions that may accompany traumatic experiences such as anger, guilt, need to cleanse oneself of the experience and refocus, stress, need for control and predictability, and need for personal space.
If you know of anyone who is suffering from an eating disorder, sexual violence, or both, please know that there are positive steps they can take to help them recover. Please check outwww.nationaleatingdisorders.org for more information.