National Eating Disorders Association
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Trauma

A woman I treated often described it as the key “roadblock” to her recovery, a seemingly larger-than-life barrier that prevented her from making it to the other side of her eating disorder. She could envision what awaited her, a life rich with wellness and meaning, but she couldn’t see a way around this boulder lying in her path. 

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Getting to the Root Cause to Treat Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are rarely solely related to abnormal or disturbed eating habits. In fact, eating disorders are rarely even about food. As an integrative medicine practitioner with over thirty years of experience in treating eating disorders, knowing the root cause of eating disorders like bulimia, binge eating disorder, and anorexia is critical to developing an effective treatment plan for patients. 

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Sexual violence advocacy is a world of two-sided realities. Survivors often share that they have mixed feelings in the aftermath and healing process. Some examples of these binary realities include:

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In the beginning of April, I participated in a NEDA chat about eating disorders, body image issues, and how they affect me as an autistic woman. After the chat, I had so many thoughts swirling around in my brain. The questions and answers brought forth memories long forgotten. 

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It is a widely-known, yet little-talked-about fact that trauma in childhood can lead to the development of unhealthy and potentially-fatal coping behaviors such as eating disorders. Until a few years ago, I never spoke a word about the abuse that I had endured in my household, as well as the disordered behaviors I lived with for most of my life as a result. 

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Traumatic events are events that cause psychological, physical and/or emotional pain or harm.  

Traumatic events, especially those involving violence between people, have been found to be significant risk factors for the development of a variety of psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders—particularly those involving bulimic symptoms, such as binge eating and purging. 

Stress, Trauma and Coping

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Trauma & PTSD

Trauma and Eating DisordersTraumatic events are events that cause psychological, physical, and/or emotional pain or harm.  

Traumatic events, especially those involving violence between people, have been found to be significant risk factors for the development of a variety of psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders—particularly those involving bulimic symptoms, such as binge eating and purging. 

Dr. Lesley Williams is a certified eating disorder specialist, family medicine physician and positive body image advocate. She co-owns Liberation Center, an eating disorder treatment facility, in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Williams is dedicated to ensuring that all women and men who struggle with eating and body image issues receive the help that they need to overcome and live happy, healthy lives.

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Nearly one in five women and one in 71 men report being raped at some point in their lives, according to the Center for Disease Control. Given the shame and other complexities that keep many victims from reporting the crimes, these numbers are likely lowball—and don’t include other kinds of sexual violence, such as unwanted sexual touch.

Along with other challenging and potentially debilitating effects of sexual assault comes a high risk for poor body image, disordered eating and full-fledged eating disorders. 

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Thanks to the wonderful work of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the month of April is dedicated as  Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. RAINN says that, “the goal of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (#SAAM) is to spread awareness of sexual violence, and share concrete ways to address this issue.” This is a goal that NEDA whole-heartedly supports.

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