A LEADING neurologist says people who were sexually abused as children are suffering blackouts and fits caused by their traumatic memories.
Dr Richard Grünewald said people who were sexually abused decades ago are now turning up at their GPs or being referred to specialists with what looks like epilepsy.
However, he said further tests show they are often suffering “dissociative attacks”, blackouts or seizures caused by an emotional reaction to painful memories.
Dr Grünewald, a member of Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said there was a “huge hidden epidemic” of child sex abuse and the NHS needed plans in place to cope with the problem once the children become adults.
He said: “There is an element here that must not be forgotten – what happens to these children when they grow up?
“If you look down your street, there will be several people who have been sexually abused – it’s that common.
“These patients will present to medical staff, they will not present to police or social workers. They don’t go to their GPs and say I was sexually abused 20 years ago but they will say ‘I’m having blackouts.'”
There has been a sharp rise in the reporting of sexual abuse since former TV star Jimmy Savile was exposed as a serial sex abuser, with some police forces reporting rises of around 70 per cent since the revelations came to light.
Humberside Police recorded some of the highest numbers of reports of rape against adults and children in the country during 2013 and 2014.
In January, figures revealed 255 cases of adult rape were reported in 2013-14, an increase of 62 on the previous 12 months.
There were also 185 reports of rape against a child, up from 176.
Detectives believe the investigation into Savile, which led to Operation Yewtree, has encouraged many victims to come forward decades after they were abused.
Hull Crown Court is also dealing with cases of child sex abuse, with some dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.
Dr Grünewald, clinical director of neurosciences at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, said: “One thing I can say about Jimmy Savile, he did something for that.”
He said it was crucial Hull’s health services had systems in place to help patients now suffering health conditions linked to abuse in the past.
He said: “We are dealing with an epidemic of medical symptoms related to a social evil inherent in society.
“But it is not just about establishing a service, it is about developing a culture where they can move on.”
CCG board members heard victims of sexual abuse also come to the attention of the NHS through other health specialisms including gynaecology or cardiology.
Dr Dan Roper, chairman of the board, said there was a growing recognition among GPs that patients often appeared in their surgeries with conditions that could be linked to traumatic abuse suffered during their childhoods.
He said there was an “increasing realisation” of the problem among the medical profession and a new model of care was being developed to deal with the phenomenon.
Hull Daily Mail