AGRAPHOBIA – THE MOST WIDESPREAD FEAR HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
Do you know what Agraphobia is?
If I said, not even Google comes up with the right answer first time, would that surprise you?
Why not give it a try, type “agraphobia” into Google.
What did you get? AGORAPHOBIA, the fear of outside spaces and crowds of people definition? Did you notice any difference in the spelling?
One letter. The letter O.
AGRAphobia vs. AGORAphobia are two very different fears. The confusion is down to the pronunciation, the speed of speaking or the spelling, hence the listener or reader may assume they’re the same thing and so passes on incorrect information. As this confusion has even been picked up by Google’s search engine, then it’s a generally wide known misunderstanding.
WHAT IS AGRAPHOBIA
AGRAPHOBIA is the fear of sexual abuse.
People who suffer from agraphobia may feel intensely anxious when they perceive any situation could put them at risk of being sexually abused or attacked. If this anxiety is not controlled, it escalates to fear. For some, the fear can be so severe, that a person acts irrationally which can cause outbursts in public. Women who suffer from this condition for example, may have an extreme fear of being alone with a man, either at work, in an elevator or in any other situation for fear of sexual attack. Men who suffer from agraphobia may not feel comfortable being around women in general, or may even fear other men for the same reasons.
WHAT CAUSES AGRAPHOBIA
Agraphobia is the result of an emotional trauma that is psychologically linked by the individual to sexual abuse. Most of the time, the individual who suffers from agraphobia may have either been sexually abused or may have witnessed an act of sexual abuse. Even other sexually related situations can trigger agraphobia in an individual who otherwise had little or no previous fear of sexual abuse.
When the psychological element has been triggered, the individual will develop a strong or intense fear of sexual abuse believing the situations they’ve witnessed or conjured up in their mind will happen to them if they don’t take immediate action to ensure their own safety. While the exact causes of agraphobia can differ from one individual to the next, most of the time the cause is the result of:
- having been the victim of sexual abuse
- having witnessed sexual abuse in person
- having witnessed sexual abuse on television
- having a child or loved one who has been a victim of sexual abuse
- hearing stories about sexual abuse
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AGRAPHOBIA
There are number of symptoms that could signify agraphobia. Agraphobia often causes an individual to feel the symptoms of a panic attack:
- rapid breathing or breathlessness
- irregular heartbeat
- dry mouth
- extreme anxiousness
- inability to articulate words or sentences
- behaving out of control.
Any of the following symptoms may also indicate an individual suffering from agraphobia:
- being unduly suspicious of people
- trouble leaving home for fear of sexual attack
- difficulty being in public for fear of sexual attack
- fear of falling asleep for risk of potential sexual attack
- fear of sexual attack from a family member or someone they know
- restlessness and excessive worrying with trying to ensure their safety
- inability to maintain a relationship
- constant avoidance of any sexual intimacy
- panic attacks around specific people or places
Agraphobia can also cause extreme challenges in socialising, which could lead to wider social anxieties and fear. Some people who have agraphobia may suffer with fear of being out in public too. This is where AGORAphobia is misunderstood. AGRAphobia makes the individual believe that being out in public makes them more vulnerable to sexual attack. They will conduct themselves in such a way to avoid being in isolated situations in public, like parking in underground car park facilities, walking near bushes in parks and green spaces, and avoiding certain routes home or to a particular destination. The same individual may also conduct themselves in a way to avoid being in crowds or near crowds of people too, like bus or train stations, markets and community social events.
Some may succumb to this fear even when they are at home. For example, locking doors multiple times and still feel the need to double check them for fear of being sexually attacked. They might constantly avoid showing love and affection with their immediate family members and have difficulty maintaining a balanced relationship. They may have nightmares and find it difficult to sleep because their anxieties and fear make it impossible to rest.
HOW COMMON IS AGRAPHOBIA
This phobia occurs in so many people and is much more common than one would think, that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say millions of people have agraphobia. It is generally the most commonly named phobia that summarises a lot of sexual related fears.
The following list is sexually specific phobias that can affect both men and women:
- AGRA-PHOBIA – Fear of sexual abuse.
- ANDRO-PHOBIA – Fear of men. (also ARRHEN, HOMINO)
- ANUPTA-PHOBIA – Fear of being or staying single forever.
- COITO-PHOBIA – Fear of sex or sexual intercourse.
- CONTRECTO-PHOBIA – Fear of sexual abuse, specifically being touched or fondled sexually. (also CONTRELTO)
- CYPRIDO-PHOBIA – Fear of prostitutes, sexual intercourse with prostitutes, catching a STD (also CYPRI, CYPRIANO,CYPRINO)
- DISHABILIO-PHOBIA – Fear of undressing in front of someone. (also DISHABILLO)
- EROTO-PHOBIA – Fear of any object, act or person relating to sexual intercourse, even talking about it.
- EUROTO-PHOBIA – Fear of touching, looking or thinking about female genitalia.
- GENO-PHOBIA – Physical or psychological fear of sexual intercourse.
- GYNE-PHOBIA – Fear of women. (also GYNO)
- HAPTE-PHOBIA – Fear of being touched in any way casually or accidentally. (also HAPHE,HAPNO, CHIRAPTO, APHE, APHENPHOSM)
- HEDENO-PHOBIA – Fear of feeling or enjoying pleasure. (also HEDONO)
- HYPERTRICHO-PHOBIA – Fear of excessive hair on the body. (also CHAETO, CHAEOTO)
- ITHYPHALLO-PHOBIA – Fear of thinking, seeing or having an erect penis. (also MEDORTHO, PHALLO)
- MEDOMALACO-PHOBIA – Fear of a limp penis, not getting or holding an erection. (also MEDOMALACU)
- NUDO-PHOBIA – The fear of being naked or seeing someone naked. (also GYMNO)
- ONEIROGMO-PHOBIA – Fear of having wet dreams.
- PARA-PHOBIA – Fear of sexually perverse things and people, even turning perverse themselves.
- PARTHENO-PHOBIA – Fear of virgins, particularly young females.
- PHILEMA-PHOBIA – Fear of kissing. (also PHILEMATO)
- PHILO-PHOBIA – Fear of falling or being in love.
- PTERONO-PHOBIA – Fear of feathers or being tickled by feathers.
- RECTO-PHOBIA – Fear of rectums, rectal pain and rectal diseases. (also PROCTO)
- SARMASSO-PHOBIA – Fear of love play or foreplay (also MALAXO)
- SEXO-PHOBIA – Fear of the opposite sex.
- SPERMA-PHOBIA – Fear of the lack of sperm or semen. (also SPERMO)
- SYPHILO-PHOBIA – Fear of catching Syphilis or Lues, a specific STD (also SYPHILI, LUI)
- TOCO-PHOBIA – Fear of getting pregnant, pregnancy and childbirth. (also TOKO, LOCKIO, MAEIUSIO, PARTURI,TERATO)
- TRICHO-PHOBIA – Fear of hair, growing hair and hairy objects, animals and people. (also TRICHOPATHO)
- VENUSTRA-PHOBIA – Fear of beautiful women. (also VENUSTA, CALIGYNE, CALIGYNIA)
- VIRGINITI-PHOBIA – Fear of getting or being raped. (also VIRGIVITI)
Do you know someone who has any of these phobias?
HOW AGRAPHOBIA BECOMES SO WIDESPREAD
If one individual suffers with agraphobia, likely the individual’s family may develop fear of sexual abuse as a result of their loved one’s suffering. Close friends are likely to share in and confide with that individual and what they’re going through, and as a result may develop the fear of sexual abuse themselves. Associates that know the individual may be shocked or surprised to hear of such suffering of someone they know, and as a result may develop a measure of fear of sexual abuse, and so you can see the ripple effect to a greater or lesser degree of how agraphobia spreads.
How many people then, do you think have agraphobia, the fear of sexual abuse?
With the correct knowledge, we can begin to understand what agraphobia has done, is doing, and has the potential, to affect nearly every man, woman and child on a scale that’s hard to compare it with.
HOW AGRAPHOBIA HIDES IN PLAIN SIGHT
Perpetrators, opportunists and the sexually crazed all count on two things – opportunity and the silence of their sexual victims. Even if the perpetrator hasn’t actually carried out a physical sexual act on the individual, the psychological assault is enough to trigger agraphobia, along with a wave of other emotions, especially the feeling of shame.
Agraphobia has a far-reaching and deeper effect on the individual than people who don’t have it can imagine. It has the potential power to cripple them into becoming a prisoner in their own mind and body and wreck that person’s life. There is no time an individual would want agraphobia to become apparent, however, when it does, it can be extremely difficult to control, so the individual will always do their best to keep it suppressed and hidden. Looking and behaving normally is the greatest quest of every agraphobic sufferer, and that’s how agraphobia is hidden in plain sight.
HOW TO COMBAT AGRAPHOBIA
Remember the two things perpetrators count on – opportunity and the silence of their sexual victims. You only have control over one of these elements – to speak up and speak truth.
Speaking up and speaking the truth takes courage. There may be consequences to speaking up and speaking the truth, but if you don’t find the courage and do it, when will be the best time to speak up? Do you feel you deserve to live with agraphobia?
In recent times, we’ve all been made aware of an unprecedented wave of sexual abuse stories from every communication medium out there – hashtags, blogs, social media platforms, websites, crime series television programs, interviews, radio, television and news broadcasts, and all for good reasons.
Speaking of your experiences and situations, good and bad, is the beginning of uprooting the fear of sexual abuse, and it starts with a simple process of:
- what to say
- how to articulate yourself
- who to say it to
- when to say it
The power of words are amazing, so to have complete control over how you express your feelings with your words and start unearthing that fear, can’t be emphasised enough. Having the courage to share your feelings and experiences with your audience, listeners and readers, will not only help and benefit you, but will help countless other people in their quest to rid themselves of agraphobia too.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS OF AGRAPHOBIA
Sexual abuse and sexual opportunism has existed for as long as man has been alive, a VERY LONG time. Sadly, so has the fear of sexual abuse, agraphobia. We may not be able to eradicate this problem completely, but we can shift the power dynamics of what perpetrators count on, the silence of their sexual victims.
If we let it be known we are NEVER going to keep quiet and we will ALWAYS speak up and speak truth, your strength and courage may just put these perpetrators and opportunists in a counter karate move, psychologically speaking. They think they’ve got you locked in a helpless position, but your next move is the power move that will end this battle, the one they didn’t anticipate or see coming – BAAAM!! Game over!
So I thought of a simple poem to summarise my thoughts. Living life with agraphobia can be likened to a chicken’s embryo in the shell of an egg.
“Life grows to a certain point but when agraphobia becomes tougher, it completely encapsulated you, it restricts you and makes personal growth harder for you. You need to develop the courage and the strength to break through your personal barrier that’s keeping you contained, and eventually open up a world of personal freedom you would never have otherwise known.”
The poem has the ability to be a personal motivational poem if you change the words from “you” to “me or I” throughout.
I created some visual art that gives a sense of what it may feel like to be living with agraphobia. It’s dark and very eerie. The more you look at it, the more emotion it stirs.
If you feel inclined, would you like to share your thoughts, stories or experiences of what agraphobia has done to a person, maybe yourself, maybe a friend. Just leave your thoughts and comments in the box below, however short or long. I appreciate it may not be easy to say or share certain things, but someone’s going to read it… and it might be just what they needed to articulate their own feelings.
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Until next time…