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How Linkin Park's Chester Bennington's Childhood Sexual Abuse Impacted His Mental Health

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Chester's childhood traumatic experiences were what led the vocalist to pursue music.

Linkin Park vocalist, Chester Bennington, took his own life by hanging on July 20, 2017. He had been very outspoken about being a victim of child sexual abuse. He was also open about his struggles with drugs and alcohol as well as depression

His childhood and adolescent years were anything but fruitful. At 11 years old, his parents divorced and his father gained custody of Chester. His father was a detective for child sexual abuse cases. 

Chester Bennington had been sexually abused by an older man from the time he was 7 years old until the abuse ceased when he was the age of 13. He had reported in numerous interviews that he was too scared to say anything. He was fearful that whoever he told would think he was lying. 

At age 11, Chester started using different substances and later got into alcohol. He reported in past interviews that he started using to suppress the memories. It was his way of coping with what happened to him. 

When Chester was 17 years old, he went to live with his mother who caught him using drugs and forbade him from going out. Although he was 17 years old, Chester had started using substances at or around 11-12 years old.

Chester's childhood traumatic experiences were what led the vocalist to pursue music. It was his way of coping with what happened.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, approximately 1 in 5 girls are sexually abused as children. Additionally, 1 in 20 men experiences child sexual abuse. They further reported that the most vulnerable age group at risk for child sexual abuse is between 7 years of age to 13 years.

Statistics about child sexual abuse are often difficult to report as there are many unreported cases. It's unfortunate but I'm hoping more people will speak out and take a stand like Chester Bennington did. 

So, if you're sitting in a high school classroom, there are about 4-5 females who have experienced child sexual abuse. If you're sitting in a college lecture, there are about 5-6 males who were sexually abused as a child. 

That's absolutely ludicrous! These statistics are based on reported cases only so imagine what the numbers would be if we had a way to account for unreported child sexual abuse.   

How does childhood trauma influence mental health?

  • Those with a history of child sexual abuse or other traumatic event are 15 times more likely to suffer from mental health issues than those who did not experience childhood trauma
  • It has been reported that those with a past of childhood trauma are 4 times more likely to use substances or alcohol than those without childhood trauma, and
  • Depression is 4 times more likely in those who experienced childhood trauma as opposed to those who did not

For more information and national resources available for children and adult survivors and loved ones of sexual assault and abuse, visit the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) website.

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