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“I Survived Sexual Abuse. Can I Get Life Insurance?”

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of Ronald Reagan, recently disclosed to the world that he is a survivor of sexual abuse as a child.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while helping survivors of abuse to get life insurance, it’s that it is hard enough to come to grips with your own trauma.

It is double hard to do so as the son of a celebrity – indeed of the former president of the United States. To do so publicly, as a noted columnist and radio talkshow host, takes enormous bravery.

I salute Mr. Reagan.

I wish all survivors could have his courage.

Many of them seem to be out there.

Over the past few months we’ve heard claims of a pedophile ring among Hollywood bosses.

Budding actors and actresses seem to always have to “sleep their way to the top,” but the predation on children makes it all especially sinister.

Sexual Abuse Isn’t Unique to Hollywood

But we can’t kid ourselves into believing that all the bad things happen only in the show business world. The facts speak for themselves: as many as one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused in their childhood. In a country of 300+ million people, the victims would count in the millions. They are not all in celebrity parties. They are in the homes of our neighbors, in our schools, and in our religious institutions.

Many of them are now grown up and trying to live normal and decent lives. They do their best at not letting their wounds interfere with their relationships and careers. They start families, take on mortgages, form businesses.

And so they try to buy life insurance. Is it easy? Actually it does not have to be that hard. Let me tell you the story of one client.

Drug Abuse and Depression

She called me a number of years ago to ask if I can get a policy for someone with a history of depression. I answered that generally I could, but whether or not I could help her depended on the particulars of her case. We started a dialogue.

In the course of our conversation I learned of the prior history of drug and alcohol abuse. There had been some rough patches, treatments, and relapses. She very clearly had been fighting to control the dark forces that had been haunting her. As we spoke further I realized that the drugs and alcohol were really her attempts at self-medicating for depression. She thought so too, and acknowledged that the official diagnosis and treatment of depression enabled her to finally dropped the drugs.

Depression and Sexual Abuse

But what had caused the depression in the first place? It was then that she shared a bit of her troubled childhood, and of the sexual abuse she had suffered. The trauma finally took its toll when she was a young adult and that’s when the depression symptoms started. Clearly, it had been a long, tough struggle for her to finally come to grips with that experience and not let it drive her life.

But what a great story it was! She had gone from childhood sexual abuse victim, to troubled teen, to out-of-control depressive and substance abuser, to compliant medical patient with a stable history and flourishing life. And as a testimony to her triumph, she qualified for very good life insurance rates.

The stories of sexual abuse survivors, although fraught with tragedy, can be inspiring.

Whose brave tales have you heard?