Effects on brain

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The Truth Shall Set You Free?

Published April 15, 2017 by Nan Mykel

I apologize.  I failed to include one truth from my book Fallout: A Survivor Talks to Incest Offenders and Others. I was afraid one piece of truth I came across might be destructive to victims of severe sexual abuse in childhood, and I didn’t want to depress them even further.  I have since realized that it may be important for those survivors to know and understand the full effects, which are reflected in the following:

“Child Sex Abuse Leaves Mark on the Brain,” by B. Bower, Science News of the Week, Vol. 147 June 3, 1995. “Two new brain-imaging studies, conducted independently, indicate that severe, repeated sexual abuse in childhood underlies damage to a brain structure that helps to orchestrate memory. This cerebral injury may predispose people to experience an altered state of consciousness known as dissociation and to develop symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)”….They had remarkably smaller hippocampal volume. Dr. Murray Stein’s brain-imaging studies at he Univ. of Cal. at San Diego was supported by J. Douglas Brenner of Yale University School of Medicine….Since I didn’t (don’t) consider myself an extreme case of incest, I overlooked the  article. Later in my research I came across even more recent findings about this. I realize now that, with so much discounting of the effects of child sexual abuse, bringing this information forward, instead of depressing survivors, may be experienced as validation for their current feelings.

I lost the reference, but Jamie Talan in Newsday reported that physical, behavioral change can result from sexual abuse during childhood, as well as high testosterone and stress hormone cortisol and an adrenal hormone. Severely sexually abused young girls tend to reach puberty a year or two before their peers. The abused girls have fewer friends, are disliked by teachers and have high  levels of depression and attention deficit disorder.  (Of course this finding may reflect the attention deficit disorder, which would not endear them to teachers either.)

I apologize for leaving the above out of my book.

During therapy, accepting and grieving the loss of what might have been is an important step.

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