I am a survivor of extremely severe ritualistic childhood abuse and sadistic systematic torture. Without God's intervention in my life I wouldn't be here - NOW is the time for me to tell MY story by speaking the TRUTH about MY life. I will be silenced no more! On this blog I share MY life, MY healing journey; helpful quotes/stuff I come across and MY thoughts along the way. The more I speak out the more liberated I am from the shame and trauma of the abuse. My broken wings are gradually being restored. This blog has helped me begin to get my voice back and documents the journey God is taking me on to heal me from the trauma and damage caused by that most appalling abuse.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

LONG TERM EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD ABUSE

Here’s a couple of very interesting articles which consider how childhood trauma affects old people. I thought the findings were relevant whatever age you are. Also I thought the findings backed up my own experience of the effects getting worse with age not better. What’s really helpful for me about these articles is that research is being done into the long term affects of childhood abuse which totally ties in with my own life experience. I do not need research to tell me this but it is good to have my own experience validated by research. I find a little validation goes a long way on my healing journey.

Seniors Abused During Childhood Face Increased Risk of Sleep Troubles, Study Suggests

An analysis of data from 877 adults age 60 years and above found that early parental emotional abuse was associated with a higher number of sleep complaints in old age. It was specifically emotional abuse -- rather than physical abuse or emotional neglect -- that was tied to trouble in getting a good night's sleep. "A negative early attachment continues to exert an influence on our well being decades later through an accumulation of stressful interpersonal experiences across our lives," said Cecilia Y. M. Poon, MA, the study's lead author. "The impact of abuse stays in the system. Emotional trauma may limit a person's ability to fend for themselves emotionally and successfully navigate the social world". Emotional abuse was assessed by asking participants how often their mother and father insulted or swore at them, sulked or refused to talk to them, stomped out of the room, did or said something to spite them, threatened to hit them, or smashed or knocked something in anger. The same survey found that emotional abuse during childhood also was associated with poorer relationships in adulthood. Poon speculated that this lack of support, associated with stress, likely influences sleep quality.

Older People Surviving Child Sexual Abuse

“If you were sexually abused as a child, you are still suffering from its impact as an adult. Childhood sexual abuse is such an overwhelming, damaging, and humiliating assault on a child's mind, soul and body that he or she cannot escape emotional damage. The abuse invades every facet of one's sexuality, one's ability to be successful, one's ability to trust others, and physical health. Whether you actually remember the abuse or not, the damage caused by the abuse only increases with time. As the damage becomes even more noticeable, your life becomes progressively more unmanageable. You begin to realize that time alone cannot heal the wounds, and that a history of sexual abuse is not something you can "learn to live with." On the contrary, as time goes by, the emotional damage takes a heavier toll on you. Pain that has been hidden for years suddenly becomes unbearable.
Older survivors may have come from an era where sexual assault was not spoken about, myths abounded unchallenged that kept them ashamed and silent, and there were no resources, meaning that people victimized in this way could not find counselling. Stop and take care of the little boy or girl inside you who was abused.
You may be bothered by thoughts that you should be over it, but as the above quote says, child sexual abuse is a wound that time alone doesn't heal. I once spoke to a rape survivor new to healing in her fifties who said to me "If I have only twenty years left, I'm going to make damn sure they're good ones." You deserve good years too - you have been through enough - both the abuse and the decades of its impact on your life. You have been through this alone - you don't need to be alone with it anymore. Break this long silence, my friend. The fact that our experiences can still hurt so badly at times says nothing negative about our characters. It tells us much more about the nature of trauma. We are not failures because we are hurting now. That we have managed to live full, though affected lives is testament to strength. What does "get over it" even mean? We know that this is a cliché offered to abuse survivors with boring regularity.
If people have shamed you by telling you to "get over it" or questioning the fact that you aren't yet "over it", not only are they wrong, but you have experienced Secondary Wounding, which is the messages trauma survivors receive from others that compound their pain. Is getting "over it" the same thing as healing? I am recently persuaded that the answer is no. I saw and experienced things that I have done so much healing around, but I am not "over" them in the sense that people generally mean that, and I don't believe I ever will be. And that feels very okay to me. Child abuse can be such a terrifying ordeal, such a profound betrayal. It accrues tremendous losses, and getting "over it" may be neither possible nor desirable, certainly not when it means we beat ourselves up for failing to be "over it." We don't hang onto our histories for the fun of it; we want to heal and learn to manage the worst ravages. We strive, we have victories, and yet if memory and feeling recycle later in life, we need to respect that this is part of being a survivor, and get through it, not over it. It may be that we need to accept that a history of child sexual abuse can have longer-term impact on us than we might once have thought. 
Part of the reason for feeling traumatized now for events in even the distant past is physical. Our bodies were not designed to handle repeated severe stressors. Research findings indicate that the stress of early childhood trauma such as child sexual abuse can cause actual physical changes in the brain. Traumatic memory appears to be stored differently than ordinary memory. One consequence of this is that when we're in situations that remind us - even in not-so-obvious ways, of the actual traumatic experiences we've had, those memory tracts open up, causing us to feel as if it were happening again. Your brain is acting the way that those of many trauma survivors do."


6 comments:

Eve said...

"The abuse invades every facet of one's sexuality, one's ability to be successful, one's ability to trust others, and physical health. "

so true!!!

Princess Fi said...

Yes it certainly is, there is no part of life it does not permeate!

Angela said...

Thank you for sharing this!

Princess Fi said...

Hi Angela, I'm glad you found it helpful and welcome to my blog!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I had such terrible childhood. I won't go into details, but I agree. It comes out as you get older. I feel people like myself never had the experiance to know childhood. I am going thru a tough period. I am so tired.., that I don't want to do anything. Going thru a bad period.

Princess Fi said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for sharing, glad you found it helpful, wishing you well!