I’ve discussed lately some of the emotional effects child abuse and neglect cause adult survivors, but what about our bodies? Now I’m going to answer the question how does childhood trauma impact us physically as adults?
First, we’ll explore the long-term physical problems brought on by the harm perpetrated against our bodies, then I’m going to talk about the most urgent damages.
You know, it’s funny, I said I was going to post less but I appear to be posting more. Go figure.
The Long-Term Physical Effects of a Traumatic Childhood
While survivors of childhood trauma are more likely to form substance abuse issues, that isn’t the only way we are harmed. There are physical effects from living through the horrors of child abuse.
The stress that our little bodies underwent so long ago was extreme and it is unlikely that our adrenaline and other stress hormone levels ever returned to baseline. Adrenaline caused our hearts to race and other reactions to prepare us for the fight/flight/freeze/fawn response.
When a child’s body is constantly being pumped full of stress hormones it causes wear and tear on their body and ages our systems faster. This chronic stress causes increased inflammation in our bodies which is associated with physical problems such as heart disease, and autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or Multiple Sclerosis.
Other diseases related to experiencing trauma in adulthood include:
As if the immediate health problems from childhood trauma on adult health weren’t enough, it also causes changes to our DNA.
The Physical Problems that Aren’t Discussed
It’s obvious that surviving the inconceivable tragedy of severe childhood trauma leaves long-lasting and dire physical health problems. However, what about the other damages done to our bodies?
In my case, I was not able to become pregnant because I am so injured inside from the trauma. I also have severe damage to my neck vertebra and have two huge bone spurs from the torture one of my abusers put me through just for fun.
I’ve heard of survivors needing to live with scarring from burns, loss of hearing, and even missing limbs because of what happened to them as children.
Then there are the effects of neglect. I lost my teeth in 1985 when I was 25 years old because my oral hygiene had been neglected.
There were so many things I was not taught growing up that negatively impacted and still impact my life today. Everything from not knowing I was supposed to wash my hands after using the toilet until I was in my early thirties to an understanding the nuisances of consensual sex.
Sometimes I Feel Angry
Every time my neck aches or the pain from it morphs into a migraine, I feel angry. Every time I think about my not having children, I feel infuriated.
Every time I consider my lost teeth and need for dentures, I feel enraged.
It’s okay to feel and be angry over such enormous injustices as you and I have lived through in our lifetimes. We did not ask to be born, and the people who caused our birth should be more than ashamed at what they have done to us, they should be humiliated.
No one, and I mean, no one, has the right to treat another human being as less than human or like an object they can use for their own devices. That is true whether the ones being abused are their own kids or someone else’s. Period.
The Best Revenge
I have spent time planning revenge against those who harmed me, but the only person I injured was myself. By allowing my rage to turn me into a monster, I would only be duplicating those whom I despise.
I do not hate the people who hurt me either. I know that is the first instinct any of us have when confronted with the knowledge of how we’ve been raised and abused.
No, the best revenge is to take great care of me. That’s how I can give my abusers the finger the best, by now allowing what they did to me rule over my life today.
Healing from this shit takes forever, in fact, there is not ever going to be a day when I am completely healed. I also find myself having problems with severe anxiety and depression that will probably continue the rest of my life, but by moving forward instead of allowing what happened to destroy me, I am saying F you to those who treated me like a worthless piece of meat.
I am angry, I am injured, but I am also a victor and success story.
So, my friends, are you.
“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.” ~ Bear Bryant
“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” ~ Marcus Aurelius