Some scars are invisible. Children who have been victims of child abuse are at higher risk of suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Children suffer deep emotional scars if abused, and are more likely to engage in destructive behaviors, suffer deep insecurities and fears, or fall into drug addiction or alcohol abuse.
A recent study reveals that child abuse scars may have a genetic impact. The researches in the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, presents the theory that some child victims of abuse may be suffering a biologically different form of PTSD. The study subjects were people who had suffered at least two serious traumatic life events. Of the test group of 169 people, 61 developed PTSD, and of this group, 32 had been abused as a child.
The test subjects showed signs of having what is termed epigenetic (related to or arising from nongenetic influences on genes) changes. The DNA itself is not altered, but changes how efficiently the genes are made into proteins. These changes impact a range of physical conditions, including brain development and the risk of certain diseases. Some of the changes can be passed on to future generations as well. There may be new discoveries that will lead to better, more effective treatment for PTSD.
A person who was abused as a child may develop the symptoms of PTSD as time passes. The symptoms can include re-experiencing the trauma of the abuse, and consistently experiencing mental pictures of the abuse incidents interfering with normal thought processes. There may be efforts to avoid any reminders that trigger these memories. This could include avoiding certain places, people, or situations that could elicit the emotional upheaval and pain that was inflicted.
In some cases, the abuse was so traumatic that it was mentally suppressed, and only recalled later – even years later – when some circumstance, conversation or incident causes the memories of the painful events to rise to the surface. These memories are exceptionally painful, difficult and often humiliating, embarrassing or frightening. Talking about what happened is often difficult, but can be very beneficial.
Those who suffered child abuse can face many challenges, including dealing with the symptoms of PTSD. They may have difficulty concentrating, be extremely anxious, have sleep problems, extreme irritability or anger problems, or have a feeling of constantly being “on alert” for dangers in the environment.
There are various healthy therapies that are known to be beneficial for PTSD, many of which do not involve taking depression medication. Spending time in nature, exercise, a good diet and activities that involve physical exercise out-of-doors can go a long way to restoring a feeling of wellbeing. Choose activities that you enjoy, and involve groups where you can meet people who have interest in an active lifestyle and healthy living. Take on the task of helping others in some way, as a volunteer. There are few things that restore the feeling of self-worth than reaching out to help another human being. These activities draw your attention off yourself and are extroverting – and can be of great assistance to those who have been the victims of child abuse.
If you believe you are suffering any of the symptoms of PTSD and were abused as a child, you have the right to seek justice. There is a statute of limitations restricting the period of time in which a lawsuit can be filed against an abuser, but this is a very worthwhile action. Holding the abuser accountable for his or her actions can help you come to terms with what happened, and bring the perpetrator to justice, which is often long overdue. Many people get into contact with a law firm that deals expressly with these cases, and will keep your name completely confidential in all of the legal proceedings.