A new study by the University of Utah confirms that abuse before the age of 5 can continue to have negative consequences decades later .
This is no surprise to abuse victims. We know we cannot simply “snap out” of depression, anxiety, and PTSD despite the well-meaning advice of friends, family, physicians, and strangers alike. That fact only adds to our sense of isolation.
Researchers found that:
“…those who experienced abuse or neglect early in life consistently were less successful in their social relationships and academic performance during childhood, adolescence and even during adulthood. The effects of maltreatment did not weaken as the participants got older .”
The sad little boy or girl becomes the sad, lonely and/or angry man or woman. Unfortunately, that anger is often turned inward, becoming another destructive force against which we must battle.
This has nothing to do with will power or self-control, and everything to do with who we were taught to believe we are. Damaged, deficient, unloved and unlovable — our needs unimportant, our dreams unattainable. Directly and indirectly, those lessons were driven home until they became part of us.
But the human spirit is amazing. We somehow survived the onslaught, the dark rain of blows and insults. Many of us succeeded in the work place. Some found the internal resources to become artists, writers, and advocates. Still more became the parents our own parents could not be.
That we continue to wrestle with our demons is no shame. It is simply part of our reality.
“He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40: 29).
[1 and 2] Science Daily, “Tracking the impact of early abuse and neglect – Study led by university researcher shows negative effects may persist into adulthood”, 1/16/18, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180116222327.htm.
With thanks to Louise Callen
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