Child Abuse Affects the Way the Brain Physically Develops

Child Abuse Leaves Mark on the Brain

This is an article that explains how abuse affects the developing brain. It does not have to be physical abuse. Even emotional abuse causes physical changes that affect the person all of his or her life.  These changes in the brain affect how we process life events around us. They can really impede our ability to handle life, which can cause all kinds of problems…even into adulthood. While therapy and counseling may help a person to cope, it won’t change the way the brain physically developed.

I am grateful for these discoveries because this helps me to understand my limitations and why I struggle in some areas. It also leaves hope for finding treatments that can really help. I have heard that the physical treatments used for brains that have suffered physical trauma from an accident are also helping some who have abuse trauma brains, but there is still a long way to go. The physical damage from a brain injury is not identical to the affected development of a traumatized child.

We who suffer from the effects of child abuse are not misfits. We have simply developed differently…not abnormally…just differently. We are very normal for having gone through what we have gone through. Our inability to handle certain things as well as others is not our fault. We are not being lazy or simply needing to “get over it”. A person who limps from a previous leg injury would not be judged for limping and neither should we be judged if our brains are “limping” in certain situations!

I hope that more and more people will learn about this and, as a result, judge us more kindly. We already have a lot to cope with without being judged for something we are unable to change about ourselves. I have worked hard on my healing and am very far along compared to where I was. Yet, I still struggle in certain areas. It is nice to know it is not my fault…that I am not simply “failing” in some way.


About Abigail

I am a woman who loves life and loves to see others love life, too. I love and serve the Creator, the God of the Bible...the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Because of what the Creator has done in my life, I am here to help others now. I hope we can journey together!
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6 Responses to Child Abuse Affects the Way the Brain Physically Develops

  1. Robin Patrick says:

    I was glad to know this too. I’ve had some precious therapy from God through some wonderful counselors and friends. One counselor used EMDR and it’s helped facilitate healing. Thanks for posting this. I agree with you that once you know how it affects you it allows you to accept yourself better — and, of course, realize that the Great Healer cares and is working in you for His glory!

    • Abigail says:

      Amen, Robin! I have worked with some wonderful counselors, but as one pointed out, the L-rd is my real counselor. Most of my best healing work was done with Him and me. Yet, I still found myself fighting things I did not understand…until I learned a few years ago about the physical changes. Ever since then I have been watching for more information on that. It is so helpful to know what is going on and why things are happening the way they are. I am NOT weird (although some might disagree). I am normal for what I have been through. And it is not all emotionally based or mentally based even though the responses can have an emotional/mental aspect to them. PTSD goes hand in hand with the physiology of our brains. It can be managed, but so far, only the L-rd can heal it.

  2. Sojourner says:

    I read an article in Scientific American on this a few years ago and wrote a report on it. “Neurobiology of Child Abuse” I can email it to you. I might post it on my own blog. Here is a portion of my report:
    “Recent studies by Martin Teicher, his colleagues and others suggest that abuse occurring during the period in which the brain develops (early childhood) leaves its mark physically on the brain, down to the neural and molecular level. Symptoms often associated with child abuse include depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, delinquency or problems with authority, impulse control problems, hyperactivity, aggression, and personality disorders.”
    One thing is for sure…that while special therapies exist that are helpful, very few have access to it due to lack of trained professionals and/or misdiagnosis. Healing from the very presence and ministry of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is more complete and quicker. Finding a body of believers who is understands, is trained and practices these things is like finding the treasure of a lifetime.

    • Abigail says:

      Thank you. I got your email with the information. Sadly, there are very few in the “church” who understand the dynamics of abuse and all that it does to its victims. I find you typically have one of two positions. Either you are sent to “therapists” and no one in the body really is prepared to help. Or, you have ones in the body who believe prayer is the only answer for everything and they ignore the research, writing it off as all being emotional/mental. It is interesting because some of those same people would not think twice about someone using crutches for a broken leg or receiving medical treatment…yet not for this. Of course, some won’t even condone going to a doctor.

      True help is found in the middle somewhere. Most of my healing work was done with the Holy Spirit. Yet, G-d also used some wonderful people in my life…a lay counselor and some solid Christian therapists. The one therapist who helped me the most agreed with me that almost everything she was for me I should have been able to find within the body of Yeshua. *sigh*

      And you are correct about most not being able to afford the help. I hear about that all the time. They either cannot afford it or there is no one in their area who understands their trauma and its effects. We all need that treasure of a lifetime. I believe I found it when I most needed it, for which I am very grateful.

  3. Tracie says:

    Really interesting article. It makes sense that damage done during the important developmental years would effect brain growth and development.

    I love how you compared it to someone who limps from a previous leg injury.

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