From coast to coast and around the world, childhood abuse is occurring at alarming rates. In fact, despite the worldwide awareness efforts of the last 100 years, child abuse is still occurring as much as it always has. Some studies indicate that, within certain demographics, different types of child abuse are actually on the rise. This means that there is a growing need for childhood abuse treatment. Indeed, trauma from childhood abuse doesn't stay in our teen years; it follows us into adulthood.
Early life experiences dramatically affect and shape our brains as adults. The brain is what is known as an experience-dependent organ. Your brain is influenced by experiences, and much of brain development occurs after birth. Therefore, early life experiences affect which connections occur among different parts of the brain, whether they occur, and how strong they are.
This is why a child's ability to control and regulate their emotions is determined by certain connections between different brain parts. Again, early life experiences affect this.
Because the brain is so closely attached to all these things, it can affect many areas of a child's life, including the way they perform in school. As we get older, childhood abuse can affect our personal relationships with others, our professional relationships, our performance at work, our ability to keep employment, and even our ability to relate to and empathize with the world around us.
Think about it this way; we all have a limited amount of mental energy. If that mental energy is bound up in anxiety and fear about safety and security or bound up with all the negative experiences that are still occurring or that have occurred in one's life; there is less of that mental energy available for things like learning, memorizing, and problem-solving. If our brains have been wired to self-destruct, be in fight or flight mode all the time, or be anxious around others; how can we be successful at work or in our relationships?
Childhood abuse and trauma can spill over into adulthood, as they often do, and last a lifetime. These early experiences serve to wire the brain in unfavorable ways. However, with professional mental health treatment, the brain can be rewired, and destructive thoughts and behaviors can be replaced with healthy thoughts and behaviors.
This isn't to say that a person will forget or even completely overcome childhood abuse. Let's face it; some abuse, such as sex abuse, physical abuse, or even psychological and emotional abuse leaves scars on us that will never go away. By facing our fears and reliving those events under the caring direction of a highly skilled professional, we can reassess our abuse and change our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about it. Rather than letting our traumatizing experience control our lives, we can control it.
If you would like to get help from trauma you suffered as a child, contact Dr. Arlene Drake, a psychotherapist with more than 30 years of practice. Attend counseling sessions over the phone, via Skype, or in-person.