The Moment Scientists Unearth The Deeper Destruction Done To Abused Children

Scientists have revealed that child abuse doesn’t just leave physical and emotional scars, but molecular ones that may even be passed to future generations through genetic changes.

Child Protective Agencies receive reports that more than 6.6 million children are being abused or in danger of abuse every year – and that doesn’t include an unknowable number who suffer in the dark.

Psychologists have long urged that the damage done in childhood stays with the abused throughout his/her lifetime and the new study shows that it goes right down to the genes passed along to their kids.

Genetic markers of trauma discovered by researchers at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia could someday help catch child and sexual abusers – even decades after the crimes were perpetrated.

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Children that survive this sort of trauma at home as they grow up, can look forward to an adult life free of their abusers – but not, science shows us, free of the lasting effects of abuse.

There is the obvious mental and behavioral fallout: falling into an abusive domestic partnership, depression, PTSD and elevated suicide risks. About 80% of young adults who endured abuse have at least one diagnosable mental disorder.

However, as the new Harvard and UCB study suggests, the impact of abuse on physical health, even decades later, is less obviously traced to abuse, but every bit as debilitating for these survivors, and possibly, even to their children.

Due, in part, to higher levels of the stress hormone- cortisol, they face elevated risks of heart and liver disease as well as COPD, a breathing disorder closely-linked to smoking, which abuse victims are more likely to take up at younger ages.

Overall, childhood abuse survivors face a harder, shorter life, with some studies estimating that their life expectancy is cut by an average of 2 decades.

READ ALSO: If You Are a Child Abuser, the Authorities Are Coming After You | See Why

Only in the last several years have scientists really begun to unearth the deeper destruction done to abuse victims, discovering that trauma penetrates to a cellular and even molecular level.

Often, victims of sexual assault and childhood abuse alike are scared into remaining silent for years, even decades. Even when they do eventually come forward, investigations and trials become matters of he-said she-said, but identifying biological markers of abuse could change that. 

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