Were You the Victim of Childhood Abuse?
By Peggy McAloon, author of “Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals”
The years following my car accident in 1978 were filled with challenges. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I couldn’t remember things for more than a few minutes. I had difficulty with left-side body control, the pain in my neck and back were debilitating, and my words came out backwards.
Those issues were more than enough to bring me to my knees, but it didn’t stop there. Once in awhile I found the courage to add one more complaint when I went to the doctor. There were so many, they had difficulty keeping up and the treatments I received didn’t begin to address everything that was going on.
I was referred to one specialist after another, so I didn’t flinch when I was told I was being sent to yet another. I thought I was being sent to see a neurologist, until I walked in his office and saw a sign that said “psychiatrist”. I was furious. My symptoms were real, and yet I knew in my heart they didn’t make sense compared to the head and back injuries.
I was finally ushered into the inner office but refused the invitation to sit down. My anger had not diminished after seeing the sign.
I very angrily explained to the man sitting behind the desk that I understood my symptoms couldn’t possibly be related to the car wreck, but that the problems were very real. I told him I was not crazy, but the newest debilitating changes in my body were causing even more stress than the head, back, and neck injuries had already created.
I ran out of steam and collapsed in the chair across from his desk, he grinned from ear-to-ear at me. (That made me even more furious. I thought he was laughing at me.)
He welcomed me to his office. (At least he was polite)
What came out of his mouth next were the first positive words I had heard in over a year. He told me I was probably one of the most well-put-together people who had ever walked through his door but that he had a few questions about the symptoms not related to the car accident.
I went through a long list of symptoms and ended with, “Oh yeah, another thing: I’m the sun princess. I love to sit in the sun in the summer, and read a good book. But suddenly I get these horribly itchy blisters.”
Within one hour a blood test had been taken and I was diagnosed with lupus.
One in three women reading this blog were abused by their 18th birthday. This fact is vitally important because of an on-going study being done by the doctors at Kaiser Hospital in San Diego and the Centers for Disease Control. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACE) began in 1992 when doctors at Kaiser began to recognize a correlation between childhood trauma and life-threatening, chronic illnesses in adults. That study is ongoing and as a result of this blog, I was recently contacted to determine if I had any auto-immune problems.
What is it about childhood abuse that would mess with the immune system causing problems when we reach adulthood? Haven’t we already had our fair share of suffering?
Dr. V. J. Felitti of Kaiser, S. R. Dube, D. Fairweather, W.S. Pearson, R. F. Anda, and J. B. Croft presented a study, Cumulative Childhood Stress and Autoimmune Diseases in Adults which reached this conclusion:
“Childhood traumatic stress increased the likelihood of hospitalization with a diagnosed autoimmune disease decades into adulthood. These findings are consistent with recent biological studies on the impact of early life stress on subsequent inflammatory responses.” (1)
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study is an on-going research project. A questionnaire has been developed to help you determine your risk for developing a life-threatening illness as an adult.
The official website http://acestudy.org/ states:
“Over 17,000 Kaiser patients participating in routine health screening volunteered to participate in The Study. Data resulting from their participation continues to be analyzed; it reveals staggering proof of the health, social, and economic risks that result from childhood trauma.”
If you were sexually or physically abused as a child, I urge you to go to their website, click on the ACE Score tab on the left side of the page, and then click on your preferred language to answer the questions. It will only take you a few minutes.
Please share this information with others.