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  • Jayne Green (B.Ed;M.Ed)

Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Brain Development

Brain Development After Childhood Sexual Abuse

When a child is sexually abused, it profoundly impacts their emotions and mental state, but it can also cause physical changes to their developing brain. Childhood sexual abuse is a risk factor for the development of psychopathology and can have a negative impact on brain development and functionality. Here's what you need to know.

Trauma and Brain Development

There are several ways in which childhood sexual abuse can impact the brain. One way is by causing stress. When a child experiences trauma, their body goes into "fight or flight" mode, releasing stress hormones like cortisol. This can lead to changes in the structure and function of the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning.

Another way that childhood sexual abuse impacts the brain is by affecting the development of the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for executive functioning, such as planning and decision-making. Studies have shown that abuse can lead to changes in the structure and function of the prefrontal cortex, which can impact a person's ability to make decisions and control their impulses. Childhood sexual abuse can also cause changes in how the brain processes emotions.

The Amygdala Processes Emotional Information

The Amygdala is responsible for processing emotional information. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often face long-term emotional difficulties including but not limited to: Anxiety, Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Thoughts of Suicide and Substance Abuse.

The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse - Seeking Justice After Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a traumatizing event that can leave physical, emotional, and psychological damage in its wake. Most survivors feel confused and don't know where to turn for help. Despite it being difficult to speak out against a person's perpetrator, doing so can often bring them to justice and help the victim of child abuse begin the recovery process.

Jayne Green (B.Ed; M.Ed)

Master Degree Counsellor

Psychoeducation Therapist



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