A recent article by MSNBC’s Joan Raymond informs us of results from a recent study about the long-lasting effects of sexual abuse.
For 23 years, the study followed 80 girls who were victims of sexual abuse as children. Compared to the control group, they had distorted levels of cortisol–the stress hormone, levels which Dr. Frank Putnam describes as resembling those of Vietnam Vets. These victims were more likely to be sexually active at younger ages, have lower educational status, and have more mental health problems.
I do not post this as some sort of surprising results or shocking revelation. I think it is intuitive. But I think is wise to take note of the science that confirms what common sense has already told us. In this case, it is that unfortunately the awful effects of abuse last for decades, and probably as many victims themselves have said for a lifetime.
Incidentally, the facts about the cortisol levels makes me wonder if maybe in the future routine testing of cortisol levels may become a way to identify at-risk children and teens.
What do you think?