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research showing that abuse affects us biologically

Old 05-09-2011, 05:49 PM
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research showing that abuse affects us biologically

Bookwyrm's wonderful thread on Lundy Bancroft's "Why Does He DO That?"... well, has been wonderful. I saw this article today and wanted to post it in part as an addition to the info she's posted there.

I hadn't known this at the time, although I had sensed that I had lost myself, that I was disappearing:

"research is proving exactly how emotional and physical abuse physiologically changes the brain. Using MRI scans, neuroscientists like Alan Simmons, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, have found that repeated abuse makes a victim more prone to being withdrawn, forgetful and so stuck in negative thinking that she can't even see how a situation could improve. Many survivors look back and say they were in a fog; often the phrase is "I lost myself." "There is something biological," says Simmons. "It's not a sign of weakness. It's akin to what happens to the brain during war.""Liz Brody: Relationship Violence: The Secret That Kills 4 Women a Day
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Old 05-09-2011, 06:28 PM
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Boy can I relate to that!

XABF used to give me lists of things he wanted me to do - call this number, book this hotel, do this, do that - and would get mad at me at the end of the day because I forgot to do them. I'd write them down and I still wouldn't do them. I couldn't remember to brush my teeth in the morning half the time! And that's part of my daily, regular routine.
I still forget things, but not as often as I used to. I'd say I'm a lot closer to normal now, although I still have a little ways to go yet.

I was so withdrawn, and completely depressed. I stopped talking to people, stopped reaching out to anyone, at first because I was so depressed it seemed like it didn't matter anyway, and then because I didn't even thing of it anymore, it just wasn't something I did at that point. When I was out with XABF with his family, I wouldn't talk to anyone, part of it because I didn't want to, I wanted to withdraw - although of course the other part was because whenever I spoke he told me that I took too long to get out my thoughts, and that nobody cared what I had to say, anyway.

Don't even get me started on negative thinking. I never want to go back to those dark places again.


While I did figure those feelings and reactions were fairly normal in an abusive relationship, it's reassuring to know that the degree I felt them is understandable, and that the fact it took me so long to pull myself out of it does not mean there was something wrong with me.

This post comes with great timing. Thank you so much, blueblooms.
I was doing an exercise today, writing down the things he did for me that made me feel loved, and I couldn't think of a single thing he'd done in the last six months that made me feel like I was appreciated. Not a single thing. And yet I stayed anyway, and I've been trying to figure out why in the world would I stay in a relationship where I felt worthless fairly consistently for the last six months.
It's good to have an answer, and better to know that it's not a fault with my thinking so much as an actual change in my brain and thinking process.

Now, to go finish fixing that change, so I can be back to my usual, happy, cheerful, friendly, self-sufficient and self-caring self.
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Old 05-09-2011, 08:06 PM
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There's a study done on dogs where the dogs are in kennels and food is placed outside a door -- but any time a dog sticks its head through the door, they get an electric shock. Some dogs just need to be shocked once to back away; other dogs try numerous times, but in the end, all dogs choose starvation over the physical pain they know is going to come if they try to get to the food.

And after a while, the electricity is turned off, and the dogs will still choose to starve rather than risk the pain.

Once conditioned to learned helplessness, the dogs will bite anyone trying to get them through the door to the food. They need to be put on a leash and basically pulled through the door by the leash. Some dogs get it the first time and go, "Hey! Wow! Look! No pain! Awesome!" and after that walk out to eat. Other dogs have to be pulled through 10 times. 20. 30.

But the good part is that all dogs eventually un-learned the helpless behavior. It just took some longer than others.
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Old 05-09-2011, 09:32 PM
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Ok, Can't help but think of this. Gotta post. From my favorite movie "When Harry Met Sally",

Harry: Why can't we get past this? I mean, are we gonna carry this thing around forever?
Sally: Forever? It just happened.Harry: It happened three weeks ago. You know how a year to a person is like seven years to a dog?
Sally: Yes. Is one of us supposed to be a dog in this scenario?
Harry: Yes.
Sally: Who is the dog?
Harry: You are.
Sally: I am? I am the dog? I am the dog?
Harry: Um-hmm.


Yup, I feel like the dog in the scenario a lot, lillamy.
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Old 05-09-2011, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
There's a study done on dogs where the dogs are in kennels and food is placed outside a door -- but any time a dog sticks its head through the door, they get an electric shock. Some dogs just need to be shocked once to back away; other dogs try numerous times, but in the end, all dogs choose starvation over the physical pain they know is going to come if they try to get to the food.

And after a while, the electricity is turned off, and the dogs will still choose to starve rather than risk the pain.

Once conditioned to learned helplessness, the dogs will bite anyone trying to get them through the door to the food. They need to be put on a leash and basically pulled through the door by the leash. Some dogs get it the first time and go, "Hey! Wow! Look! No pain! Awesome!" and after that walk out to eat. Other dogs have to be pulled through 10 times. 20. 30.

But the good part is that all dogs eventually un-learned the helpless behavior. It just took some longer than others.
The good news is the brain is plastic. It changes and grows as we change and grow. Exchange old patterns of thinking and behavior with new ones and you will change your brain literally. One of the best ways to improve brain growth and brain organization is to hang out with people who HAVE well formed and organized brains. You'll know them because they are calm, make good decisions, kind etc.

Find at least ONE person in your life you can trust and count on. That helps too. We can all learn how to get past abusive pasts. Just take time, mindfulness and some courage.
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Old 05-10-2011, 03:58 AM
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This rings so true. I have a dear, sweet friend who is a bright, bubbly physical therapist. She married young and her husband was controlling beyond what any of us could have imagined until they finally separated 10 years later. Horrible emotional abuse - she walked on eggshells for all that time. After they split up, she met someone new, they married and had a beautiful baby - and she was diagnosed with MS not long after. Zero family history. More than one of our friends has wondered aloud whether those 10 years of stress contributed - I absolutely believe that they did.

Emotional trauma shows up in the body in so many ways. There was a great thread on here about physical signs of stress after being with an A and there were lots of "I thought I was crazy" posts. Ringing in the ears was the one that I remember most, along with facial tics. There is no doubt in my mind that emotional abuse affects our physical health over the short and long term.

By the grace of God, never again.

SL.
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:50 AM
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I am attest to that, I am extremely forgetful, I used to have a great memory. I had attributed the memory loss to having "mommy brain" but really, I think it's this. And being withdrawn, oh gosh yes.
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Old 05-10-2011, 07:41 AM
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I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue after 20 years of marriage to an A. That was when I realized my H's alcoholism was taking a toll on me in ways I could not defend myself against. And that's when I decided to leave.
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Old 05-10-2011, 08:08 PM
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forgetfulness

Originally Posted by blueblooms14 View Post
"research is proving exactly how emotional and physical abuse physiologically changes the brain. Using MRI scans, neuroscientists like Alan Simmons, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, have found that repeated abuse makes a victim more prone to being withdrawn, forgetful and so stuck in negative thinking that she can't even see how a situation could improve. ""Liz Brody: Relationship Violence: The Secret That Kills 4 Women a Day


Thank God you posted that. I seriously thought I was getting senile. I have been riduculously forgetful and unable to learn as quickly as I did before............him. :ghug3:ghug3

I got a glass of tea and sat it on the computer desk, went to the restroom, went to the kitchen got a glass of tea and came back to the computer to find I had 2 glasses of tea.

I told my girlfriend I thought I was seriously facing senility...she said it is just stress.

But why did it only appear after I left him? or am I just now having peace enough to notice it?

I am assuming this too shall pass, though it may take time, once the trauma is removed.
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