The effects of child abuse can last a lifetime. Neglected or abused children have a higher risk of developing all sorts of ailments as adults, including mental illnesses such as depression but also physical ones like cancer and stroke. In fact, the effects may last even longer. Emerging evidence suggests that the consequences of mistreatment in childhood may persist down the generations, affecting a victim’s children or grand-children, even if they have experienced no abuse themselves.
“While it’s often thought that mutations are where all the action is, the interaction between our genes and the larger world is going on in real time beneath the radar, frequently with health consequences that can be as severe as cancer even if they are less perceptible to those suffering from them.”