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What happens to your brain and body after a traumatic experience like sexual assault, according to science – Tech – Pulselive.co.ke

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  • As Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about an alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh in high school, we looked at a few of the ways that memories can be shaped by trauma.
  • Traumatic memories are not stored in the same way as other things we remember.
  • Research shows us that they’re more intense, persistent, and can be impossible to put into words.

Christine Blasey Ford said she didn’t really want to come forward with decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct aimed at Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, she felt she had to.

“I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school,” Ford said Thursday during sworn testimony in front of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kavanaugh, meanwhile, says the accusations of sexual assault — from Ford and othersare false, and nothing more than “smears” intended to derail his nomination.

But science suggests it’s also possible that he remembers much less of what really happened in the summer of 1982 than Ford.

Putting aside for a moment the specifics of the case at hand, and what really happened at one suburban Maryland prep school party, the truth is that any sexual assault can have long-lasting effects on the brain, the body, and memories of an event.

Here’s what we know about how sexual trauma can affect a person’s body and a brain, according to experts who work with trauma survivors as well as the latest research.

Our memories are imperfect, human devices

Neuroscientists haven’t entirely figured out how our brains work.

It’s impossible to pin down one exact place where a memory lands and lives in our grey matter, because the brain acts more like a network than a filing cabinet. We do know that one area of the brain, called the hippocampus, is involved in keeping track of our memories.

In a state of heightened emotion, such as an attack or an assault, the stress hormones we release can strengthen connections in that area of the brain, even growing extra nerve cell extensions (dendrites) and leading to a chronic state of hyper-vigilance.

The body has a few options when presented with a threat like that: freeze, fly, or fight.

The heart quickens, and we’re breathing swiftly, readying to fight back, run, or hide. Blood may start flowing out to the extremities as we prepare.

Memories of this period of “high emotional intensity” can have a kind of “enhanced encoding,” making them more salient and clear, as researchers wrote in a 2018 paper in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

A deluge of long-term effects

Studies show that survivors of sexual assaults can suffer all kinds of troubling health effects. They have demonstrated higher rates of obesity and Type-2 diabetes, gastrointestinal issues (like irritable bowel syndrome), depression, and chronic pain. Trauma survivors can even be less likely to seek preventive care, because anything from a routine teeth cleaning to a pelvic exam can be a re-traumatizing experience of touch.

David Emerson, a yoga teacher at the Trauma Center of the Justice Resource Institute in Massachusetts, has studied how yoga might be able to help trauma survivors by allowing them to reconnect with their bodies. He says there are essentially two ways that trauma victims conjure up memories. One is explicit — the memories that we have words for and can share with others. The other kind of memory is a more implicit form.

“Implicit memories are things we don’t have words for, but that our bodies know,” he said. “Our bodies will react, but we might not have language for what’s happening, we just might shut down, or we might withdraw, we could lash out, whatever the response. There may be no language, but that would be considered a traumatic memory enacted.”

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The ways that implicit memory works inside our body are still not fully understood, he says,but there seems to be a distinction between traumatic memories and non-traumatic memories.”

When we are reminded of a traumatic memory, it often triggers some kind of flashback, and along with it, a bodily response.

“It’s your whole organism that remembers the experience,” Emerson said.

Often, the first and most persistent memories of a traumatic event come as feelings, tastes, sounds. That’s what Ford said she remembers most about the night of her alleged attack.

“The details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget,” Ford said in prepared remarks Thursday. “They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me, especially as an adult.”

In her testimony, Ford mentioned the sound of laughter as what she remembered the most from the alleged incident.

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” Ford said on Thursday. “The uproarious laughter between the two [boys] and their having fun at my expense.”

That tracks with what we know about the power of a traumatic memory.

“Those kinds of things, they seem to be incredibly persistent, more reliable than narrative memory,” Emerson said.

Trauma is tougher when you feel powerless

Many psychologists and therapists operate under the assumption that the best way to deal with trauma is to talk about it. But there’s really no reward for sexual assault survivors who choose to process their trauma out loud. It’s been much better to remain silent, speechless, and keep those memories hidden.

Ahead of the Thursday hearing, 85 year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg spoke up about that very problem.

“Every woman of my vintage has not just one story but many stories,” she told a crowd of law students at Georgetown on Wednesday. “But we thought there was nothing you could do about it — boys will be boys — so just find a way to get out of it.”

In other words, the effects of feeling stuck and incapacitated are much larger than a neuro-biological issue. Trauma isn’t always something that happens in a single person’s nervous system. It can be ingrained in a culture.

“The abuse of power is so rampant and so obvious and so constant,” Emerson said. “In the past, pushing back against that power has been a futile exercise.”

He thinks we’re seeing some of the first signs that’s no longer the case, as with Ford’s testimony.

“People are feeling the impact of chronic power abuse,” he said. “But for some reason, some people have access to [say] ‘no more. That’s not going to happen anymore.'”



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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