A common misconception about emotional trauma is that if it happened to children, they’ll simply forget it. That’s not true at all. In fact, the effects of unresolved emotional trauma echo well into adulthood. Not everyone is ready to face the roots of their trauma right away. However, the first step to healing is understanding.
What Is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma is often characterised into three types:
One-time events – A child might find it difficult to cope with an unexpected event that only happened once. This includes accidents, an intense physical attack, or a serious injury.
Relentless stress – A child growing up in an abusive or a mentally-unhealthy environment experience immense stress that can lead to trauma. This includes living in an unsafe neighbourhood, witnessing domestic violence, experiencing bullying at school, and being neglected. Battling a serious illness as a child can also result in trauma.
Overlooked events – Sometimes, adults overestimate a child’s resilience and think that the child will forget. Unfortunately, the unaddressed feelings leave the child traumatised.
Specific examples of overlooked events include undergoing an operation at a young age, death of a loved one, and humiliating experiences.
Many people experience trauma as a child, but very few actually get emotional help. Left unaddressed, trauma can get worse over time.
Signs That an Adult Is Struggling With Unhealed Childhood Trauma
An adult suffering from childhood trauma often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. These five are some of the most common among childhood trauma survivors:
Accepting the Role of a Victim – A person who suffered childhood trauma often think of themselves as a victim, not a survivor. So, they fall into a trap of believing that they deserved the traumatic event and everything bad that’s about to happen.
Once the person embraced victimhood, they often attract unhealthy relationships. Unfortunately, this creates a new cycle of emotional trauma.
Creating a ‘False Self’ – Childhood trauma survivors, especially of neglect, often seek external validation. To achieve this, they embody a ‘false self’ to become what they think is more desirable to people.
They also try to bury their emotions in fear that they’ll lose the people who like their ‘false self’.
Passive-Aggressiveness – Growing up in a household where anger isn’t processed healthily gives children the wrong idea of how to express this emotion. For example, if they often witnessed violent fits of rage, they’ll think anger is abnormal and will try to suppress it.
Passivity – A child that experienced trauma will find it hard to find a ‘safe place’ or find the will to trust others. So, they end up abandoning themselves, hoping to leave the pain and fear behind.
Adult survivors grow up to be passive, eventually abandoning their potential and forever hesitating to reach out.
Repressed Childhood Memories – Children who suffered extremely traumatising events repress the memories to cope. Their adult-selves will experience blanks when trying to remember their childhood.
Emotional Support for Childhood Trauma Survivors
The roots of trauma run deep, but remember that the path of healing is just waiting for you. If you or someone you know is facing difficulties in coping with childhood trauma, do not hesitate to seek emotional help.
Talking for Therapy’s UK-based advisors will listen without judgement and help you navigate your thoughts and feelings. Book an appointment when you’re ready and let’s talk about YOU.