Emotional trauma

A child who witnesses or experiences emotional or physical abuse, or struggles through neglect, will often show signs of trauma as an adult. Dealing with any type of abuse means we will be affected, whether we realise we are or not. Emotional trauma escapes no-one.

Children will begin to evaluate what everything means out of the events they witness and in doing so, we create an internal map of how our world looks to us. If a child has the love and support they’re supposed to have, their internal map will look and feel normal, but sadly not all children get that.

For any child, it’s important they begin to change their internal map as they grow, so that by the time they become an adult, they have created a new internal map. The old ways of interpreting the world if it’s not recorded properly, will inevitably damage the way children emotionally function as adults and speaking from experience, it’s not easily changed.

Sadly, because of abuse, damaged children will create a version of themselves that they think their parents or family will love and accept. They in effect become the person their family wants them to be. That way, they don’t have to think about or change anything and their family get what they want. Those children will continue to bury how they feel, just so that their needs will be met.

In those circumstances, instead of thinking about their own needs or what their needs are, children will continue to concentrate on other people’s needs, aiming to please and just so that they will be accepted. Because they will fail to acknowledge or connect emotionally, it’s not something they will consciously recognise.

When anyone continues to bury their emotions, they begin to lose touch with reality, of who they are. I believe though, that no matter the age, it’s important we challenge ourselves so that if we’re not connecting with our feelings, we begin to connect, in a way that makes us feel normal, whole and safe, particularly around abuse.


18 Jul, 2017

6 thoughts on “Emotional trauma

  1. I was certainly neglected as a child, but that taught me to make decisions for myself from an early age. I have certainly been affected by my childhood.

    1. Unless we’ve had the most idyllic childhood and we’re not subjected to abuse through neglect, we will always be affected.

      As you say though, in your case you’re parents’ inability to parent you, gave you the platform to live your life the way you chose to live it. It’s not always easy for others of course when we are too independent, but you escaped being conditioned and having to behave a certain way.

      From my own experiences, I believe we can work to change certain aspects of our lives and be better people, regardless of our starting point. We’re all capable of change.

  2. Our adopted son was removed from his home due to medical and general neglect. It was really bad. I started working with him as his nurse and he was kept in his bed in a dark room constantly.

    I opened the curtains as soon as I started with him, letting him see the light. He would look out his window often and to this day, he loves looking out the window, even when we’re driving places he doesn’t play with anything, he just looks out the window.

    He started doing a lot better and his vision improved. At first the doctors had said he was only seeing shadows of things, but now he is almost normal vision wise. He still has glasses though.

    Before we could adopt him we had to go through a class on parenting, but it was really about parenting children in foster care and adoption.

    Children also display manners that they’ve been around. Our son is great at saying things we say sometimes. For example, we tell the dogs to hush when they are barking for no reason, so our son tells his CNA to hush! It’s funny when he says it. Everybody laughs, but I know we have to teach him different and not encourage it.

    I’ve known kids that were in DSS care in foster homes that were abused by their parents and they would do things or act in a terrible way, partly for attention, but a lot of times it’s because that’s how their parents acted or treated them. They didn’t know any better and it’s hard to get them to change.

    The behavior is almost ingrained in them.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Yes, his behaviour is ingrained because he’s not had the discipline. This is what happens when adults choose not to discipline their children and subsequently children get away with things.

      But in your case, with a special needs child and emotional abuse sustained in his early childhood, has brought your son to this place; so what you have is partly bad behaviour and a child with special needs.

      A child who has special needs will always need extra help, but will still need the right amount of discipline. A child with special needs, rather than think for themselves will mimic what we say and therefore you’re right, you have to be careful to make sure that what he hears are the things that you know are acceptable.

      Your life is slightly more difficult because you don’t know how much is down to his needs and how much is learned, but then it would be up to you to make sure that his CNA is up to the job, so that he or she disciplines in a way that is totally acceptable.

      If any child is badly behaved they must be brought to task. As your son gets older it will become even more important, because an adult with special needs is always more challenging, than when they’re a child.

  3. Yes, I can say that I was extremely traumatized as a child, by being exposed to the worst humanity has to offer on a daily basis, for most of my childhood.

    My parents seemed to be pretty oblivious to what was going on around us, while we were basically thrown to the wolves and expected to fend for ourselves. This is one of a million reasons why I despise comments like, ‘they did the best they could with what they had,’ when that was so far from the case.

    I try so very hard to let things go, but I had an excellent memory as a kid and I haven’t been able to forget any of it. Eventually, I had to learn how to dissociate or else go stark raving mad because of everything. This was a very good and very bad thing, seeing as I could have just as easily turned out to be the ‘Dexter Morgan’ type.

    Somehow I didn’t cross that line, but came about as close as you could and my parents never seemed to even notice. I knew they really didn’t get it after my first suicide attempt and my dad actually asked me why I did it and I didn’t know what to say to him.

    Now, the reality is that I spent most of my life suppressing my emotions, basically trying to live like a vulcan and have to work on learning how to be a human being! My parents didn’t really give us that chance, with my mom brainwashing me into being her emotional teddy bear and my Dad letting it happen trying to make her happy.

    Label it what you will, but they take away children from their parents for far less nowadays. I just want to be able to enjoy living my life for once and be able to feel comfortable in my own skin.

    1. Thanks Randy. The hardest part is being confronted and not knowing what to say. Your father clearly didn’t get ‘you’ or your issues with him and your mum.

      I feel for you Randy. Your comment about your father asking you why you tried to commit suicide, must have been very difficult for you. It’s also sad that nothing clicked with your dad, or why he didn’t question himself, or what he could do to help, or what he could have done differently.

      You didn’t fail Randy, don’t ever believe that. Your parents not only failed as parents, but failed you. All you can do now of course is try to change for yourself what your parents should have changed for you.

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