Updated: May 30
What is childhood trauma?
Childhood trauma is caused by any situation in which a child perceives they’re in a frightening, dangerous or overwhelming position.
These traumatic events cause children to feel helpless and scared in a way that is way beyond their mental and emotional processing. These situations can occur in one-off events like natural disasters and injuries — or they could occur from regular instances of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. All can bring on symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma, and all these events can haunt children well into their adult lives.
The types of childhood trauma.
Childhood trauma looks different for everyone, but there are some main events that have the most lasting effect.
1. Physical abuse —This occurs when someone (anyone) who has authority over you uses it to injure you physically.
2. Physical neglect — When our caregivers fail to give us the physical resources we need to survive (like food, clothing or a place to live) this is physical neglect.
3. Emotional abuse — Emotional manipulation is abuse too. When someone intentionally causes shame, or embarrassment they're abusing you. Emotional abuse most often occurs in the form of threats, shaming, scapegoating and even confinement or driving you to hurt yourself.
4. Sexual abuse — This is one of the most damaging forms of abuse and sadly one of the most common when it comes to childhood trauma.
5. Loss of a caregiver — Losing a parent or caregiver is another devastating event in any child’s life. Even when you are hardly old enough to remember it, the effects are far-reaching. Losing a parent is hard to understand and makes us vulnerable in ways we do not always realize.
6. Emotional neglect — Emotional neglect is big, but also one that’s the hardest to realise. If your caregiver doesn’t give you the nurturing connection you need to thrive, this is emotional neglect.
7. Natural disasters — Living through a natural disaster is traumatic for everyone, but these events are especially traumatic for kids.
Trauma doesn’t differentiate, it can happen to anyone at any time, and it’s particularly damaging when it happens in your younger years.
The effects of childhood trauma on our adult lives.
Years of research has shown that childhood trauma has negative, long-lasting effects on your emotional, psychological, and physiological wellbeing.
It has been associated with various forms of emotion dysregulation as well as stress-reactivity. If you’ve experienced emotional abuse growing up, you’re more likely to have a stronger reaction to stress and suffer from more social problems as an adult.
These effects show up in strange ways when we’re adults, it doesn’t matter how long ago in your past they occurred, they will play out in your life today. The key to healing is learning how to recognise these ways none of which are easy to face.
1. Passive-aggressive behaviour — Survivors of childhood trauma usually carry a lot of anger they don’t know how to deal with., so they bury them these painful emotions with results in passive-aggressive behaviour which can destroy personal relationships. Signs of this is the use of sarcasm they call a joke or “mistakes” they claim were innocent. They don’t feel comfortable showing their anger because they don’t know how to handle it or know what will happen if they do. So, they are passive-aggressive instead, protecting their already patched-up hearts in a self-defeating way.
2. Attachment disorders — This affects your ability to form adequate social relationships and can impact everything from your mood to your behaviour. It also makes it hard for to trust others.
3. Lowered cognitive ability — When kids are regularly abused or neglected, they often develop cognitive problems, which can include memory problems, poor verbal skills and problems focusing or concentrating on tasks.
4. Poor behavioural control — If you’re impulsive as an adult, it’s likely that you’ve experienced some type of trauma in your younger years. Those who experience trauma in their youth often have a hard time controlling their behaviour, doing whatever you feel like in the moment. You don’t know any different, you’ve never learned to do otherwise. Maybe it was the only way you knew to get the attention you were otherwise denied.
5. Continual victimhood — When you’re a child you are unable to understand why bad things happen. Because of this many of us often revert to nonsensical reasoning to explain negative events in our life and this then carries on into adulthood. Childhood trauma forces you to form your identity in a state of victimhood and then you are incapable of seeing yourself as someone with any control over your life.
If you would like assistance in facing your past childhood traumas and are ready to start the healing journey, then I’m here to help you using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping).
Alternatively apply for your FREE 30min Discovery Call (strictly no obligation) and discuss how EFT may benefit you.
I hope you've found this blog helpful in your journey to creating the life of freedom you deserve.
Love and Light