Ways Trauma In Childhood Affects People Throughout Their Lives

Most people who were abused as children face lifelong problems as a result of that abuse.  The problems can be debilitating at worst, or they can at best be really annoying, but they are there nonetheless.  This post is about some of those problems.

Many people who experienced abuse in their childhood develop PTSD or C-PTSD.  It makes a lot of sense this happens considering that abused children are exposed to at least a couple of life altering traumas in their life, usually many more.  In case you don’t know this, PTSD & C-PTSD happen when trauma is severe enough to “break” the brain.  Physical changes actually happen in the brain that cause PTSD & C-PTSD.  Neither are mood disorders or the result of thinking negatively like many people seem to think.  Medication &/or therapy can help you to manage the life disrupting symptoms.

Even if an adult survivor of child abuse doesn’t develop PTSD or C-PTSD, chances are good that person will suffer anxiety &/or panic attacks &/or fears, even phobias.  When you’re raised by someone whose behavior is violent & unpredictable, you naturally become anxious.  That anxiety can stay even long after the abuse has ended.  Ending the relationship with an abusive parent is naturally a smart thing to do, but that doesn’t mean all problems are solved.  While it removes further abuse from happening, it doesn’t stop the anxiety that the abuse created.  It takes a lot of time for that to diminish. It may never stop entirely.  Learning ways to calm yourself such as through deep breathing can help calm you when anxiety gets bad.  Prayer is also very helpful.  Medication can help as well.  Also, learn to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.  Take tiny steps at first, then once you’re comfortable with the small steps, push yourself a bit further.  It’ll help you to be more confident in yourself & less anxious when you see what you can handle.

Lacking good coping skills is common as well.  When you’re subjected to daily abuse, you simply don’t have time to process one trauma when another happens.  It’s overwhelming!  It also leads to a pattern of not knowing how to cope because you haven’t been able to do so.  You will need to learn coping skills, such as how to slow down & look at the situation objectively so you can find ways to cope.

Many adult survivors of child abuse also are willing to settle.  They don’t want to be in the same or a similar situation to what they’ve been through, so rather than take a risk, they settle.  Pushing yourself out of that comfort zone can be scary, but it needs to be done.  Start with small things.  As you get more comfortable, push yourself to do bigger things.

Talk to people you feel safe with, & let them help you as you heal.  It can be super easy to become a total recluse, because it feels like no one else has been through the things you have.  As you open up to safe people, you may realize that others have been through similar situations.  Sharing these experiences can help you to become closer & also to help each other heal.

Many victims also hold in their anger.  As a child of an abusive parent, it’s a useful survival skill.  Abusive parents can’t & won’t deal with their child’s anger, so it’s safer for the child to hold it in.  As an adult though, it’s no longer a good skill.  Instead it becomes unhealthy both physically & mentally.  You have to learn how to release your anger in healthy ways, such as in prayer, writing in a journal or talking things out with a safe person.

Almost all victims of child abuse avoid confrontation as adults.  Growing up with abusive parents, we learned early in life that confrontation involves rage, name calling, possibly even physical violence.  The truth though is that isn’t always the case anymore!  Not everyone is like our parents.  You need to learn that it’s ok, even loving (believe it or not) to confront someone who is mistreating you.

Adult victims of abusive parents also have issues with boundaries.  Abusive parents don’t let their children have boundaries, & perhaps out of simple habit, those children grow into adults with no boundaries.  You will need to realize that you have every right to have & enforce healthy boundaries, as well as learn ways to develop those boundaries.  I highly recommend reading “Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life” by Dr.s Henry Cloud & John Townsend.  The book changed my life!  I even created a free online class based on the book.  It’s available at my website at this link:  http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Boundaries-Book-Study.php

Lastly, most adults abused as children also end up in unhealthy relationships.  They replay the abuse they experienced as children in friendships & romantic relationships because it’s familiar.  While this is normal, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  You need to recognize unhealthy people & avoid them as much as you can.  You can do this by learning about people like your abusive parent.  For example, if your parent is a narcissist, learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder so you can recognize the signs easily.

Surviving consequences of abuse is never easy, but it can be managed.  You can & learn to enjoy your life & thrive in spite of your traumatic experiences.

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21 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

21 responses to “Ways Trauma In Childhood Affects People Throughout Their Lives

  1. Ian

    Thanks for the really insightful article. A lot of really relevant information is hear; and really good advice.

    Thanks again

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ibikenyc

    I just ordered this from the library via inter-branch loan. Can’t wait to read it!

    I know I do all these things, but they’re so ingrained and so reflexive that I don’t — can’t — see them as aberrant.

    I wish I had somebody to tap me on the shoulder and point it out every time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had most of the symptoms of CPTSD, but I didn’t recognize them as the result of childhood abuse and neglect until I went NC. They are painful and debilitating, both physically and emotionally, and at one time I believed that I’d never recover from them. But I’m glad to say that I was wrong. Prayer, education, self care, and validation from loved ones and fellow survivors work if you let them. There is hope.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ian

      None of us are alone.

      I wonder if there are community support groups for CPTSD? Imagine feeling and being totally on your own in this sort of debilitating human condition called CPTSD. FEEL the charge it leaves in you…a charge with no outlet except to spin the wheels of an exhausted mind. Now…remember: how does it feel to be loved?

      Self love is important. But in the toiling spinning mind, it can hardly grasp for what is so intangible within a mind full of a million different thoughts, feelings…ideas…memories…parylizing flash backs are all screaming for attention by the whole being to the insufficient human mind to process while we struggle through normal activities of daily living, TOO! How IS THIS POSSIBLE? Look to,our own minds…see this dynamic playing out even as we can hardly believe it! But it’s right there! It is odious!

      We read books that inspire a sense of less loneliness in our hopelessness (charge reduces a little), we seek expression, to, from and with those of our own ilk in bloggs and cool web sites with information (charge reduces a tad more). We learn to exercise our bodies and minds with yoga, meditation, prayer and the gym (charge reduces…the wheels spin a little slower)….and we then can reach out to communities that support and foster the empathy we need (and they need, too (charge diverted to a new channel that drives us forward instead of in circles).

      This is self love. See? Not selfish…we help others in this way…self love is expansive. Self love seeks an expression….it seeks to help is find and innovate healthy positive actions that benefit us. And love…it naturally want to extend itself to others. It is ironic, yes? Ironic that self love is also love to all. It’s a beautiful thing.

      Peace to us all. I struggle with this, too. In my love to be healed…I wish the same for you, too.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’m sure there must be some online support groups. There are so many of us with C-PTSD out there, that there just has to be, yanno?

        I have a Facebook group… we don’t focus 100% on C-PTSD but it does come up in conversation since several of us have it. If you’re interested, you’re welcome to join, Ian. Just look for the group called Fans Of Cynthia Bailey-Rug.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ian

          Oddly, Facebook makes me super anxious. I gave up on it years ago. But thanks for the offer. I’m really glad you have taken steps to have a supportive on-line presence and group. It’s really important!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I understand. Glad you gave it up then- no point in continuing with it if it makes you so anxious.

            You’re welcome for the offer.

            Thank you! It’s funny- I hadn’t planned on creating a group actually. I had a fan page instead. One lady suggested I create a group. I did, but didn’t really do anything with it. Then one of the narcissists in my life started harassing & stalking me through that page. I deleted & banned her & she still accessed it somehow. I shut the page down & turned my focus to the group. It’s been growing slowly & steadily since & turned into a very nice place. It was a very nice surprise! 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

    • It’s funny you say that, Suzanne.. I was the same way. I didn’t know what I was experiencing was C-PTSD. I thought I was just high strung (anxiety), & didn’t realize the constant suicidal thoughts, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, etc were abnormal. Once I started getting flashbacks in 2012, I realized something was very wrong & learned about C-PTSD. Looking back, it’s hard to believe I didn’t think anything was wrong.. but then again, growing up with narcissistic parents who don’t care about your health, I guess it does make sense. You learn early not to care about your own health, as I’m sure you know.

      Liked by 3 people

      • It was the emotional deadness that first led me to see that something was very wrong with me. I had other symptoms as well. But the inability to form deep emotional bonds with those closest to me was my motivation to explore the possibility that my childhood experiences with 2 narcissistic parents had done a lot of damage. And it was the symptom that most distressed me, even more than the physical ailments and flashbacks. But God is healing me. He led me to the people and resources that have helped me to see the truth of my family dynamic and the damage it has done. And that has made a huge difference in my life.

        Liked by 2 people

        • That sounds like such a disturbing symptom. I’m so sorry you experienced it! I firmly believe my husband has too. He doesn’t bond “normally” from what I have observed. Anyway it seems like a very normal symptom of being raised by narcissistic parents but also a terrible one. Thank God He used it to work things out to good in your life! ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Ian

    Awwwww…”A very nice Suprise.” I LOVE THOSE!!! We need more of them, but we don’t get them unless we try to see what will happen. TOO often we get too anxious (I am fluent in Anxious) to try.

    And then…courage steps in…coaxes us along (sometimes gently…some times with a fire under out behinds)…we take the step…the leap of faith (’cause we don’t know)…and we try something.

    Sometimes it’s not so good (STALKER)…Sometimes it’s it’s mixed. SOMETIMES IT’S GREAT! Never know. Having faith which lends a hand to courage…and you never know. might be a “Very nice Surprise!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally relate- I’m fluent in anxious too.

      So very true, all of what you said. I do find it amazing & amusing too that some of the worst situations have brought about some very nice surprises, like my group. My mother in-law & sisters in-law hating me led me to an aol message board back when I got my first computer in 2000 & that led to some wonderful friendships I still have. My parents led me to writing about what I do, & it’s incredibly rewarding. God truly can bring good from even the worst of circumstances. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Ian

    Yes. We, of anxiety’s realm, sometimes don’t remember all the good that came from “Good ol’ bad times” which are remembered with relief sighing nostalgia; when the lesson is learned and the danger past (after the let down of the panicky raw arrousal state of fight or flight (And the terrible awful choice…”Which one will get me out of this??!!!”).

    So glad there are people out there like you and others…with faith…and courage despite anxiety…fear all based in what’s real(ly) going on in a moment and within a type of “Mindfulness” not generally associated with love, light…OM…kumb’ba-ya…crystal bowels, prayer beads…or what ever is at hand to still the spinning wheels that are smoking and sparking up there in the head…where crazy ADD squirrels are just trying to get out of the cage…and think that damn wheel is gonna get ’em somewhere (and we, observing, convince ourselves…”Hey…exercise…this is supposed to be good somehow??!!”)

    Maybe it is….will be…someday, when what is trapped is set free; free to scurry about; explore…..find what will sustain and there can be a portion of measure, there of, to store and get us through the Winters to come. Nature has Winter; We are nature expressed…in all it’s glory, light…and darkness, warmth and cold….etc.

    That’s how it is in the world I live in (the Realm of anxiety). LOL…thanks for the inspiration M’dear!

    Like

    • It’s incredibly hard to remember the good that’s come from the bad when you have anxiety to contend with isn’t it? I feel blessed.. while my personality does favor emotional, it’s not by a lot, so logic kicks in often enough to tell me to slow down & look at things logically. Hardly perfect since anxiety still kicks my butt most days, but even so, it’s quite helpful. It’d be much worse without that logical side.

      You said things perfectly! Crazy ADD squirrel on a wheel though.. that is the perfect visual & funny at the same time! Thanks for the giggle at that mental image! Anything to help lighten up this awful phenomenon is a very good thing, I think.

      Thank you for your kind words! Wishing you a wonderful day & I hope your crazy squirrels take the day off! lol

      Like

  6. crazedladychronicles

    I currently teach in a PRTF where almost all of my students have trauma backgrounds. I am always looking for new insights as I work to better understand them. Thanks.

    Like

  7. my mom died 3 years ago which threw me into a downword spiral, she mentaly and phiscally abused me and back then i told myself it was things she was going through, it wasn’t my fault and i thought it worked. I didnt realize until a week before she died that it didnt work anymore, i told her at one point she was right i was useless and wouldnt amount to anything only to have her say that she was wrong for ever saying that and at that point i realized i had been covering up my pain by giving her an excuse as an escape. hearing her say that broke open flood gates of pain and anger i had been hiding and i wanted to talk to her more i needed to know more but then she died and it broke me to the point i let my fears run my life. thats why im here though, im trying to step out of my comfert zone so to speak. i have no clue if i suffer from any type of PTSD but i do know that your post is an eye opener and helped me understand a few things about myself that i often wondered about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry for all you’ve gone through & continue to go through! I’m sorry for the loss of your mom as well!

      Making excuses for her behavior is normal- it’s what children do to cope with the pain of an abusive parent. I did it myself.

      I know it’s incredibly hard, but it’s good the pain & anger is coming out. It needs to so you can heal. I firmly believe the only way to heal with something is to feel it. It truly will get better though. It probably doesn’t feel that way but it will. Time, hard work & a relationship with God will help you tremendously. I wish you the best! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know if you’ll find any comfort in this. But you should know that, even if you had been able to talk to your mother after those floodgates opened, it wouldn’t have helped. And it could have made things even worse. Narcissists don’t change. They do what they do because it works for them and they won’t give that up no matter who gets hurt. Most narcissists go to their graves in the same mindset that has served them all of their lives. I saw that with my father, an OMN. And my CNM is approaching 90 and still exhibiting the same destructive and malicious behaviors that she always has. It gives me no pleasure to say that because I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and I know where she will spend eternity if she doesn’t repent. But it is the truth. And after decades of denying and avoiding the truth I have come to see that truth is our remedy for abuse. Without truth there is no healing.

      Like

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