Did you know that some of the things that are affecting you as an adult may be as a result of childhood trauma? Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of trauma because their brain and emotional coping mechanisms are still developing. Traumatic experiences can disrupt a child’s sense of safety and security, leading to a wide range of emotional and behavioral difficulties that may cause long term effects even in their adulthood.
This week’s discussion focused on childhood trauma. What they are and how they are affecting our adulthood lives. The discussion was more of a group therapy where participants shared their traumatic experiences. Childhood trauma refers to an experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects. Traumatic events can include physical or sexual abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, natural disasters, accidents, sickness or the sudden loss of a loved one.
Our discussion started with a poll conducted by the moderator where he asked the participants to rate their childhood experience on a scale of 0 to 5 – 0 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Most of the participants rated their childhood experience below 3 and only few participants rated theirs above 3. The majority of the participants were asked as to why they rated their childhood below 3. Some of the responses were traumatic experiences they went through while they were young.
Considering the sensitivity of the topic, participants courageously shared their childhood experiences and explained why they gave lower rates compared to others. Among the stories shared, poverty was a major factor in the majority of the stories shared. Among the stories shared, one participant shared that at the age of 10 he could tell the difference between a live bullet that has killed a person or has been shot and a rubber bullet that has been shot in the air.
”As a 12 year old, I could tell the difference between a bullet that has killed someone, a live bullet shot in the air and a rubber bullet. Until now it gives me fear to see a gun regardless of who is carrying it.” A participant said
Abuse of power also was one of the shared factors that caused trauma. At a young age, children are at more risk of being sexually abused by someone close to them. Since most of the perpetrators threaten these children, the stories are ever untold and continue to haunt children all through their lives. With participants sharing that seeing someone they know sexually assaulting a friend close to them has had a negative impact in their lives to a point he can’t sleep in the same room with a man – whether he knows him or not.
“I witnessed a respected member of the society molest 3 children that I knew just because they were poor and could not afford a roof over their heads. Since then I look at men with caution and cannot sleep in the same room with a man.” A participant shared.
Negligence and not being able to provide for your children is something that affects their lives negatively forcing them to engage in something that they shouldn’t. Some of the participants pointed out that at an early age they used to collect plastics and metal in order to sell and get a daily bread. This affected their lives and they had to take parental roles at an early age. Other participants shared how their parents provided them with materialistic goods but neglected their parental responsibilities which was the source of their trauma. They rarely had parental guidance while growing up.
“I had everything growing up but still ended up doing drugs and in a gang which led to the death of my 3 friends. I cannot tell what parents’ love and care feels like because they were never there for me.” A participant shared.
Engaging in crime or envying someone doing it caused child traumas among the participants. Growing up in a crime infested community led to many challenges that led the participants to either directly or indirectly get involved. This to many participants led to their trauma as they were either used in conducting these crimes or affected. Losing someone or someone being shot by engaging in crime is something that usually haunts participants since it has been normalized.
Growing up in a family that had violence is something that traumatizes you deeply affecting your current lives. Violence can be from a parent to child or between parents. One participant shared how his parents used to beat him up to a point he ran away from home. If you grew up in a family violence you always try to avoid being in the same situation. This can lead to you being hurt in different ways or endure a lot since you are protecting the other person.
It’s important to note that not all children exposed to trauma will develop long-term psychological difficulties. Protective factors such as a supportive family, strong social connections, and access to mental health services can help mitigate the effects of trauma and promote resilience. Your mental health should always be a priority in anything you do. If you feel there’s something that you experiences at tender age and its affecting you, its best you seek help.
Early intervention and appropriate treatment are crucial in helping children recover from trauma. Therapy approaches such as trauma-focused, cognitive-behavioral therapy and play therapy can be effective in addressing the emotional and behavioral consequences of trauma. Creating a safe and nurturing environment for the child is also essential in supporting their healing process. Protect your children from any traumatic experience or at least get them help. See you on Tuesday!