“There is a solace in breaking our silence. A strength of spirit when sharing our truth. It all starts with the choice to live on the other side of victim.” Christine Macdonald
In honor of living on the other side of victim, this weekend, the ladies at Growth Catalysts were discussing and sharing the things that happened to us or around us – that caused us or others around us trauma.
The reason we were doing this instead of say discussing our husbands and boyfriends?
Well, several of us have become mothers in the last years and the rest of us are looking forward to motherhood. We want to be better parents to our children by challenging each other, and all others to remember that as soon as your child is born, you enter the process of manufacturing an adult. Whatever you do, if the child survives childhood, they will become adults with a baggage of all the things you’ve taught them – knowingly (consciously) or unknowingly (unconsciously).
8 THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO US IN CHILDHOOD THAT WE THINK CAUSED US OR OTHERS CLOSE TO US TRAUMA.
1. Long term sickness of a parent or guardian is devastating.
It hogs time, sympathy, energy, resources and attention from the children. Even the children are expected to participate in the “taking care” of the sick adult. Most children who had a sickly parent or guardian have reported that they feel that they did NOT have a childhood. Childhood was consumed by another’s ailment.
2. Death of a parent, both parents or a guardian.
The turmoil and confusion that ensues when parents or guardians die is undescribable because it is on so many levels.
It is a disruption of what has been. Life will not be the same again.
It is an uncertainty of the future state. What will happen after the funeral?
It is a mismatching of souls. A child who is orphaned cannot choose its future guardians, you take what is available. Usually, this new guardian is not ready for the responsibility of an injured child or two. And the child would have chosen someone else if they had been asked.
3. Substance abuse – alcoholic adults or adults that abuse other drugs are more likely to abuse their children and spouse.
They are more likely to lash out and hit children. They are more likely to scream and shout abuse or obscenities at children. They are more likely to neglect children – physically, because they are preoccupied with their addiction; emotionally because they are unavailable to comfort or celebrate with their children; and psychologically because they are abusing substances in order to avoid dealing with difficult thoughts, feelings or realities.
Remember, Adults do not have to be alcoholists or drug addicts to be abusive. Some people are sober and extremely abusive.
4. Sexual abuse or incest
It is difficult to recover from sexual exploitation and incest because it violates the body and the mind. We all knew both girls and boys who were sexually exploited by adults and relatives around them. We were also in agreement that no one “dealt” with it, legally or socially. We spoke for example of a girl whose father was known to rape all his daughters before they turned 10. Adults spoke about it in hushed tones, shook their heads, but nobody did anything. Well, except warn us to not go near him of course! But how does that help the child who is already raped?
5. Abusive parents or guardians – physical, emotional or psychological abuse.
All of us had experienced abusive behaviour in our childhoods.
It can be being beaten up for small or big mistakes. Or no mistakes at all.
It can be being verbally dressed down with insults and put-downs for small or big mistakes. Or no mistakes at all.
It can be being silenced, so a child is not allowed to speak up, to question or to express themselves freely – even when they could do it respectfully.
It can be adults, especially the adults closest to a child stopping to speak to a child as punishment. Ignoring the child as if she/he didn’t exist. This can be exercised for longer periods – like days at a time – or for shorter periods .- like a couple of hours at a time.
It can be adults speaking negatively about a child, describing a child or narrating the child’s mistakes to other adults as the child listens.
It can be volatile adults who are not constant or consistent in their behaviour and who do not explain to the child that it is not the child’s fault. This makes a child uncertain of which “mood or temperament” a parent or guardian is going to be in from day to day which creates an insecure, scared and worried adult.
6. Violence in the family – parents, guardians or adults who fight physically even if they do not abuse the child.
Most of us had adults around us who fought.
Physically in front of us or in front of our neighbours and friends which created fear. Physical violence is a demonstration of domination and power. If you know someone can beat another adult up at any time, you also know that they can beat you up at any time.
Verbally in front of us or in front of our neighbours and friends. Verbal abuse creates shame and guilt because those who abuse you verbally usually say the things you would rather keep secret. Publicly so others may hear your shame. It is the only way to win. Noone abuses you verbally by telling you how fantastic you are – no one. Imagine what that does to a child?!
7. Neglect – parents and guardians who neglect a child – physically or emotionally and psychologically.
Have you met a parent who forgot that they have a child?
- They are willing to spend time and energy on other people, but not on the child.
- They forget to clean, feed and create some security and routine for the child.
- They do not listen to the child, comfort the child when they need it or show interest in the child in the day to day.
Imagine a child reports something negative or positive that happened to them. E.g. a child comes home and reports that another child beat them up, or called them names at school. Or reports that they were the best at mathematics that day.
The adult shouts at the child to stop being a nuisance, or lying, or exaggerating. A bitter mother once asked their son what they planned to do with mathematics in real life. “In our house, all the mathematics you need to know is the number of slaps I am going to give you if you don’t stop bothering me! I am tired!”
A neglectful father once asked his son, “if he beat you, where is the wound or blood?” Because according to him, you are not really beaten if you are not bleeding.
Could this be the same child? The parents sound like a match made in heaven!
And remember those children who were raped and no one believed them? Studies show that the children whose parents believe them, and stand up for them, survive childhood trauma better that the children whose parents refuse to listen, believe or act.
8. Poverty – lacking basic needs and the worry associated with it can be quite distressing for children which can traumatize a young brain.
Will we have food for the next meal?
where will the next meal come from?
Will I have a fitting school uniform for school in January?
Books and pens etc, where will they come from?
Our house has a broken door, window, wall etc can someone come in at night and hurt us?
Did we miss anything on this list that you have experienced? Please add it in comments below!