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Childhood Trauma Signs and Symptoms,Types and Healing Process.

What is Childhood Trauma?

It is a life threatening and overwhelming experience which can also be a group of overwhelming experiences, It doesn’t matter whether its emotional, physical or psychological. It all has the same impact on the body.

Childhood trauma can be acute, meaning once off, like sudden loss, death, a tragedy that occurs, being removed from a comfortable place and even seeing something painful. On the other side, a chronic trauma is an adverse experience that is ongoing. A child can grow in an environment where they are neglected, tormented or dejected by guardians for example, a child being beaten excessively by an iron rod or being left to fend for themselves or sometimes not being given food to eat. It becomes chronic If this becomes daily treatment.

It can also become very complex in such a way that sometimes, you can get beaten, while experiencing hunger and sexual or emotional abuse. Abuse is dimensional, to mention just but a few:

  • Guardians or parents pouring hot or cold water on a child
  • A child having burns on their body
  • being left outside to die without clothes or even blankets to warm themselves
  • to be reduced to nothing with hurtful words for instance, ‘you will never be anything! you are ugly! you are very stupid!’ and this goes on and on.
  • Inconsistent parenting.

In Southern African culture, some people still practise the African culture of brothers-in-law calling their wife’s little sisters mainini. While there is nothing wrong with that, it becomes an issue when that same man grabs her butt, breasts or even any part of her mainini’s body. Your body is a private entity that should never be violated unless given consent. It’s your space and people should respect that.

Types of Trauma

  1. Physical, trauma to the body and injury

  2. Emotional

  3. Psychological, that has to do with how you are thinking

Trauma is stressful but not all stress is traumatic

Karen Triggs (Psychosexual Therapist)

Not all two people are alike in their experience of trauma meaning that people respond differently to situations. How people respond can be due to genetics, family dynamics and the amount of experience that one has. The most important thing to remember is that children can be traumatized by different events, it won’t always be from one major event.

10 Common events of Trauma

  1. Death of a loved one
  2. Neglect
  3. accidents
  4. natural disaster
  5. rape
  6. birth stress
  7. witnessing violence
  8. when children feel hurt, shamed, ridiculed, yelled repeatedly, invalidated
  9. betrayal
  10. harsh treatment, Being exposed to extreme heat or freezing, being locked in a room for extreme hours or even being starved,being asked to do odd jobs for older peoplelike a little child washing lots of laundry etc

(video above is of a child who was experiencing neglect and abuse from her own                 parents.)

There is a fine line between discipline and abuse

Karen Triggs(Psychosexual Therapist)

12 Signs and Symptoms of Trauma

  • Anxiety
  • moodiness that can lead to depression
  • rage
  • shame
  • feeling deeply saddened,
  • not knowing where you are or who you are
  • difficulty in sleeping
  • panic attacks, phobias
  • dissociation, numbness, blanking out
  • some children can look as If they have ADD when they actually have trauma flaring up.
  • behavior inconsistencies like being attracted to dangerous situations,
  • inability to love,  or being around people,
  • self harming yourself
  • forgetfulness

There are lots of varieties of symptoms that can just show up. These traumas can even affect your sexuality in marriage like inability to be intimate with your partner.

There is a fine line between discipline and abuse

                                                         Karen Triggs(Psychosexual Therapist)

Most parents love their children but sometimes they are misguided on how to parent their kids. A mother or father may think that smacking a child is discipline especially taking into account that they were also whooped by their own parents. Myself being a mother of 3 children, I understand that parenting is difficult because it doesn’t come with a manual. The good thing is you have a chance to change and prevent trauma in your children because the brain can rewire and heal itself with the right nature, connections and interventions. So, its never too late.

How Trauma Affects People

African communities have a way of suppressing people by not allowing them to share their experiences. In some cases, the victim is silenced and told never to say anything as that would either break and expose the family to shame and ridicule. This leads to people bottling up their issues which leads to them exploding in later stages of life. Also, most men have been told not to cry when they were children because, ‘boys don’t cry’. Men grew up being told not to show their emotions. Unfortunately, most of these men grow numb in their marriages failing to connect and communicate with their spouses.

Sexual trauma is an intrusion of sacred space, it’s a rapture of boundaries, it’s a shock to delicate internal organs.

                                                        Karen Triggs(Psychosexual Therapist)

Healing Process

1.Get Rid of Triggers

When trauma shows up as an adult, it can be quite confusing. You may have no memory or you may have just flash backs of what happened. For instance, you can feel your stomach fluttering or in a relationship you can have a certain sensation but not be able to know what’s about. These are called triggers. You have to extract yourself from these places and be careful about the environment you are in and the people you surround yourself with. Move away from toxic relationships, love yourself first and take care of you.

If you have been through trauma, what happened to you was not okay. That doesn’t mean that you are not okay.

2.Surround yourself with the right people and the right environment

A loving environment with nurturing people can help a person get over their trauma. It should be a consistently safe and stable environment. Its very difficult to deal with people that have gone through trauma as they have had to learn coping skills to survive and sometimes they aren’t the best but its for them to protect themselves. One has to be also very patient, understanding and extremely loving dealing with these people.

3.Find a Support Group

Find a support group. One I can recommend  is a Facebook group called, Another Chance with Gladys. She is a phenomenal woman, a marriage counsellor, a life Coach, a Pastor and a registered nurse. Do not keep pain to yourself, by either sharing it or listening to others share theirs, the healing process will get engineered.

4.Creative Therapy

Whenever you start feeling anxious and stressed, be creative. Start working out, take a walk. Always be aware of what you feel, listen to your body. Sometimes, you may feel like wanting to fight, to run or just to freeze. Once you start feeling that, sing or do something to take your mind off it. The brain can be trained. You can shift your mind to other things once that feeling starts, do not allow negativity to tell you where to go or what to do. There are 7 self-help tips I wrote to help you with depression.

5.God can heal and restore you.

I don’t know where you are spiritually but as a person who went through trauma, I can safely tell you that Jesus can heal you. God can heal and restore you. I really carried my issues everywhere with me so much that ending my life felt like  was the only way out. I battled with those thoughts a lot especially when things didn’t go well in my life. Join a word based church that will teach you the love of God. I am a living testimony that nothing is too hard for the Lord, and no matter what you have been through and how badly hurt you are, there is still hope. This is one of the reasons I started this blog.

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