It is clearly a misconception that your childhood would only be that bad if you experienced physical harm. This is because there are many ways your childhood would have been difficult.
As a consequence now you may find life really challenging and difficult but can’t rationally explain why. In this article, I am here to break any misbeliefs that you may have about your childhood and how your relationship with your parents would have affected you.
Here it is not about the facts of “what really happened”, because in many ways that would be impossible to get, but it is about starting to understand from your personal experience and perspective what happened to you.
Not that we are trying to plant memories in your head that wasn’t there, to begin with. This article is about starting to put the pieces of your childhood experiences together to help you answer the question: Was my parent abusive?
Remember that we are not here to blame or thrash your parents, it is about allowing you this space to work out if your parent was abusive and to start to accept your own experiences as your reality. This will help you to heal.
In this article we would look at:
- Why finding the answers to “was my parent abusive?” would help you
- Ways you can find out
- Less Obvious Forms of Childhood Trauma
- Why you may struggle to accept you have trauma
Ways you can find out if your parent was abusive
Therapy with a trauma-informed therapist that will work with you to help you understand your experiences and the impact they have had on your life is a great start.
Unfortunately, there are some therapists that due to their own values and political beliefs about women would struggle with some of the issues you may want to explore. But where would that leave you?
Try and find a therapist who politically and emotionally would be able to align with you so that you could explore your thoughts and feelings without feeling judged for them. Also being forced to forgive your parent before you are ready.
You could also find a lot of information by reading books, youtube videos or podcasts on the subject. You have every right to be choosey here about who you listen to as not everyone is helpful.
The main thing to remember here it is difficult to do this on your own. You didn’t get here by yourselves so you need the support of others to heal. If you can’t find a suitable therapist there are support groups out there even some of your friends may be helpful.
Why you may struggle to accept you have trauma
Things Look good on the outside
There are many reasons why you may think you had a good childhood. Maybe your parents were quite wealthy, maybe you are of a certain gender or race, and you are told you are “privileged”.
Maybe your parent, to the outside world looked like an amazing person and an upstanding member of the community. Or you were explicitly told by your parent that things were not that bad for you as a child so now you doubt your own experiences.
However, there are many other things that you could have experienced that would make life really difficult for you as a child and it is extremely unfair to typecast you based on the above factors. Looking at someone’s surface i.e. their race, gender, financial standing, etc, and making assumptions about what someone would have experienced, in my opinion, is ruthless.
Your parents are nice people now
Your parents could have abused you as a child now has made massive changes in their lives and you get on well with them now that you are an adult. You may struggle to re-count difficult childhood experiences as you worry that you would end up hating them.
Just be aware that your healing journey would lead you to where you want to go to. You won’t end up hating your parents if that’s what you don’t want to do. In fact, it could help improve your relationship
You feel better minimising what happened to you
Maybe you just can’t cope with the enormity of what happened to you as a child and feel safer within yourself denying what had happened to you.
You may struggle to put it into words
This is where therapy would help. It would help you make sense of your experiences so you can cope with the enormity of what has happened to you.
You need to also remember that, when you look back on your childhood and say it wasn’t that bad, maybe you are looking back as an adult and not empathising with how you would have not been able to cope as a child.
Less Obvious Forms of Childhood Trauma
Most of us are aware of the overt types of abuse and it would be a lot easier to explain to others that you experienced those things and others will understand easier.
Things like being Physically, sexually abused, or physically neglected as a child are more overt. But there are other less apparent experiences in childhood that can be just as traumatic for you that could also have consequences in the long term. These can include things like:
- Witnessing domestic violence
- Your parents having untreated mental health issues or addiction
- Moving a lot and not having a stable home lie
- Not given enough limits or guidance (Passive Parenting)
- Being parentified by enabling you to parent your parents
- Being physically or emotionally abandoned by your parent
- Constantly verbally abused, humiliated or shamed
- Emotional neglect
- Experiencing or witnessing Inappropriate sexual behavior
Did I suffer Childhood Trauma? Symptoms to Look out for
It is not as black and white that if you experience anxiety and depression or other mental health issues or personality disorders, you had a traumatic childhood. However, the chances increase significantly if you do have a mental health problem or struggle with any of the following which are just a few examples of what could affect you:
- Addictive behaviours – one or more addictions. Or if you manage to solve one addiction, you find yourself addicted to something else.
- Find yourself consistently in relationships with either someone with an addiction or abusive
- You could have an unexplained illness or chronic pain
- You always feel numb like you are separate from yourself like you are outside yourself
- You struggle to cope with conflict in your relationships
- Or do you struggle with relationships in general
- You just feel consistently lonely or isolated even when you are surrounded by others
- Having frequent nightmares that even though they may seem different, they feel the same for you. In other words, your nightmares stir up certain feelings i.e. fear rather than you are having a nightmare that replays previous experiences.
- Difficulties managing your emotions or even understanding how you are feeling
- People pleasing
What to do next
I would love to hear what you think about this article. It’s always really helpful to me to make sure I’m providing you with the best possible things.
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