The following is the experience of a girl who went through childhood trauma through abandonment and lives with the physical, emotional, psychological, and social consequences of the trauma. She confessed that she has trust issues and will not just trust anyone.
I was abandoned by my own family when I was 3 days old. They left me in an orphanage and I don’t understand why. They were not very poor. I have other siblings that my family did not abandon. I am now 14 and all along I have been asking myself why my family abandoned me.
In the orphanage I was mistreated, sometimes even left without food. Whenever I misbehaved I would be chastised and left alone to cry at the corner. I did not understand why adults were doing this to me. I lived in fear because I did not know what to expect.
Thankfully, when I was 5 years old, I was taken to a home where there were other children, though we were not siblings or related. There was a mother assigned to us. I was received very warmly, and it looked like everyone was excited to see me. This was very confusing to me because I was not used to such kind of attitude towards me, so I was suspicious and wondered why anyone would be pleased to see me. I therefore did not believe anyone. I resisted the care I was receiving – I was not used to anyone thinking about me, let alone offering me good care. I used to sit alone, my speech was not developed, and that made me feel terrible. Other children my age used to talk to me, they used to interact well with others, but I felt different, I felt out of place, I wanted to run away, but I did not know how.
The mother I was entrusted to was very patient with me. She gave me the time I needed to get used to the environment. She did not force me to do anything. She however was constantly with me, and her presence, gradually, made me start loosening up. I remember the first time I hugged my mother – it felt so good, but at the same time, scary. She hugged me back with a lot of affection, and for the first time, I allowed her to love me. I started opening up to her and to the other children in the house – we were 8 of us – and everyone was so good to me.
Since that time, I have always felt at home in this family, even if it is not my biological family. This family is much more than my biological family.
I am angry at my biological family because of abandoning me. I have so many unanswered questions, and I would like them to answer them some day. I however do not want to have anything to do with my biological family, they are not family to me – they rejected me.
I suffer from anger bouts. Sometimes I feel so angry that I hurt myself. I hit the wall, kick it, and sometimes I am not even aware of what is happening. I do not feel pain while I hit the wall or any object, the pain comes afterwards when everything is calm. I don’t like this, I sometimes hate myself for this, and think that this is why my family abandoned me.
I also suffer from constant headaches, and one part of my body feels numb once in a while. I feel sad that all this is happening to me, but I am so happy to have my new family. When I grow up, I want to support other children who have gone through the difficulties I have gone through myself, those abandoned children, so that they can find meaning in life. I know I have a lot of love to give, but I will not give it to my biological family. They don’t deserve it. I want to stay connected with my new family, because that is where I feel at home, and I am sure that I will one day be in a position to give back what I have received.”
Childhood trauma can have serious consequences on the life of a person, especially if that trauma is not dealt with. The case cited above illustrates the many consequences that are characteristic to childhood trauma. However, the new family for this adolescent offers a buffer to that trauma – she started feeling whole again. The unconditional acceptance received from the new family has helped this adolescent to experience Post-Traumatic Growth, and has allowed her to know what to do and what to avoid.
Childhood traumatic stress is the physical and emotional response a child has towards events that pose a threat to the child or someone important to them.
When a child experiences trauma, they may be unable to cope, have feelings of terror and powerlessness, and experience physiological arousal they cannot control.
Having caring adults who are able to attach securely to the child can go a long way in helping the child to deal with the trauma, as illustrated in the book Breaking the Cycle – The Role of Auntie Rosie in Trauma Informed Care, available on Amazon both as kindle and paperback version.