Nike was the only child of her parents. Her parents had tried over the years to have another child but all efforts failed. Nike’s father can be termed as stoic and traditional with strong beliefs that male children are more important than female children. He often denigrates his wife for not having another pregnancy or child for him and sometimes beat her up in the presence of Nike, despite her crying, wailing and distress of watching. As she grew older, he would also say hurtful things to Nike that made her feel worthless, useless and neglected. He never really was a father figure. Around the age of 7, Nike’s mum moved out with her and went to stay in the family house thinking things will get better. Unfortunately, it did gets worse for Nike, her mother would leave her with her aunts and uncles whenever she went to work, from which she returned very late at night.
During this period, Nike experienced physical abuse from one of her aunts who labelled her a witch and a problem child, disliked for every little silliness of childhood. Around this time one of her uncles, uncle J started abusing her sexually. Nike often felt dirty and betrayed by her uncle, at first, she found it very difficult to tell anyone but finally told her mum and she confronted uncle J but he denied it and everyone accused Nike of lying and trying to cause family rifts which increased tension in the house. Nike was traumatized. Today, Nike is a top manager at a bank, a single mum and has had 3 failed marriages at age 35. She trusts no one and loves to dominate men anywhere she is. Most people see Nike as a top notch because of her successful career but Nike still cries herself out to sleep most nights.
Childhood traumatic events are no less frightening, dangerous, or violent as adult traumas despite less cognitive evaluations. Sometimes these events are etched in memory so much that they effect or sometimes outweigh other life stages events; especially when these events pose a threat to a life or bodily integrity. In fact, it had been shown to cause distresses that can affect day to day functioning and may change personality totally. Indeed, trauma can occur at any stage in life but it is believed that early life trauma can determine the course and turns of an individual’s life path.
Childhood trauma are said to be those that occur early in an individual’s life, a stage where sense of safety depends on the perceived aura/presence of the attachment figure. Attachment theory states that a child’s first relationship is a love relationship that will have profound long lasting effects on an individual’s subsequent development. This means closeness to the attachment figure provides protection and psychological sense of security. Traumatic experiences can initiate strong emotions and physical reactions that can persist long after the event. Many childhood traumas bring the symptoms of extreme terror, helplessness, or fear, as well as physiological reactions such as heart pounding, vomiting, or loss of bowel or bladder control, regressed behavior etc.
Trauma can be elicited from outside of the family (such as a natural disaster, car accident, school shooting, random abuse or community violence) or from within the family, such as domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, the unexpected death of a loved one etc. People irrespective of age experience traumatic events at one point or another. Most experience distress after a traumatic event and majority return to a state of normality in their functioning within a short period of time. Children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) re-experience the trauma in their minds and they avoid anything that reminds them of the traumatic event more probably because their coping mechanisms are not yet well formed. This in some cases makes adults to miss the warning signs of knowing a child undergoing abuse or trauma. These traumatic experiences create problems such as irrational fear, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive behaviors, additive behaviors, anger and aggression, lack of trust, depression, and self-destructive behavior. One of the best ways of knowing what a child is going through is doing objective assessments for children at this age. This is due to the difficulties in expressing self; such invaluable test is DAP (Emotional disturbance) which is available at our facility.
Importantly, family support and family therapy are crucial in managing the impact of childhood trauma, where the family is encouraged to talk about their feelings, fears, expectations and emotions, this reassures the child and provides a safe place for everyone involved. A qualified and trained therapist is required for these activities. Please visit our facility or give us a call today, we are here to walk the way of healing with you.