How Childhood Trauma Impacts Adult Relationships

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Childhood trauma is not something that fades away as you grow older. Instead, this trauma can “live” in the mind and body and impact relationships in adulthood. Does this mean that these challenges are permanent? Definitely not. With the right support, healing from childhood trauma is possible.

In this post, we’re going to explore what childhood trauma is, the various ways it impacts adult relationships, and your options for healing.

What Defines Childhood Trauma?

Child trauma is any type of scary, dangerous, violent or life-threatening event that happens to a child under 18. This type of trauma can even happen to a child who didn’t directly experience the trauma, but instead saw or heard about it. Because each person is unique, what one child views as traumatic, another may not.

Here are some examples of childhood trauma:

  • School violence
  • Bullying
  • Accident
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Natural disaster
  • Serious illness
  • Violence within the family
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Homelessness or poverty
  • Discrimination or racism

Impact of Child Trauma on Adult Relationships

There are many different ways that past trauma can influence your adult relationships. While these issues may not happen to everyone, they can for some.

Attachment styles

Your early experiences shape the way you see the world. Is it a safe place or a scary place? Depending on how you feel, you may have healthy or unhealthy attachments to others. The four different attachment styles include:

  1. Secure. This attachment style means that you’re able to establish close, trusting relationships with others. You’re not afraid to love or be loved.
  2. Anxious-preoccupied. Those with this attachment style have a fear of abandonment and need constant validation. They often feel that they’re not genuinely cared for.
  3. Dismissive-avoidant. People with this attachment style experience a fear of intimacy. They often struggle to get close to others.
  4. Fearful-avoidant. People with a fearful-avoidant attachment style often crave attention from their partner and need to feel loved, but avoid close romantic relationships.

Trust challenges

It’s not uncommon to struggle with trust issues when you’ve experienced any kind of childhood trauma. You may find that you have trouble trusting your partner and believing them when they say they’re there for you.

Communication

How you communicate with others depends on what was modeled to you. Depending on your home environment, you may communicate by yelling, or you may avoid talking about your feelings.

Trauma reenactment

Another issue that can happen is trauma reenactment, which is where you find yourself repeating cycles from early life. This leads to continuous emotional and physical pain. It’s not a conscious choice, but a defense mechanism.

Mental health conditions

Research shows that there may be a link between childhood trauma and the onset of certain mental health conditions. Having a mental health disorder (depression, anxiety) can also negatively impact your relationships.

Healing from Childhood Trauma

With the proper support, education and therapy, you can begin the path to healing and establish healthy relationships. The most effective ways to treat painful past experiences are through talk therapy, self-care, relationship care and self-awareness.

CTRLCare provides a safe and compassionate setting where individuals with childhood trauma can begin their healing. We offer various forms of therapy that are designed to help clients build better self-esteem, self-confidence and self-awareness.

Your path to healing awaits. Contact CTRLCare to learn more about our treatment services.