When It Happens To Your Child
I have written a lot on my blog about the trauma I have experienced. I have written about the ways trauma has affected my day to day life, and how it haunts my interpersonal relationships. I have written about the reasons why I stayed with my abuser despite the pain and embarrassment he caused me, and last week I finally wrote about why I left: my son.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network writes that
Young children who experience trauma are at particular risk because their rapidly developing brains are very vulnerable. Early childhood trauma has been associated with reduced size of the brain cortex. This area is responsible for many complex functions including memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thinking, language, and consciousness. These changes may affect IQ and the ability to regulate emotions, and the child may become more fearful and may not feel as safe or as protected.
This terrifies me because it makes me question whether it is my fault that my son cannot tell me his feelings, thoughts, fears, joys. Is it my fault he still wear diapers at age 9? Is it my fault that he is autistic, because I let his biological father be a part of his life, even for just those short few months?
I can’t undo what my son witnessed and experienced as an infant; all I can do is my very best to keep him safe now. Likewise, any parent can only do her best to keep her child safe. We cannot always protect our children from trauma. One of the scariest moments in a parent’s life is when she discoverers something traumatic has happened to her child; whether at school, in an accident, while with someone once trusted, or elsewhere; discovering your child has been traumatized is earthshattering.
It’s a nightmare question which not many of us do want to even ponder: “What if it happens to my child?” But the question needs to be asked, because no matter how protective you are, your child may still experience trauma, and if he does, the best way you can help is to be prepared. Betty’s Battleground is grateful to have the opportunity to publish this piece by marriage and family therapist Katherine “Katie Jo” Glaves about how to detect and help childhood trauma.
Katherine “Katie Jo” Glaves is joining us today to write a special guest post about children who’ve experienced trauma. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist at Mindful Therapy Group in Seattle, who specializes in working with children. She also operates out of her own private practice: Cedars Creative Therapy