As parents, learning about the impact of trauma or traumatic events can help you better understand why a child may act in certain ways after a traumatic experience, such as the unexpected death of someone they knew or sexual abuse. This understanding can help you create a safe and supportive environment to help your child heal.
Experiences that threaten a child’s sense of safety can cause so much stress that without intervention—they may have a lasting harmful effect on a child’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. These frightening and dangerous experiences are called traumatic events. People may find different types of experiences traumatic and everyone responds to trauma in their own way.
After an experience of trauma, a child may start to see their world as a scary and dangerous place. A child might continue feeling stressed, afraid, or nervous even days, months, or years after the abuse has ended. Because children’s brains and bodies are still growing, these constant stressful feelings can actually affect a child’s development and have a long-term impact on their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
There is hope and it’s never too late for healing. The effects of trauma are different for every child and can depend on their age and developmental level at the time of the abuse, as well as support from loved ones and professionals. You and your child are not alone. There are people who can help.
Click here to learn more about resources that can help.