Ask Sadia: Childhood Trauma

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Dear Wedasameppls (???) ,

I wish that I could have replied to you personally, only…  I don’t know who you are. But I am truly sorry to hear that you have had to endure, and are still forced to endure, this much pain. You were hurt by someone who you trusted, and who was meant to protect you from harm, at such a delicate and impressionable point in your life.

It’s scary just how much our childhoods, and childhood trauma, can affect us later on in life. But whoever you are, I am so proud of you for carrying on, in spite of the scars, and in spite of the panic attacks. It’s truly unfortunate but not at all surprising that your dad still finds a way back into your thoughts. When we are very young, we are constantly in the process of learning about and attempting to decode the world around us, and that includes absorbing feelings of danger as a survival mechanism.

Panic is irrational, but tends to have a rational basis. In your case, you were abused, when you deserved the absolute opposite: gentleness, nurturing, and protection. The blame is entirely on him, and the scars that you are left with are his imprints. To slowly combat the psychological trauma, it would be wise to try to rationalise it all, gradually. Those moments are in the past; you are (I hope) safe and loved now, and he is gone. I don’t want to romanticise the scars whatsoever; sometimes they do not truly make us stronger. They make us, understandably, weaker and more vulnerable, more worthy and deserving of care.

And that is okay. You are not an attention-seeking teen: anything but. Everybody deserves attention for their mental and emotional health, but in your case, given your past and the flashbacks you get, you deserve it more than anybody. The people in your life will probably not be able to fully empathise with your situation, but they are there to make you feel safer than you were made to feel when you were younger. If you trust them, know that your fears, your panic, and your pain, are not irrational, and it would probably relieve some of the emotional burden if you discuss your feelings with them.

Given the gravity of your situation, I would really recommend seeking professional help; doing so does not make you weak nor dramatic. You do not have to pretend that you are completely fine, especially not for others’ convenience. Your loved ones will listen, and NHS therapists and counsellors are qualified to guide you through the process of healing. It may be hard, and perhaps you will not see the positive results immediately, but if anything, what you deserve right now is to get your biological father and those insidious thoughts off your mind. You – that eight-year-old child who was unjustifiably abused at such a fragile point in your life – deserve to be free of them, but first you may need to confront them fully, by talking about them.

Neither the flashbacks nor the depression make you weak, and they should not be sources of shame. The trust issues are almost a given, and I am sorry that you have had to deal with the emotional consequences for ten years, and alone. The least you deserve now is a space to let the firewalls down, to admit, at least to one person whom you love and trust, that this is what you went through, and this is how it has left you feeling.

I think people are just obsessed with masks and having to pretend that they are okay and without any trauma whatsoever, all of the time. This just adds to the problem, making survivors like you afraid to tell others, for fear of being labelled frail or oversentimental. But think about it like this: if an innocent eight-year-old child came to you now and told you that they were being abused by a family member, what would you do? Would you call them an attention-seeker? Or would you do everything in your power to care for and protect them, and start and aid their process of healing?

At the core of all our beings is a child – our childhood selves, full of creativity and life, and often a great deal of suffering. Yours requires some extra attention right now; he or she has suffered immensely and unnecessarily, and, in this silence, is still suffering.

P.S. if we really are “dasameppls” as your alias suggests, I am always here to talk, and I have nothing but respect for you. 




Sadia Ahmed, 2019

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