Trauma can stem from a single event or a series of traumatic events that are repeated over a period of time, causing individuals to suffer overwhelming painful, frightening, or loathing emotions. Experiencing trauma during childhood while the brain is still developing can have severe and long-lasting effects that can carry into young adulthood and – if left untreated – into adulthood. The negative impact of childhood trauma is deep, long-lasting, and often devastating.
Emotional Trauma Issues
- Codependency – Individuals suffering from codependency repress their emotions and needs to the point they are subjected to relationship trauma and extremely low self-esteem. Codependency causes sufferers to ignore their own needs while constantly fulfilling the needs of others.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – is an anxiety disorder that stems from life-threatening events or psychological trauma. Individuals who experience sudden, unprovoked, and disturbing memory flashbacks or have repeated nightmares might be suffering from PTSD.
- Relationship Trauma – In spite of age, the young adult is often experiencing trauma in the context of intimate relationships.
- Love Addiction – is a painful, compulsive, and addictive disorder that negatively impacts both the addict and the object of his or her obsession.
- Love Avoidance – is an inability or refusal to show love for someone for fear of being hurt. Love avoidants guard themselves in relationships.
- Trauma – can be a single event or a series of traumatic events that are repeated over time causing an individual to become overwhelmed with painful, frightening, or loathing emotions.
- Adoption – Often experienced in early childhood without conscious awareness or recognition by the time the adopted child becomes a young adult the effects are still felt on a very profound level coupled with present-day emotional dysregulation and relational difficulties.
Bullying is not new. It has been with us for many generations. For many, bullying may have begun at home with siblings or in the classroom at school. Today bullying has extended from an in-person experience to the Internet via social media, having a synergistic and devastating impact. With cyberbullying, the bullying doesn’t stop when you are out of someone’s sight. It follows you wherever the Internet is accessible and is posted for all to see. People from thousands of miles away are now engaged in behaviors that taunt the psychological and emotional safety of the bullied.
Depression, anxiety, self-harm, rage, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation and attempts, are all frequent outcomes to those subject to bullying. Before the victims get to this state there is usually a decline in their academic functioning, increased social isolation, or aligning self with peers who are a poor influence just for the sake of having friends.
- Cyberbullying victims are two to nine times more likely to contemplate suicide
- 34% of young people have experienced bullying while on school grounds
- 28% of young people have experienced electronic or cyberbullying
Emotional abandonment is a form of trauma. It is a behavior on the part of significant others, predominantly parents, that whether or not ever intended, has said to this young person that they are not of value. The behavior is most often subtle, chronic, and ongoing. Dr. Claudia Black defines abandonment as “occurring when one has to hide a part of who you are in order to be acceptable and/or to protect yourself.”
Abandonment can occur from a variety of experiences.
When there is parental addiction or mental health problems in the family, members experience emotional abandonment. The addiction or mental health issue becomes the central organizing feature in the family, it is what everyone is reacting to, and the needs of the child are often overlooked, one more time the message being: “Who you are is not of value.” A young person has a similar experience if they have experienced an acrimonious divorce on the part of their parents. If parents are acting in a hostile manner with each other, children are often used as pawns, or simply ignored reinforcing the message of not being valued.
Abandonment is also experienced when parents have rigid, perfectionistic, and unrealistic expectations. As a child attempts to meet those expectations and is not able to do so, anything less than perfect is experienced as failure. Not reaching the expected goal, and doing less than, sadly becomes translated into a shame-based belief that ‘who you are, is not okay, not of value’.
When someone has been adopted there are often internalized beliefs about not being wanted, not being valued by the biological parents, and that is a form of emotional abandonment as well.
When a young person is rejected by the parent(s) for their sexual orientation the emotional abandonment leaves him or her feeling alone and not accepted.
Without healing from these various forms of emotional abandonment, the young adult is more apt to seek out relationships that are unhealthy, abusive, or emotionally unavailable causing the cycle to repeat of he or she not getting their emotional needs met. The young adult can also be plagued by a fear of future abandonments which creates a barrier to making healthy emotional connections with others today.
Grief and Loss
The subject of grief and loss includes situations from the death of a loved one to the loss of one’s health to the end of relationships to major life changes. Once individuals go through the grieving process, they can forge ahead in their lives.
While the loss of someone or something important to you is painful and evokes incredible sadness, the impact varies according to the circumstances of the loss and the support given or not given at the time. By the time one enters young adulthood, the most common losses experienced are often that of a pet or grandparent. For some young adults, the loss of a sibling or parent has already occurred. This is often due to an accident, sudden or prolonged illness, suicide, or even homicide. Many of those addicted have witnessed someone overdose. Though often not intentional, the support needed to attend to the pain and confusion of these losses may not have been available, leaving the young adult with intense emotions and an inability to cope. Without a healthy support system, the lack of support creates further trauma during this vulnerable time in addition to the loss itself. Many young adults are left to sort out anger about their loss, often acting that anger out in self-defeating ways; some are depressed. Some young adults are both angry and depressed. Others isolate and struggle to make future meaningful connections for fear of future losses. Having these losses occur at a time in your life when you are developing your sense of worth, and finding your way as a young adult, creates a lot of confusion, pain, and without help, fuels unhealthy behaviors including alcoholism and addictions.
Trauma sufferers often struggle with:
- Emotional challenges
- Low self-esteem
Pushing, shoving, kicking, pinching, hitting, punching, and slamming someone up against the wall until their teeth rattle are all forms of physical abuse. The offenders are often siblings, parents, or step-parents. It could be older bigger kids in the neighborhood. In a family where there is physical abuse, to be the witness of the abuse can be just as negatively impactful. The phenomenon called the ‘witness factor’ recognizes that those who witness abuse often struggle with the same issues as those who are the recipient of abuse – an overwhelming sense of powerlessness, and immobilization. In time, whether to be the witness or direct recipient, this young adult frequently struggles with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse. Alcohol and other drugs become the answer to their emotional pain. And for some, they turn their pain into rage and it is not uncommon for the abused to become the abuser.
Young adults frequently enter treatment with shame-based secrets—and having been sexually abused is very likely the number one secret. Sexual abuse can range from incest, having been molested by someone in your family system to molestations by someone outside the family. This can begin at any age and is usually ongoing from several months to several years. It can be covert with no touch involved such as sexual shaming, exposing a child to pornography, sexualize joking, or using sexual innuendo. It is also possible it was rape: rape by a stranger, or date rape. Sexual assault is very common for those who are under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Sometimes the victim remembers what happened, but often they wake up from passing out only to have the remnants of knowing he or she was raped. It is also common in those circumstances that there has been more than one perpetrator. Sexual abuse for both females and males leaves lifelong effects in the young adult if not treated. The shame is overwhelming, (false) guilt pervasive, and the consequences of not attending to this life damaging event range from various forms of self-injury, suicide attempts, and immersion into alcohol and drugs.
Young Adult Emotional Trauma Treatment
The Claudia Black Young Adult Center in Wickenburg, Arizona, provides an intensive, experientially based 45-day treatment program for young adults ages 18 – 26 who are struggling with unresolved emotional trauma, addiction, have a dual diagnosis, or who have failed past addiction treatments. Dr. Claudia Black – renowned author, speaker, and trainer who has been working with family systems and addictive disorders since the 1970s – is the clinical architect of the Claudia Black Young Adult Center.
In a safe and nurturing community composed of their peers, young adults are guided on their journey of recovery by examining the underlying causes of addiction and co-occurring disorders. The goal is for these individuals to gain the courage to face difficult issues, including grief and loss; heal from emotional trauma; and become accountable for their own feelings, behaviors, and recovery. Visit us here or feel free to phone us at 855-333-6075.