Silva Neves Specialist Psychotherapy in Central London W1 & EC1

Relational Trauma. Neglect in childhood. Adverse Childhood Experiences  #01

Relational Trauma.

What is a relational trauma?
It is a trauma particularly inflicted on one person by another, and is characterized by a “violation of human connection.” (Herman, 1992).

Relational trauma, often called attachment injuries, occurs when one person betrays, abandons, or refuses to provide support for another person with whom he or she has developed an attachment bond.

Relational traumas include:
  • Sexual abuse in childhood perpetrated by someone whom the victim developed an attachment bond.
  • Parental neglect in childhood, including lack of warmth, love, hugs. Or lack of basic needs such as shelter, food and safety.
  • Severe parental neglect in childhood, including physical violence by one or both parents to the child. Alcoholic parents. Depressed parents. Verbal abuse by one or both parents to the child.
  • Sexual violence in adulthood perpetrated by someone whom the victim developed an attachment bond.
  • Partners of sex addicts and sexual betrayals: when a spouse has one affair or mutliple affairs, sexual acts outside of the committed relationship.

  • Neglect in childhood. Adverse Childhood Experiences

    What is childhood neglect?
    Child neglect, or child abuse, refers to any behaviour by parents, caregivers, other adults or older adolescents that implies a significant risk of causing physical or emotional harm to a child or young person. Such behaviours may be intentional or unintentional.
    Child abuse and neglect include:
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional maltreatment
  • Emotional neglect, including withdrawing of care.
  • Sexual abuse
  • Witnessing family violence

    The consequences of experiencing child abuse and neglect will vary considerably. For some adults, the effects of child abuse and neglect creates significant psychological disturbances. In other adults, the effects are less debilitating. It often depends on the frequency and duration of maltreatment and if more than one type of maltreatment has occurred. It also depends on who the perpetrator(s) were.

    Chronic maltreatment is defined as "recurrent incidents of maltreatment over a prolonged period of time" (Bromfield & Higgins, 2005).

    Adverse Childhood Experiences:
    The most important is how the child perceived their experiences at the time. Something believed to be a 'minor' incident can be perceived as huge by the child. However, there are some adverse childhood experiences that are always traumatic. These include:
  • Lived with a parent or primary carer who got divorced or separated
  • Lived with a parent or primary carer who died
  • Lived with a parent or primary carer who served time in prison
  • Lived with anyone who was mentally ill or suicidal, or severely depressed for more than a couple
    of weeks
  • Lived with anyone who had a problem with alcohol or drugs
  • Witnessed a parent, or primary carer, or other adult in the household behaving violently toward another (slapping, hitting, kicking, punching, or beating each other up)
  • Was ever the victim of violence or witnessed any violence in his or her neighborhood
  • Experienced economic hardship “often” or “very often”, for example: the family found it hard to cover costs of food and housing
  • Acute school bullying

    The common symptoms of childhood neglect and adverse childhood experiences:
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Post-traumatic stress (PTS).
  • Dissociation. Avoiding or numbing feelings.
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Anxiety.
  • Alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Compulsive behaviours.
  • Eating disorders and obesity.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Sexual and relationship problems.
  • High risk sexual behaviours.
  • Aggression and violent behaviours.
  • Physical symptoms such as IBS and medically unexplained physical pain.

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