Healing from trauma is a lifelong process that is not linear. Healing may come in different shapes and forms and affects the survivor and potentially those around them. Adding parenthood to this healing process may make it more difficult as parents are responsible for more than themselves. Parents are raising their children while also re-raising themselves as they heal from their personal traumas. Often parenthood may trigger PTSD from trauma and a trigger may be the child themselves. There is hope that survivors can heal while also being the best parent to their children.
1 in 5 girls are victims of sexual abuse. 1 in 20 boys are victims of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse experienced at a young age has prolonged effects throughout development and trauma symptoms may stay around if the survivor does not address the trauma. By carrying the trauma into adulthood and when reaching parenthood, survivors may face triggers which leave them feeling numb, panicked, and sick. Raising a child while reminiscing on the abuse the parent faced as a child leaves the parent hyperaware of the actions they’re taking to make sure their own child does not feel violated or uncomfortable. It also leaves the parent second guessing their loving actions or realizing their child’s loving actions to their parents may make them feel uncomfortable even when it is wholesome and innocent.
Parents may feel unworthy of being a caretaker to their children and being able to be the parent their children deserve due to the trauma convincing them that they are unhealed and imperfect. These feelings are common for survivors navigating parenthood. It is important for survivors to face and sit with their experiences in order to break past the shame and make way towards healing and progress. This journey will benefit the parents and children as it allows for both to be able to fully connect with each other and create a safe space. Survivors must reconnect with themselves which in turn allows them to connect with others.
Navigating parenthood is difficult in itself. Navigating parenthood as a survivor adds another layer of difficulty as fear and shame make parents feel alone and helpless. Parent survivors must analyze how their thoughts and actions may be rooted in this fear and work through them. It is crucial that parent survivors have support during this journey as they deserve to receive care as do their children. The care from their support system allows for their healing process to be prioritized and for their children to receive the best version of their parents. The conversation of parent survivors raising their children while also healing needs to be spoken about and continued in order to break stigmas and allow for mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health resources to be shared and utilized.
Parent survivors can break the cycle. It takes work, dedication, and support to do so. PTSD can be identified and healed within survivors. The effects of sexual abuse PTSD in parenthood are prevalent in so many levels and deserve care and treatment.