Sexual abuse, Male survivor, recovery, Child Sexual Abuse Survivor

Generational Trauma

Generational trauma is a term that is used to describe the lasting effects of trauma that is passed down from one generation to another. Trauma experienced by a person’s parents or ancestors can affect their own mental, physical, and emotional health. This can include anxiety, depression, addiction, and other mental health issues. While generational trauma is a fairly new term in our lexicon, the idea of it has been around for millenniums. Even the Bible discuss the sins of the father being visited on his children.

Generational trauma can take many forms. One type of generational trauma is intergenerational trauma. This occurs when a person’s ancestors were exposed to a traumatic event, such as war, slavery, or genocide, leaving lasting effects on the person’s own mental, physical, and emotional well-being. This type of trauma is prominent in certain communities and cultures, as it has exposed them to systemic oppression and violence. Richard Schwartz, in his book Internal Family System Therapy, discusses such a case.

Schwartz was working with a young woman who came to him because she had felt a deep sadness for years. She reported no traumatic experience, and that she grew up in a loving household. During her session, she would discuss nightmares that would wake her up feeling a burning sensation. After a few weeks Schwartz ask if anyone in her family had experienced trauma and the response was yes. Her grandmother had survived the Holocaust. The young woman could not remember her grandmother discussing her life as a child with her. But she remembered her grandmother always seemed sad. That sadness was passed on to her mother in how she was raised and in turn mother passed that on to the young woman.

Another type of generational trauma is known as transgenerational trauma. This occurs when a person’s parents or other close relatives experienced a traumatic event, such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment. This type of trauma can be passed down to the person’s own children, even if the person does not explicitly talk about the trauma with them. Some of you reading this can relate to this section. I know I can. My father was abused as a child and he in returned abuse his family. However, transgenerational trauma isn’t etched permanently on your family. You can choose to end it as I did with my family.

Societal or cultural factors can also cause generational trauma. For example, certain communities may experience discrimination or oppression, which can lead to long-term mental health issues for their members. This can lead to a cycle of trauma, as the trauma experienced by the community is passed down to the next generation. Just think George Floyd. Regardless of what you think of what happened to him, the response, the civil unrest, the protesting and even the looting were cause be generational factors.

It is important to recognize the impact of generational trauma, as it can have a profound effect on a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and trauma-focused therapy, can help individuals to process their trauma and learn to cope with its effects.

Generational trauma is a complex issue that is often misunderstood. It is important to understand the root causes of generational trauma, such as systemic racism and oppression. It is important to create a safe space for individuals to talk about their experiences and to recognize the impact that trauma can have on the mental, physical, and emotional health of individuals and their families. It is difficult to break the chains that are caused by generational trauma. In fact, it is very painful. But the reward of ending it will outlast your life time.

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