Through my work in this area, I began to pick up on common behaviours that I saw in children and young people affected by growing up around Domestic Violence, including myself, so I decided to put this together in hope that it would educate others and help us be better understood.
(The list is not exhaustive and individuals that have experienced other childhood adverse experiences will also be able to relate to some)
- We have the kindest, but scared hearts.
We want to be open, giving and kind, but we are also very wary of other people and their intentions towards us, we don’t want to regret being kind to the wrong person so we often spend time feeling you out first.
- We are hyper sensitive.
Due to growing up in such a hostile environment, our brains become wired to expect danger, this sense of constant sense of high alert fuels our anxiety. Sadly, this overspills into other parts of our lives and we are constantly expecting the worst thing to happen.
- We can be unnecessarily defensive
We may seem tough but we are very sensitive, which can make us unnecessarily defensive, coming from a environment like we have, we don’t always take what people say well ( Even if they meant it from a good place). So we are quick to jump on the defence, we’ve had a childhood full of criticism and hearing cruel things that have been said about us, and as a protective mechanism we become defensive to things.
- We find it hard to accept compliments
We have massive inner critics so compliments are just alien to us, a lot of us suffer from imposter syndrome where we often question whether we are good enough. Compliments make us feel awkward, but deep down somewhere it feels good to us, but we find it hard to outwardly show it.
- We say sorry A LOT!
We say sorry for everything and scold ourselves often for our mistakes. Growing up around domestic violence, we’ve often felt like we weren’t able to get anything right and feel guilt for not being able to do anything to keep your parent safe. We often got blamed unnecessarily for things which were out of our control and not our fault. The result of this is we are constantly saying sorry for things that we shouldn’t.
- We don’t like confrontation
This can be a tricky on depending on how we have responded to the violence.
Some of us can end up being quite confrontational and easily triggered, but for the most part, we can’t stand confrontation and want to get away from it as soon as possible for fear of it getting out of control. Because conflict was handled so poorly in our childhoods, we haven’t been taught how to respond to it in a healthy way, so we avoid it like the plague.
- Sensitivity to loud noises
The smallest noise can keep us awake or make us feel jumpy, as we have been conditioned to feel out fear, and as a result, we are always listening out for the littlest thing. This can cause particular problems with our sleep patterns or being able to relax without having to keep an eye out for any signs of danger.
- We keep things to ourselves to save your feelings
Having spent our childhood’s tip toeing around, not wanting to aggravate anyone or get in the way, so we hide how to we really feel to protect everyone else’s feelings at the cost of ourselves.
- We have commitment issues
This is an interesting one, because it’s not exactly how it seems. Yes we can generally have commitment issues of not wanting to settle down, but something I’ve seen and experienced a lot, is that we tend to pick partners and people that we have to fight for. People who make us believe that we have to earn their affections and don’t really want to be with us and the minute that someone does, we freak out and run the other way. We don’t know how to maintain a healthy relationship or what one is from the lack of a good example, what do you mean you love and want to be with me?!
- We over think pretty much everything
That thing we said or did will play on our minds over and over, it can even get to the point that we start to question if our close friends or family even really like us? That text that didn’t get a response, did we say something wrong? That mistake we made, we are constantly mulling these things over in our heads and it is exhausting!
- We have an incessant need to people please and lack self love
We need to know that we are accepted and liked and thought of in a nice way because we have grown up trying to appease others and keep the peace.
We over do things to be seen as perfect, we want to keep everyone happy by doing what others want as opposed to what we want, because we haven’t been taught how to love and stand up for ourselves and affirm this ‘love’ with popularity and being liked by others.
- We lack trust in our own judgement
When you are young and living in such a controlled environment, you involuntarily give away your natural instinct to trust in place of fear of any harmful consequence from the perpetrator. We abandon our own judgement due to being scared to aggravate anyone and tip toe around to keep environments from turning sour, the only instinct we learn well is to fight, freeze, or flight.
This can cause massive issues in learning to trust our own judgement, gut instinct and often find ourselves constantly in conflict of not knowing what the right thing to do is, due to self doubt. So we lean on others way of thinking to help direct us which has a detrimental effect on our future decision making and our ability to know ourselves.
Does this resonate with you? Leave me a comment, tweet or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org