Symptoms of childhood abuse and traumatic experiences

Lack of confidence and feeling inadequate

Lack of confidence can result from a sense of guilt and a feeling of being ‘bad’; constantly feeling not good enough but not sure why. This can prevent people from achieving and can result in self-sabotaging behaviour. This can mean a sense of helplessness and always feeling that everything good that you want is out of reach and would never happen for you. Beliving that you don’t deserve happiness and that everything is always your fault

An inability to trust

Children rely on parents and caregivers to provide them with everything they need for life and safety. When trust in a respected and trusted adult, particularly a parent, is broken at an early age, the child quickly learns to believe that no one can be trusted.

An adult response to this is the belief that others will let you down, so you may sabotage friendships and relationships by creating barriers. This feels safer than allowing yourself to be vulnerable to being hurt.

Sometimes people believe that they will not be accepted if others know about the abuse so although they may be desperate for love and acceptance they are trapped and lonely and isolated.

Overcontrolling emotions

Some people will seem to be emotionally numb or cold; often afraid that any show of emotion will mean they will lose control and therefore draw attention to themselves. Sometimes children learn to believe that they have no right to feel or show emotion, therefore finding it difficult to laugh, cry, complain or even express an opinion. As adults they build an invisible wall around their feelings

Over emotional

Some people find it very difficult to regulate their emotions; they may overreact to something which is not a crisis, easily bursting into tears, having outbursts of anger, pacing agitatedly, laughing loudly or inappropriately and generally appearing needy and vulnerable. A child who has not been comforted when distressed and has not been taught how to manage emotions well will find it difficult to do this as an adult.


Emotional trauma which has not been resolved can produce physical illness. Migraines, stomach disorders, asthma, skin disorders, bowel disorders, back problems, gynaecological problems and general aches and pains are the most common.


Flashbacks can be in the form of fast images, or in the form of feelings (emotional or physical). They can be triggered by a connection with an experience which has not been processed or resolved by seeing something, hearing, touch, taste or smell.

Inability to touch or be touched

This problem can be rooted in feelings of being contaminated and the fear that in some way, by allowing physical contact you nwill be allowing someone to be able to control you or take advantage of you. Some people fear their sexuality rather than being able to enjoy it in a natural way.


People who have suffered abuse may see suicide as their only way out of the emotional pain. Until recently very little help was offered to adults who were victims of childhood abuse.

Risky behaviour or an inability to take any risks

Some people find they need to take risks. Their work or social life can be a series of very high risk taking events.

Alternaltively there will be other people who find it impossible to take even the smallest risk.

Security seeking

In stressful situations some people may make themselves invisible, hide or cower in a corner. They may feel nervous when they feel they are being watched and often they report feeling watched when no one is actually around. They are usually hypervigilant and have a strong startle response, which may be followed by anger or nervousness.

Alienation from the body

Some people are not comfortable in their own body, often failing to heed physical symptoms (pain, tiredness, hunger, thirst) and a lack of interest in fitness or health They may have a poor body image and sometimes deliberate (subconscious) weight gain or loss to avoid sexual attention.

Dissociation and derealisation

Sometimes people spend much of their time in a disassociated state; feeling not quite inside themselves, watching their life happen rather than experiencing it. This can be very distressing.

A dislike of making noise

This can include sex, crying, laughing or bodily functions. This person is often soft spoken and may pause a lot while speaking as they monitor their words.

Gaps in memory

Sometime people have gaps in memory blanks of long periods of time during their childhood AND they have several of the above symptoms. This usually happens when trauma experienced during childhood is so threatening the child shuts off all memory of it as a coping mechanism. Some people may react strongly to certain words or behaviour or images without really knowing why

If you are familiar with some of these symptoms; even if you are not sure why that might be, I can explain in more detail how this gentle therapy works. You can come to talk about it without obligation and I can explain how I can help you.

ppfgreenlogo(This information is adapted from the main PICT website and used with kind permission of Penny Parks)

Melanie Collings, can help you using Parks Inner Child Psychotherapy in Wetherden near Stowmarket Mid Suffolk. In easy reach of: Ipswich, Woodbridge, Colchester, Wickham Market, Felixstowe, Framlingham, Lowestoft, Sudbury, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Martlesham, Wetherden, Elmswell, Woolpit, Thurston, Bury St Edmunds.

Call me for a short free initial consultation on 07855 798 789 or email me:

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I am a Level II trained practitioner in Lifespan Integration and a PICT Practitioner, (Parks Inner Child Therapy); I am trained to help people to overcome anxiety, trauma, and the ongoing effects of childhood neglect or inadequate parenting. I trained as a therapist with the International Association of Evidence Based Psychotherapy ; a highly successful organisation of analytical therapists established in 1985 (previously IAPH). Members of the IAEBP are bound by a code of practice and ethics and all members have satisfied the Examination Board of the Association of their knowledge and competence. I am a member of the National Counselling Society.

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07855 798 789

Wetherden, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP13 3QY

Discretion is my top concern and I assure you that all therapy sessions are completely confidential

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