The Legacy of Childhood Trauma

Transforming The Lives Of Children Forever

When it comes to sexual assault, victims are often deemed to be not perfect enough: their sexual history disreputable, their behavior afterwards too unpredictable. Predators select the vulnerable. Survivors sometimes process trauma in deeply damaged and self-destructive ways. Instead of these factors being taken as evidence that something terrible has happened, too often they are cited as reasons that the victim should not be believed. The focus is placed on the effect, not the cause.

Childhood survivors, many of whom endured years of sexual abuse, and physical and emotional torture have quietly carried painful burdens. Some of the pain is now being redistributed — back to the accused, the institutions, and to the perpetrators who kept their secrets. Yet there is a burden, too, in being the one to tell the truth, to call for justice in the midst of trauma and secrecy and complicit silence, and willful blindness.

Some survivors were never hurt as badly as their friends and peers and siblings, whose abuse was witnessed, or experienced, or shared, or whose lives ended prematurely as a result of the tragic lifelong consequences of crimes inflicted upon innocence. But they continue to be driven by the unconscionable actions of those who hurt others, and by those who refuse to acknowledge and take responsibility in the present day – so as to balance the scales of justice.

We are all survivors. Never be ashamed of being a survivor. Never be a victim, nor allow vainglorious others define you as one for their own financial profit, or virtue-signaling advocacy. Live, grow, discover your purpose in life, or let it find you. We will outlive the perpetrators, and grow beyond the institutions. All their honor, all their awards and accolades are there to disguise who and what they really are. But the truth is always revealed.

Forever Shaping You

Kurn Hattin Legacy is a resource for those seeking healing from childhood trauma, abuse, and exposure to environments of chronic, toxic fear from which they could not escape during a time in their lives when a growing formative human mind is forever hardwired in nature by the age of eleven.

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) is a condition from which many survivors of long-term, early childhood abuse suffer. It differs from other forms of PTSD in that sufferers tend to have a pervasive and rigid negative belief about themselves. They may struggle with managing their feelings, trusting others, and feelings of shame and inadequacy holding them back in personal, school or working life.

CPTSD is not a mental illness, it is not a personality disorder. It is an injury that has been mended to ensure the survival of the child. Just as a healing callous forms around the fracture of a broken bone, we would never refer to the break as an illness. The defense that a child adopts as a result of abuse and unending fear is an inherent protective measure in order to provide for the child's own survival. Such a protective defense response does not end with childhood.

Consequences Of Trauma

Recent analysis of childhood abuse survivors found that 85% had mental health problems in later life, including depression and anxiety. Almost half struggled with education and obtaining or retaining employment. Four in 10 had difficulties with relationships, with some avoiding sexual intimacy altogether, while others had multiple sexual partners. Some suffered from eating disorders or sleep disorders, were dependent on alcohol, or drawn into crime. One in five had attempted suicide. Research has shown survivors are at greater risk of illness, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, with years of chronic stress taking a physical and emotional toll.

If a new technology or pharmaceutical were wreaking similar havoc, it would be declared a public health emergency. It is significant that the toxic legacy of child abuse gets less attention than theories about whether social media aggravates teen angst, or fashion magazines drive anorexia. This is our society's most open secret. We recognize and understand it, we’re just not prepared, or perhaps, not willing to confront it.

Survivors Can Heal

Not every survivor’s story ends in adversity. Childhood trauma survivors can heal. As stated by Jim Hopper, Ph.D., "The human brain’s resilience, and its capacities for changing and healing, are both remarkable and influenced by many different factors. It’s just not helpful to believe, especially based on someone else’s sweeping claims, that healing and finding happiness can be prevented by past adversity or ways you’ve tried to cope.”

Hopper also writes about “cycles of healing,” including a cycle of “seeking true goods," in which “one seeks and experiences the kind of happiness and satisfaction that come from being a good friend, a good spouse or partner, a good parent, good at our job or a genuine contributor to our community. We all need to sort out, for ourselves, what truly makes us happy; what we find to be the greatest goods in life, the things we most deeply value and find most satisfying to experience. It usually requires the support of others who do not judge our values or push us to adopt theirs, but instead give us the space, as well as the support and inspiration, to sort things out for ourselves ..."

Search For Meaning

Survivors of severe childhood abuse and trauma can also find hope and inspiration in the words of Victor Frankl, a survivor of Nazi concentration camps who wrote the classic book, Man's Search for Meaning. "Being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself—be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”

Frankl continues with these words, which I hope you find supportive of your own, unique healing journey, which will also require the assistance of others, who must be chosen carefully: “You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you. Human potential at its best is to transform a tragedy into a personal triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement. Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning. We dislike talking about our experiences. No explanations are needed for those who have been inside, and the others will understand neither how we felt then nor how we feel now."