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Children have memories––and they're very long. That's why child development professionals stress the importance of communicating with children should they experience a traumatic event. Listening and encouraging them to share their feelings (even if you can't answer all their questions right away) is essential.


"Reassurance is the key to helping children through a traumatic time," according to a guide from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. "Very young children need a lot of cuddling, as well as verbal support. Answer questions about the event honestly, but do not dwell on frightening details or allow the subject to dominate family or classroom time indefinitely. Encourage children of all ages to express emotions through conversation, writing, or artwork and to find a way to help others who were affected by the event."

People shared their stories after Redditor bmrugger asked the online community,

"What did you witness or overhear as a child that still haunts you today as an adult?"

Warning: Some sensitive material ahead.

"From my bed..."

"From my bed, if the doors were both open, I could see my parents' bed. I heard noises and woke up one night, and saw them going at it. Made sure my door was closed EVERY NIGHT from then on."

thegothotter

Definitely on the more lighthearted side, but we get it, we get it.

"When my father saw me..."

"My father met my mother when she was very young in a foreign country. Due to the age difference (he was 40, she was 25) they would argue a lot. My mom, being young, wanted to go out a lot and live her life. I walked up into their room once my father trying to suffocate my mother with a pillow. I was around 6 years old.

When my father saw me he completely stopped (he loved me so much despite the problems with my mother), and jumped in to hug me, and took me to the other room. She called the police and put a restriction order on him.

To this day my mother says I saved her life, but that image has never left."

PlaystationPlus

We're glad to hear your mother's alive and doing well.

"As I was walking away..."

"When I was 9 years old, my mom had a hysterectomy, so my aunt came over to babysit me for a few days while she was in the hospital. The day my mom was supposed to come home, she called the house and asked to speak to my aunt. My aunt is hard of hearing, so she put the phone on speaker.

As I was walking away, I heard my mom say "she can't hear you, right?". My aunt replied no, and my mom proceeded to tell her that there were complications with the surgery and that the night before as she had gotten up to go to the bathroom, her stitches had come undone. She bled out onto the floor and a nurse found her on the ground. She was worried she wasn't going to make it.

I'm not sure why my aunt didn't think I couldn't hear all of this while the phone was on speaker. I pretended I didn't hear anything, and ran up to my room, crying the entire night thinking my mom wouldn't come home.

Everything turned out fine and she was back home a week later. But at 9 years old, overhearing her describe that situation still haunts me."

marmaladecat7

We're sorry you had to hear that. That must have been so frightening. Happy it worked out.

"I stayed the night..."

"At 9 years old I walked in on my uncle beating my aunt."

"I stayed the night with my cousins often. They were 8 and 4. My aunt and uncle had just split because my aunt caught him cheating and found out he was addicted to drugs. My cousins were upset and my mom thought it might cheer them up if I stayed the night with them. The next morning I heard screaming from the garage. We went to see what was going on and see him hitting my aunt. My dad had a friend who lived just a couple of houses down so I told my cousins we needed to hide and we went to his house. His wife was home and I told her what was going on. She brought us inside and called 911 then my parents. My uncle was gone before the police got there but he was arrested and sent to prison. My aunt didn't have any serious physical injuries thankfully."

daisydoom456

"When I was around 7 or 8, I was in a grocery store during an armed robbery. My family was at the check-out when 2 people came in and started yelling and shooting. They told everyone to lay down on the ground and my mom laid on top of me, but I could see when they shot one of the grocery store employees just a few yards away from me. The robbers ran outside and were confronted by the police in the parking lot and arrested. I believe the man shot ended up dying in the store, but I'm not 100% sure of it. My parents acted like nothing happened and never talked to me about it."

OwnBackground676​

They should have talked to you. We're sorry for your pain.

"She doesn't work for us anymore..."

"I had a 36-year-old employee and eventually, I had to learn to approach her very carefully because if I moved quickly, she would instantly cower, then sit up and (every time) say, "Sorry. It's not you."

"After the 3rd or 4th time, I had a meeting with her and a female HR rep (I am male) and said, "I'm not trying to get into your personal business, but I have to ask. When I approach you and you react, is it because of something happening now? If it is, we can help. If you want."

"Totally deadpan, she says, 'No. It's not like that, but if my father ever comes here to the office, I'll take you up on that offer'

"Get's up and walks out. Just like that."

"She doesn't work for us anymore, and I hear she and her family are doing great, but I get violent thoughts of being the instrument of that poor woman's retribution when I imagine who her father is and almost wish he had come after her at work."

NorthernStockNoob

"I was five."

"My brother's death. I was five; he was two. Mom tried CPR on him. She was a nurse. He had undiagnosed cystic fibrosis (he was adopted, so no family medical history was known.) Took me decades to get over that."

heights_girl

"I later found out..."

"I was about six at a party at my dad's secretary's house. He thought it'd be funny to throw me (fully clothed and unable to swim at the time) into the pool and laugh at me in front of everyone. I was so humiliated and embarrassed that my own father would use me as a prop to make his moron friends laugh.

I later found out he was f****** his secretary on the side and is the father of her daughters."

lemyduchystorepot

That was not okay. This should go without saying, but you should not have been used in such a way and certainly not by your parent.

"To get to town..."

"Don't remember my age, but it was before I was old enough to ride a 10-speed. I lived on one of the busiest two-lane US roads in my state when I was growing up, at the intersection of a county road, which had a stop sign. For context, the US road had a 50MPH (~80kph) speed limit in that area back then. One day, a motorcyclist thought he was fast enough and could turn off the county road onto the busy US road in front of a loaded semi-truck. I didn't see it because I turned away but I heard the thud and crash.

They had to wash the guy off the road with a fire hose.

To get to town I had to ride my bike on the shoulder along the side of the busy road, which for a week was covered in blood and brain matter from the hose down. Edit: added speeds."

FrozeItOff

"Then a car pulled up..."

"I was probably 7 or 8 and playing in front of my upstairs bedroom window. I liked to watch cars go by while I was playing. And there were two streets that ran parallel to each other in front of my house. They were only separated by a creek.

Then a car pulled up across the street from my house. Inside a male driver and female passenger were arguing. Then the man punches the woman right in the face over and over.

I ran past my Mom yelling "A man is hitting a woman!" And I ran outside heading for the stairs. I guess at 7 or 8 I was going to somehow save the woman. I get to the top of the stairs just as my Mom catches up to me and the car peels out and drives away.

I'm 49 now, so for at least 40 years, I've thought about that poor woman. I hope she got away from that guy."

GrandUnhappy1211

It's difficult to grow up and carry around trauma. Thankfully, there are resources out there. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, for example, does excellent work. SAMHSA's National Center for Trauma-Informed Care and National Center for Trauma Informed Care are just two other options. Get the help you need today.

Have some of your own stories to share? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments section below.

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