People Describe The Most Traumatizing Thing They Ever Experienced As A Child

People Describe The Most Traumatizing Thing They Ever Experienced As A Child
Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Life is hard. It's a miracle to make it through with some semblance of sanity. We are all plagued by grief and trauma. More and more people of all backgrounds are opening up about personal trauma and its origins. Finally! For far too long we've been too silent on this topic. And with so many people unable to afford mental health care, the outcomes can be damaging.

All of our childhoods have ups and downs and memories that can play out like nightmares. We carry that, or it follows us and the first step in recovery is talking about it. So who feels strong enough to speak?

Redditor u/nthn_thmswanted to see who was willing to share about things they'd probably rather forget, by asking:

What's the most traumatizing thing you experienced as a child?

I am claustrophobic. It paralyzes my life. I can't ride elevators. I freak out at amusement parks. And don't get me started on trains in New York that get stuck in the tunnel. Why am I like this?

The Uncle

"I was about 7 or 8 when I heard some noise coming from the garage. My mom was at work and I was being babysat by one of my uncles. I went to open the garage to find my other uncle strangling his girlfriend up against the car. She had blood coming out of her nose and mouth. I just froze and stood there staring and my uncle didn't even notice and continued choking and strangling her."

"My other uncle came to the door where I was standing saw what was happening and grabbed me. He called my mom and then the police who later came and arrested my uncle. There's more to this story I wasn't privy to at such a young age. But yeah my other uncle is crazy. He's been to jail a few times, has anger and control issues."

- RedTWL


"Going to another person's house and realizing that living in filth and decay and having breathing problems isn't the norm. Having dinner every night and a clean room was just a regular day in their household. Grass is always greener right? Especially when yours is dead and everyone from school thinks your house is haunted. Smh good riddance."

- gizmogirl0


"Watching my grandpa slowly waste away on our living room couch. He had a paraganglioma on his pancreas, and there was nothing (especially in 1980) that could be done for him. I was four, and he was my favorite person, and I couldn't sit with him, or hug him, or anything. I miss him even after 40 years. Either that or my best friend dying over Christmas break in 1988. I miss her too. I pretty much hated everything after that."

- thisbuttonsucks

Swept Away

"I saw my Dad get swept away and drowned when I was 11. It's really something I've never recovered from. It's been 16 years and not a day goes by I don't remember it. I live with it. I think we have to for those who we've lost. I always kind of imagine it as a sort of like an emotional loss of a limb. I haven't lost a limb, but I imagine you adapt to not having it. You learn. But you never forget you are missing an arm or a leg."

- DoctorNerdly

It's taken me years to confront my struggle. Finally a little while ago, I tried hypnotherapy and I was able to recover a childhood memory that manifested into my phobia. I was trapped in handcuffs as a joke by my babysitter's brother. Six hours.

I wish...

"The older I got through my teens, the more my step-father's alcoholism spiralled out of control, and the more I was biding my time until I was 18 and would head off to college. Education was my only escape in my mind. Every instance of physical and emotional abuse had to be met with, "just shut up and take it, it'll be over someday." Really wish I could give that kid who slept on the floor of a three-bedroom trailer a hug and say that he'd make it out and get a master's degree. I feel like I just won a decade-long war."

- LostCanadianGoose


"I had a dog that I absolutely loved. I begged for this dog in a Walmart parking lot a week before my 3rd birthday, my mom said I could have the dog but that meant no birthday presents or cake just the dog (she lied, I got presents, cake, and dog.) This dog went everywhere with me and did everything with me. Despite being a tiny mutt he would do his best to protect me from our Doberman who did not like me."

"In fairness to the doberman, as a 2 yr old I did stomp on his nuts for some unbeknownst reason so no hard feelings on not liking me. When I was 5 my mom became a truck driver so we moved in with my grandparents on their farm. While I was at school one day Bouncy had gotten into the fence with the donkeys and was kicked in the head."

"When I got off the bus I couldn't figure out why he wasn't waiting on me. My grandparents met me outside and told me what happened, then walked me in to where he was. He died 30 minutes after I got home like he was waiting to see me. I haven't been able to bond with a pet since."

- DtownBronx

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The Collie

"I saw our neighbor's collie killed by a driver speeding through the neighborhood. As a young boy, it had real impact because I loved her, and it hurt when he stuck his head out the driver's door window, grinned, and just sped off - leaving the dog dead in the road and me - a kid - in tears. As I once commented, how anyone could be so callous and cruel was beyond my imagination."

- Back2Bach


"I actually don't remember the event much, but when I was really young (~6years old) I was playing outside and I heard a woman screaming. I was curious so I went across the street to see a bunch of smoke coming out of the cracks in the front door. Didn't see any flames initially so I didn't put two and two together right away. My Dad saw me across the street in the driveway just staring at the house and when he investigated what I was doing he realized the house was on fire. Whole house burnt down."

"Older woman fell asleep on her couch with a lit cigarette. I was traumatized by fire as a kid and I was petrified about burning alive in my sleep for quite some time. Dad had to install a fire escape ladder in my room, fire extinguishers, etc. I was obsessed with what to do in case of fires as a kid. No longer an issue, but my parents still tell me stories about how they knew that messed me up."

- grob33


"I was 12 and sat down at the edge of a sidewalk to pet a cat crossing the road. I lived on a very quiet, but wide street. Even if a car drove by, there would've been a lot of room, as I was in an area reserved for parallel parking. (No cars were parked though). All of a sudden a big red car sped up and swerved to hit the cat. It missed me by inches, and instantly killed the cat. It was decades ago, and I still think about it often."

- bravosarah


"Oh, hands down, my mother alcoholism. It really messes you up in ways that you cannot imagine. And you don't even realize that until years after. I still can't drink alcohol because of it, it terrifies me to even entertain the possibility to become something close to her."

- Matrozi


"My mom was helping me with my homework in kindergarten. I needed to identify letters. Eventually we got to a lower case 'a' which I couldn't identify, because in that typeface lower case 'a' is different from how I had been taught to write that letter. My mother must have had a bad day or maybe she really didn't like helping me."

"Rather than correcting me, she just repeated told me to identify the letter and she got more and more frustrated as I failed to answer correctly. She began screaming at me, saying that I was being stupid on purpose and that she wouldn't accept that one of her children could be this dumb."

"Eventually she grabbed me by the neck and lifted/choked me as she slammed me into the wall and continued screaming at me. Things started going black, but she released me before I lost consciousness and I collapsed to the ground. She yelled at me more and pinched my ear hard, pulling me up by the ear and forcing me back into the chair. She told me to finish my homework by myself and left."

"I didn't ask her for help on my homework again. Unfortunately the work my school gave me in elementary school pretty much required adult supervision, so I just do as much as I could and lie if my mom asked. This of course made my grades suffer. My grades recovered around grade 7, because I had taught myself to study and didn't need adult help."

"She choked me like that on several occasions, because she really didn't need a reason to be violent. At some point I realized that she never touched my brothers. She stopped once I had grown to be taller than her at around the age of thirteen. Then if she was angry she'd scream at me, and threaten to call the police and tell them that I attacked her."

- dring157


"I woke up during surgery when I had cancer, the vein they were using for the anesthetic collapsed and I wasn't being dosed. I woke up, punched a nurse in the head, yanked out my intubation equipment, aspirated, then proceeded to fight 11 doctors nurses and guards while they fuzzy cuffed my cancer riddled self to the bed. Stayed in a 6 day induced coma after that."

- Stryker2279

The Bad Guy

"Mine wasn't as traumatising as others I'm reading in this thread but here we go: my dad knows some dodgy people. That's because when he was younger he dropped out of school to play guitar and do drugs etc, until he hit 30 and changed completely lifestyle, when he met my mother and started getting into religion etc. My town is fairly small, so when you went around the centre you'd often meet these people, and although my dad wasn't friend with these people anymore, he'd still stop and say hi."

"One time, I was about 6-7 yo, we meet one of them, and after he take my hands and compliments me, he grabs me and start running. My dad runs after him and eventually stop him by grabbing him by an arm and almost getting him on the floor. My dad told me he just wanted to play with me, like a game. Thinking about it now, it gives me chills."

- tommymila


"Mild for most people, but trauma is trauma. My third grade teacher slammed the lid of the piano down on my little hands and screamed in my face "nobody wants to hear you play!" I am still struggling with that as a 61 year old musician. The crap sticks in your head."

- electric29


"When I was 7 my dad, sister, and I got into a motorcycle crash. We were passing by a curve and there was a dog crossing the road, my dad didn't want to hit the dog so he swerved right. For some reason the dog decided to run back to the other side of the road, and it hit the back wheel of the motorcycle. My dad lost control and the motorcycle ended up falling. We were going a bit fast and I was in front, so when the motorcycle fell it kind of just kept drifting for 6 more feet with my face being dragged."

"I ended up with so much wounds on my face and arms, most of the scars remained years. I'm 17 now and I only have one scar left on my face. I've thankfully gotten the courage to ride motorcycles again, but whenever we pass by the place we crashed, I get really anxious."

- nyxnobad


"Well, when I was 11 a fellow boy scout playing with fire panicked threw burning camp fuel around which landed on me and lit me on fire. I was in the burn ward for a month before they peeled skin from one side of my leg to graft onto the buns. That was pretty traumatic."

- ClownfishSoup


"Probably my parents divorce. It was messy. There were several months where my mom won custody of my brother and I (except on weekends) but our dad won the house so we were homeless and living at my nan's place (grandmother on my mom's side, we called her Nan or Nanny)."

"It certainly effected us, mom worked full time to buy a new house, which wasn't paid off till like last year (I was 10-12 at the time, I'm 29 now) and that time alone really caused my brother and I to develop as completely different people. My dad, while never physically abusive, was very verbally abusive, regularly screaming at both my brother and I that we're stupid, worthless, lazy idiots."

"He didn't really realise that he'd completely alienated his only children till a few years after my brother cut off all contact with him, when I too snapped at him and cut off contact. Since then he's tried to change to get back into our good graces and while we're willing to forgive, both of our tolerances for his old rage BS is at an absolute ZERO. He yells at us one more time, that's it, he's done. Permanently."

- QuestingMILF

I survived. But, I'm still haunted. I think I always will be. But I have learned to manage. We all struggle with the past. We were too young to process. But now we have to try. You're not alone.

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

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