Unearthing the 20 Hidden Signs of Childhood Trauma in Adults

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Experiencing trauma as a child can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s mental health and overall quality of life. The impact of these experiences may present in diverse ways, posing challenges for individuals to recognize and address.

Recently, a user initiated a discussion on the signs of childhood trauma, sparking a meaningful conversation with numerous responses that shared personal stories and shed light on how childhood trauma can manifest in various aspects of one’s life.

Fear and anxiety

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One person wrote, “I am always scared that people are mad at me. Always.”

Depression and Mood Swings

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A most-liked comment was, “Constantly reading moods.”

Trust Issues and Difficulty Forming Relationships

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A user commented, “Finding someone perfect for you and then systematically sabotaging it.”

A second user added, “Difficulty making relationships, fears of being judged, and low self-esteem.”

Low self-esteem and self-worth

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One comment replied, “Perfectionism. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. I just always thought I was bad at everything or “lazy” when, in fact, I deal with a crippling level of perfectionism.”


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A user wrote, “Not dealing with jokes at your expense well. Overreacting to perceived slights.”

A second user added, “Exaggerated startle reflex.”

Peacekeeping Skills

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Image credit: Depositphotos kues.

A popular comment was, “Peacekeeping. A kid doesn’t realize their parent (mom, in my case) is emotionally abusive. All I knew is I didn’t want people to be so mad at each other.”

Difficulty with Attention

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Image credit: Depositphotos Vadymvdrobot.

One commented, “Not wanting attention. Not taking photos. No social media. Don’t celebrate birthdays. Dont, want any awards. Don’t want any kind words. Just let me exist, lol.”

Dissociation and Feeling Detached from Reality

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One user commented,” The ability to pleasantly dissociate into a daydream at will.”

Another user added, “Isolating. Withdrawing.”

A second user replied, “Shutting down whenever there is any sort of conflict in an argument or conversation.”

Approval Seeking

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“Constantly feeling like you need approval from other people.”

A second added, “Not being able to move on from mistakes at work if your boss isn’t toxic with their response.”


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A most-liked comment was, “Sometimes it’s people who are overly defensive or confrontational. Or have a tendency to bully. The whole “I’m gonna hurt you before you hurt me” mentality.”

Eye Contact

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One popular “Lack of eye contact. My dad was severely bullied as a child. He was the new kid from out of town who knew no one. Had few friends, so I was an easy target. Teachers turned a blind eye. Went on for some time. Only came to light when he started skipping classes to avoid the bullies.”

Hypervigilance and Constant Alertness

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One replied, “Ability to stay calm in emergencies or chaotic situations.”

Problems with Memory and Concentration

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Image credit: Depositphotos Krakenimages.com.

One user commented, “Having sparse or little to no memory of your childhood.”

Another user added, “I don’t remember massive amounts of my childhood. Like years of it.”

Difficulty with Trust and Vulnerability

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A popular comment was, “Hyper independence. Can’t be let down if you never ask for anything in the first place.”

Certain Behaviors

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Image credit: Depositphotos AsierRomeroCarballo.

One person said, “Justifying your thoughts and actions in your head as if preparing for someone to pop in and demand an explanation.”

Difficulty Setting Boundaries

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A comment was, “Attachment anxiety. Had to come to terms with mine last summer when this girl I was talking to started pulling away.”

A second comment was “An anxious attachment style.”

Shame and Guilt

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“​​Always saying sorry. Feeling guilty for speaking up.”

A second added, “Profusely apologizing when something goes wrong, even when it’s not their fault, as well as experiencing a strong sense of guilt and shame often.”

Struggles with Intimacy and Sexuality

Woman upset looking down, sitting on the couch hand at her head
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A popular comment read, “Overly sensualized behaviors.”

Difficulty Expressing Emotions and Feelings

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Image credit: Depositphotos deagreez1.

One commented, “Scared of conflict to the point you avoid it at all costs, certain that if it happens, the other person will hate you/ it will end awfully. You’ve never seen people calmly sit down and discuss their emotions in a loving way so that world doesn’t exist.”

Childish Behaviors

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Image credit: Depositphotos kues.

Finally, a user said, “An adult acting childlike. People think it’s cringe, but age regression is a trauma response.”

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