Dealing with unresolved trauma isn’t as simple as trying to be more positive. This kind of trauma goes deep with its roots.

I seem to always be talking about trauma, abuse or some other unresolved issues. By now, you’d think I’d been cured of all my problems, but I’m not. My traumas run deep, and for a couple of stages of my life, I pushed them back, repressing what happened to me.

This isn’t healthy, but it’s a common defense system when you’ve gone through trauma. This could be what your loved ones are feeling and more.

Life-lasting effects of childhood trauma

When we experience traumatic things during childhood, some of us think it’s a part of the normal process of life. When I was abused, I actually thought it was supposed to happen, that is until I grew old enough to know the difference.

Unresolved issues concerning trauma don’t rear their ugly heads until we’re older, as with my situation, so we learn so much as we grow. Not everything we learn is positive. If someone you love has repressed childhood trauma, there are signs you can see and some just waiting beneath the surface.

As unresolved childhood trauma can affect the future, it’s best to find solutions to at least some of these issues.

10 ways to recognize unresolved trauma in your loved ones

1. You have no joy

If your friend’s childhood trauma has not been resolved, then they’ll have a difficult time feeling joy. Things that should make them look forward to tomorrow will have them dreading it instead.

Your friend may be able to feel a form of joy, however, or even be able to feed off some of the joy of others, but they will not have the pure joy of their own which comes from true happiness.

2. Trust issues

I can personally attest that I do not trust many people. And yes, I do have some unresolved issues from my childhood trauma. Trust is hard to have when your trust was broken in abuse. Whether your loved one was neglected or beaten, they saw people as bad and they lost trust in them.

If someone you love has trust issues, there could have been some terrible trauma in their past.

3. Nightmares

Boy, I must have many unresolved issues from my past traumas because I have nightmares or weird dreams every night. Yes, having nightmares on a regular basis could be a sign that your boyfriend or girlfriend has things from childhood that they haven’t faced. This could be any sort of abuse or neglect. Since these roots run deep, the nightmares are probably filled with vivid detail.

Sometimes they can be so disturbing they ruin sleep completely, leaving the one you love sweating and gasping for breath. To be honest, I had a nightmare so terrible one time that I woke screaming. So yeah, those bad dreams, they could very well be telling you something important about your loved one’s past.

4. Self-harm

Cutters aren’t just kids, well teens. Some adults resort to self-harm or self-mutilation. Adults, however, don’t always cut. Sometimes, they starve themselves, scratch sores on their skin or even pull out their hair.

These signs could be medical conditions as well, but you might want to do a bit of research into the past. Try to find out if these acts of self-violence come from negative childhood events. They could.

5. Extreme anger

Many times, those who have anger problems are either dealing with something extremely stressful now, or they could be exhibiting a release from the trauma of the past.

Unresolved trauma from the past builds and builds anger during our lifetime, even if we push it back and try to forget. It still festers until the trauma is faced. This extreme anger can damage others as well as actually affect health and shorten the lifespan. It can surely be one of the signs that something happened long ago.

6. Fears

Have you ever noticed someone get suddenly afraid for no logical reason? That’s because something has triggered that response.

When there are unresolved issues from the past, this fear will surface many times, and in strange situations. There may not seem like anything could possibly go wrong, but previous victims can still have fear.

7. Panic attacks

Whether your friend has an anxiety disorder or not, panic attacks can be a sure sign that there are unresolved issues. Panic attacks do happen randomly, but they are also triggered by something that reminds them of their childhood.

Panic attacks cause increased heart rate, hyperventilating, and other symptoms. Watch for these symptoms.

8. Avoiding people

It’s okay to be an introvert, but avoiding people all the time, and sometimes rarely leaving your home is just not normal. Something is going on that needs to be addressed.

This behavior could be the result of something traumatic that happened in childhood. If someone can’t be around people, then people cannot help them. They can even start to experience dissociation episodes as well.

9. Hypervigilance

Hypervigilance is always being on guard no matter how safe the surroundings may be. If your loved one wakes up expecting something negative is going to happen, and they go throughout the day thinking the same thing, they will remain in that fight or flight syndrome. This elevated state of being can be damaging to their health.

10. Addictions

Another sign of unresolved trauma is falling into addictive behavior. Everyone knows about addiction to alcohol and drugs, but there are many other things that can become an addiction.

If your loved one’s childhood was traumatic, they probably think about it more than they should. Sometimes these thoughts are just too hard to handle, and some turn to various addictions.

Unresolved issues from your childhood can be addressed

When you’re dealing with friends and loved ones who have unresolved pain and heartache from their childhood, you have to be careful and considerate. It might take you a while to understand what’s going on, and you may make mistakes when trying to help them, but it’s okay.

The best way to deal with unresolved and painful childhood trauma is to follow a few steps.

  • Talk to your loved one. Learn about what happened if they are willing to open up to you.
  • If there are unresolved issues, work together to figure out how to solve those issues. If you can’t help, seek the help of a professional who has a better understanding of unresolved childhood trauma.
  • Don’t be judgemental and never tell them how someone else easily healed from trauma. That can make them feel even worse.
  • Be a friend. Be a true friend, and coax them to do anything positive that you can.
  • Be as kind as possible, and don’t do anything extra that makes them even more hyper-vigilant. Learn their triggers and avoid them.
  • Slowly and carefully help them get used to a few people at a time.

Any trauma can be resolved with the right help

I’ve provided a few ways to help people who suffer from negative events from childhood. The most important part of this healing is getting to the root of what happened. That’s why you do the first tip from above and open up a dialogue with them.

If you feel like you don’t understand what they’re going through, get educated. After all, helping each other and learning how to do that is extremely important.

Remember, those who’ve suffered need hope. So, let’s help them keep it.

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Collin Ball

    Where can I find more information on how to help with the healing?

    1. Sherrie Hurd

      Hi Collin,

      The right therapy can help some of the hurting. I’ve seen several therapists, and one of my favorites suggested a book called The Courage to Heal. But don’t stop reading this reply until I’m done. This book, written by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis is a guide to women survivors of child sexual abuse. It says that underneath the title. But there are so many traumas that people go through. With this being said, I find reading helpful, even reading that makes me think about the trauma. I also wrote a memoir of my traumatic experiences during life, and after editing the book many times and delving back into that darkness, for some reason, the darkness lifted a little when I was finished and something felt more whole.

      I’m not fixed or repaired or whatever, but those things worked for me. Some therapists are good if they truly care about you, and some are not. Funding is low for help with things of this nature as well. Then there’s spirituality. If you’re spiritual or not, meditation does help, when you can reach your center, the center, our center…all of us. Basically, though, in a nutshell, you have to try different things until you find something that lifts some of the darkness.

      Now, there are pages on Facebook if you have an account there. There is virtually a group for every sort of trauma. Talking with others in groups like this, if you feel comfortable, may help. I visit those sometimes. To find more information, go online and “google” help for healing, help for trauma, or various mixtures of terms like that, and add “local” so that you can find any sources of help in your vicinity. It’s always good to have a source of information physically near you.

      For now, this is all I can think of. I wish you well on your search and journey.

      1. Collin Ball

        Thank you so much Sherrie for the kind and considerate reply 🙏💚 I am spiritual and at 43 have been learning a lot over the past couple of years about all things I would have considered “woo woo” not so long ago lol! My question was not only for me but for a friend who has been through a lot. As for myself I’m not aware of any major childhood trauma but I have a lot of the signs you speak of. My next step on my personal journey is to go for hypnotherapy to see if there’s anything hidden I need to work on. I will definitely share your comment with my friend also. Once again, thank you so much for your time energy and compassion. May all be well in your world 💚

        1. Sherrie Hurd

          Thank you as well, Collin, for your comment. Living with mental illness, having to live with the effects of childhood trauma, and various forms of abuse, I have this ability to help. I won’t waste that. I know that I sometimes don’t say the right things at the right time, but that happens to everyone. If you do engage in hypnotherapy, don’t be shocked if you discover things you didn’t know. I repressed so much between the age of 10-16, then tried to repress it again. I finally faced the truth of what happened to me and use it to help others. I think that is part of my purpose now.

          Thank you for reading.

  2. Scott

    I am 54 years old and am just beginning my journey of healing from childhood teams. I tried to just forget it and move on. I mean everyone experience’s daily screaming and fighting along with violence, right. I thought that’s what made us tough. Well, no. Shoot ahead 30 years and I’m the one screening ugly radiative at the love of my wife. She’s had enough, and is ready to leave the marriage after 24 years. One way or another, you will have to revisit your past. Wish me luck.

  3. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.


    You do have to revisit your past, but it’s usually to dig up those roots and kill them. If you are stuck in a trauma pattern that originated from childhood, you will have to seek help. If you don’t, you will repeat this again.

    You’re not alone. Some things are hard to reconcile from the past, but you have to find a way if you want to share your life with another. As for me, my issues get so bad that sometimes I truly see myself as some strange piece of the puzzle that fits nowhere. I know these feelings are lies designed to bring me down, designed to continue a traumatic pattern, but I just keep trying.

    Talk to someone local. If you want to save your marriage, you need this now. I am a woman, and some of us are ready to go when we say it. Some of us don’t bluff.

    I hope you seek help, so you can build up those great qualities you probably also have. I am sorry for what you endured in the past. I wish I could take it away, just like my own trauma.

    Be blessed, and I wish you the best, sending the best vibes to you now.

    1. Rachel

      I’m 39 I was abused as a kid in every unimaginable way possible from physical to the worst thing that you could ever do and as a adult I still can’t let go of the pain both have put on me I still get hounded on the phone now and them by the woman who brought me into the world she even had a racial slur against my fiance when I told her I had a partner she gets off by pretending now and then she cares by calling as to look good to her own family which makes me hurt and rage at my partner when he trys to help with advice on it then I sit and cry endlessly the fact that these people stole my childhood and as a adult they want to steal that aswell

  4. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.


    The pain of abuse doesn’t go away, it transforms. So, your abusers, since they are still in contact with you, keep igniting that pain. I really don’t want to tell you to get away from your own mother, but in the end, it’s about what’s best for you. If there are toxic influences in your life, you have to get away from those things, even those people. It could be that you just need some temporary time away from your mother. And you cannot continue to take out your hurt on your partner if they are innocent and trying to help.
    Can you see it? Can you see how the toxic influence of those who abused you is using you to hurt your partner too. it’s like the abuse has extended and grown instead of healed. I think it’s time you stepped back and looked at the big picture, and recognized the first person you need to deal with.
    That would be yourself.
    What is it going to take to stop the abuse. It’s still happening, just in a different form. At some point, enough will be enough, and you have to make sure you find this point before anyone is seriously hurt, maybe even physically hurt. Your childhood is gone physically, yes. Mine is too because I suffered from multiple abuses as well. Now, it’s time to stop the abuse as an adult, and you must find peace to do that. In a nutshell, the toxicity has to be removed, at least for a while. This will help you clear your mind and learn how you might be able to deal with your mother, while keeping her at distance.

  5. Luke Smith

    It’s great that you mentioned how unresolved childhood trauma could affect the future, so it’s best to find solutions to at least some of the issues. I was talking with a friend last night and he told me how his younger sister is showing some signs of trauma. Thankfully they could actually get trauma treatment for teens now, so maybe they should look into that soon.

  6. Shelley

    I am 65 going on 66 and literally just starting to revisit some of my most painful memories. I realize that many of my issues including substance abuse and depression are a result of unresolved trauma. It seems like a daunting project, but I am not going to give up this time or sugar coat it and sweep it back under teh carpet. My brother just passed in his early 60s from complications of meth addiction. My abusive father is still alive and I have just realized the extent of the abuse inflicted on me and my siblings.

  7. Teresa

    thank you so much for all this information. 69 years old and still struggling to survive and heal. Also, realizing how my issues have affected my own children and grandchildren. wish I had more time but know its getting short.

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