For those who have experienced trauma, the effects are far reaching and enduring. Trauma impacts how a person thinks, manages stress and reacts to difficult situations.
Survivors of maltreatment often experience multiple traumas over the course of the violent relationship. This can include single incidents of actual physical violence, or threats to self via violent displays of anger (eg. throwing things). It can also include the trauma of prolonged stress due to the unpredictability of the violent individual.(1)
What is especially fascinating, and unsurprising to survivors, is that trauma can actually alter your genes. This alteration can be passed down from parent to child. (2)
I have termed this Echoing Trauma- trauma that is passed from parents to children.
Very often a violent care giver suffered a severe trauma themselves, a trauma they failed to heal. This ultimately results in trauma of the next generation.
Previously, I had always thought of Echoing Trauma as being behavioral- parents who have unresolved trauma behave differently. This causes them to traumatize their children, both through their own behaviors (lack of coping, substance misuse etc.) and vicariously (recounting stories of trauma).
This research however, indicates that trauma symptoms are visible in offspring mice simply based on genetic factors passed from the traumatized father. (2)
Why this matters
The truly important result of this research is this:
We show that the negative consequences of this which are depressive behaviors, cognitive problems, antisocial behaviors, risk-taking … can be reversed if the father after being traumatized was exposed to a positive environment. (2)
This highlights why healing from trauma is so incredibly important. It not only provides benefits to the traumatized individual, but also spares their children the burden of that trauma.
- (1) https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/coping-with-emotional-and-psychological-trauma.htm
- (2) https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/traces-of-genetic-trauma-can-be-tweaked/