Impaired Self from Childhood Trauma

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Impaired Sense of Self

Women who have experienced childhood abuse often have an impaired sense of self. You may use the reactions of others to gauge how you are feeling about a particular situation.

Because of this, you may be gullible and easily manipulated by others. You may be unable to establish appropriate boundaries, even with your children, and are often the caretaker of others within your network of friends and family.

An impaired sense of self can also increase the risk of revictimization including rape or domestic abuse.

Finally, you may have difficulty asking others for help, gathering a support network or taking advantage of support that is available. This can have direct implications for your emotional well-being and your ability to mother.


Avoidance is another long-term effect—one that is at the heart of many of the more serious symptoms. Avoidance symptoms can occur because they help you cope by temporarily reducing emotional pain.

The first type of avoidance is dissociation.

Dissociative symptoms often first appear during childhood, when they become a way to “escape” from abuse or pain.

Adult survivors often describe how they were able to numb body parts at will, or how they would “watch” the abuse from above their body.

Some mothers can still use dissociation to cope with uncomfortable feelings of intense contact with their babies or children.

Dissociation gets to be a problem, however, when they have no control over when this happens.

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