What's your story?

This video addresses the impact of early experiences of abuse and trauma on adult behaviour, particularly in the context of family violence. It explains how adaptive skills developed in response to childhood abuse can influence adult interactions, often leading to defensive and maladaptive behaviours. The speaker emphasizes the importance of acknowledging these past influences while striving to transition from an "adaptive child" mindset to a "functional adult" perspective. The challenge presented is to let go of past traumas by recognizing their protective role and moving forward to foster family wellbeing, highlighting the importance of understanding, forgiveness, and presence in relationships.

A woman speaks:

What is your story around abusive practice and family violence?

When we ask men about their story often we find that growing up for them has been tough. While our early experience of abuse doesn't excuse our current behaviour, it helps us understand what's going on for somebody.

I want to let you in on a small secret. When we grow up having been exposed to abusive practices and violence, where you've been wounded by abuse or neglect, when you've yearned for connection but not got it...and despite all of this you survived! As human beings, if nothing else, we are survivors.

So what's this got to do with family wellbeing? When we have trauma experiences we learn adaptive skills. These skills are designed to protect the part of us that was hurt. But it has a long tail. Let me explain. Often as adults we're only really acting out of our adaptive child.

Our adaptive child is how we manage as adults based on our early experiences. This adaption might make us see the world as harsh and unforgiving. We might see it as a rigid place and we're more likely to try and protect ourselves. We can find intimacy highly threatening.

It also does something else. Early trauma experiences often leave us feeling a sense of guilt and shame about our behaviour towards others. In relationships we see we either have, or don't have power. We see it as an either/or. This view makes powerlessness feel really uncomfortable. This limits us from being fully present in our relationship.

There is another way to live our lives. That is to accept that our adaptive child has been helpful, but we don't need it any longer. We can manage on our own, thanks very much. We're ready to act as a functional adult. We can make thoughtful decisions. We can be forgiving. We can stay present in our relationships. We can understand and learn to manage our past traumas and they don't have to impact on our relationships.

We can live with uncertainty and imperfection.

Your challenge is to consider how ready you are to let go of past trauma. Write a letter thanking your adaptive child for looking after you for so long. Let it know that you're ready to move on and embrace family wellbeing.