What's your story?

In this video, the speaker discusses how early experiences of abuse and trauma can shape adult behaviour, especially within the context of family violence. They explain how skills developed in response to childhood abuse can affect adult interactions, often resulting in defensive and unhealthy behaviors. The speaker highlights the importance of recognizing these past influences and transitioning from a mindset of an "adaptive child" to that of a "functional adult." The challenge presented is to acknowledge past traumas while understanding their protective role and moving forward to promote family well-being. The video underscores the significance of understanding, forgiveness, and being present 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.