How to prevent transgenerational trauma?
Did you know that when a person experiences an extremely overwhelming trauma, which they cannot contain and keep silent, they often pass it on to other generations of their nuclear family? Traumatic events can not only have serious repercussions for those who suffer them directly; when emotions are not managed in a proper way, the emotional burden they produce can be transferred to other people in the nuclear family. This is known as transgenerational trauma.
A person who suffers a traumatic experience can replicate those behaviors of which they were a victim with their children or other people in the family nucleus and become a victimizer. But also, although not necessarily replicating these types of behavior, through their DNA and unconsciously, they can transmit this trauma to the next generations, which can manifest itself through certain behavioral patterns or predisposition to possible disorders.
Many of the difficulties that people experience in their adult life may be the result of unprocessed emotions or blocked traumas. And when a person inherits that emotional burden of trauma, they may feel an emptiness or an inability to adapt and live in peace without knowing why they are experiencing all of this.
Ways in which trauma recurs
Although, apparently, the trauma remains in silence, since it is not talked about, by being repressed it will always be there and it manifests itself in different ways.
Pure repetition: the facts are repeated in the same way. If my ancestor was in prison, I commit crimes.
Repetition by interpretation: the person repeats the facts that they interpret as having happened. If my ancestor was hit on the head, I suffer migraines.
Repetition by identification: the manifestation of a condition is repeated. If my grandfather was an alcoholic, my father had liver problems and I suffer from hepatitis.
Repetition by opposition: we try to do the opposite of what happened. If my ancestor was a victim of sexual abuse, I avoid any kind of sexual contact.
Repetition by compensation: we try to repair what happened. If my ancestor was killed by criminals, I become a policeman.
As you can see, trauma can express itself in different ways, so it is important to be aware and seek help if necessary.
3 keys to stop transgenerational trauma
One of the most important aspects to break with transgenerational trauma is, first, to break the silence of those painful events that were not processed at the time. Here are three key aspects so that the trauma does not affect other generations.
Self-knowledge. Being able to identify those dark aspects of our life is fundamental. The work of self-knowledge allows us to identify those aspects that we must work on to avoid replicating the patterns of violence, abandonment, overprotection, or others that marked our childhood and that tend to be replicated when we become parents.
Breaking the silence. Many times, the trauma that affects a person and the following generations is related to events that generate shame in people, as is the case of sexual abuse, therefore, it is something that is never talked about. Talking about the traumatic experience is the first step to healing the wounds and preventing the trauma from being transferred from one generation to another.
Seek help. To adequately process a traumatic experience, it is essential to have the help and support of a mental health professional to guide the process and provide the tools required to move toward better emotional management.
Do not be afraid to turn to a mental health professional, repressing emotions does not bring positive effects for you or for the people who make up your family.
In the #YoDigoNoMas Movement, we provide valuable resources and tools to learn how to cope with trauma and begin a process of healing from the wounds of sexual abuse. Learn more about our Movement and join our cause.