The Trauma Tornado
By Robyn Gobbel, a child and family therapist and adoption home study provider in Austin
The trauma tornado starts with the traumatized child: with a child who is overwhelmed, scared, confused, and fearful of death. And the child quickly sucks in everyone in his path. The trauma tornado may have started before your child came to live with you, or even before they were born. Something set the trauma tornado on its path… and now you are in the way!
It is impossible not to get sucked into the trauma tornado. When you live with a child whose entire inner world is chaos due to the impact of trauma, that child will create chaos on his outer world. How to describe this cycle: scared child looks scary to the parents, who feel scared and act in a way that scares the child.
What on earth does that even mean?
When children act-out, there is fear driving the behavior. Lying child? “It’s not safe to tell the truth.” Stealing child? “I cannot trust others to meet my needs.” Physically aggressive Child? “My life is in danger.” These behaviors are scary to parents who start to feel their own fear. “I’m raising a pathological liar.” “My child is a juvenile delinquent destined to a life of crime.” “My child is going to hurt me.”
This is the trauma tornado. And like all negative cycles, it MUST be broken in order for healing and change to begin. Unfortunately, it’s simply impossible to ask the traumatized child to hop out of this tornado. As parents, we must jump out first.
What does jumping out look like? We have to identify our fears and replace them with true thoughts.