When we think about trauma, we typically think of military veterans, survivors of sexual abuse, and those who have lived through natural disasters. These experiences leave deeply etched scars that negatively affect both physical and mental health—for years and sometimes for lifetimes.
But there’s another type of trauma that we don’t hear nearly as much about. It might not look as dramatic from the outside, but it leaves marks that are just as deep and wounding, in their own way. It’s called relational trauma.
We are social beings—hard-wired for relationships—and the most significant relationships of all are those between children and their primary caregivers.
These relationships, to a large degree, determine who we will be as adults. They mold our capacity for relationship—not only the dynamics of our relationships with others but also the kind of relationship we have with ourselves.