How Bullying Creates Lifelong Trauma

childhood bullying

Though researchers have thoroughly studied the pervasive problem of bullying, most studies have focused on immediate intervention and prevention. Still, the effects of childhood bullying can be widespread and persist into adulthood, including social and emotional issues, mental health disorders, substance abuse and decreased academic performance. Victims may also become acutely socially anxious, which can lead to other issues like agoraphobia.

While some of bullying’s harmful side effects are easy to recognize, others may be subtle and cause problems like low self-esteem or unpredictable mood swings. If you experienced childhood bullying and struggle with anxiety, depression, trauma or suicidal ideation as an adult, there may be a connection.

Childhood Bullying Causes Problems for Victims and Perpetrators

It is not hard to understand why children who experience targeted harassment might grow up to be troubled adults. However, evidence suggests that children who enjoy picking on others could go on to have anger management problems and emotional dysregulation in adulthood. Behind bullies’ abusive behavior lies the intention to physically or emotionally harm someone else – typically motivated by feelings like aggression and hostility.

What should you do if you realize you have lingering trauma stemming from bullying that happened decades ago?

  • Find a therapist: A counselor who offers evidence-based therapies can train you to challenge negativity in your life and change your thoughts and actions.
  • Seek closure: Some adults take the initiative to face their childhood bully or victim – either to ask for an apology or to make amends for their past behavior.
  • Stop blaming yourself: Many people mistakenly believe they did something to warrant the bullying – for example, if the other children interpreted their natural introversion as unfriendliness. However, it can be challenging to overcome trauma from childhood bullying if you allow yourself to stay mired in self-blame.

The Connection Between Trauma and Substance Abuse

There is an undeniable link between PTSD and substance use disorders. For trauma survivors living in a constant fight-or-flight state, drugs and alcohol may feel like the only way to relax. However, drinking and drug use are ultimately not a productive way to resolve your symptoms, and addiction can worsen your stress when you realize you cannot quit drinking or using on your own.

Since trauma and addiction magnify each other’s effects, it’s essential to seek help for both conditions simultaneously. A trained clinician can identify the signs of a co-occurring disorder and develop a treatment plan to improve all aspects of your health.

At Rising Roads Recovery, our women’s-only addiction and mental health recovery center provides specialized treatment options for clients dealing with all forms of trauma. In our safe, judgment-free sanctuary, women relax, find inner peace and focus on becoming the best version of themselves. We know trauma affects every woman differently, so we offer tailored treatment plans based on your health history and life experiences. Contact us today to learn more about our philosophy and how recovering in a single-gender environment can benefit you.

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