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As humans, we are all shaped by our experiences in this life, especially the experiences we have as children. Unfortunately, when we experience extreme trauma and abuse early on, it has a way of sticking with us, even into adulthood.

When trauma happens to us early in life, it changes us. Not only does it shape how we will trust and bond with others, but it also shapes how we carry ourselves throughout our lives. While the scars and cuts and scrapes and bruises can all heal, the emotional scars left will stick with us throughout our lifetime. If you had early childhood trauma or experienced abuse as a child, then many of these will ring true. And if you know someone who has, this may shed some light on some of their habits.

1. Difficulty trusting others.

During our formative years, we learn how to trust others. But, when our trust is shattered and we are betrayed in our early development, we learn a harsh lesson: people cannot be trusted.

2. Low self-esteem.

As children, we instinctually strive for attention, love, and a sense of security from our caregivers. When we don’t get that, and instead are neglected or abused, we don’t see that our caregivers are bad. Instead, we believe we must have done something or be something that deserves the abuse.

3. Constantly saying you are sorry.

Victims of abuse constantly say they are sorry. Even when nothing is their fault, they will apologize over and over again.

4. Fear of abandonment.

Oftentimes, people with abandonment trauma or a history of neglect end up fearing abandonment in other relationships. To avoid being abandoned again, they will do anything to avoid it, even in some cases abandoning someone else before they can be abandoned.

5. Addictive tendencies.

Addiction is prevalent among abuse survivors. Even a more ‘acceptable’ addiction like gaming or shopping is typical among abuse victims. The reason for this, psychologists believe, is because when we are abused we become disconnected from others and ourselves, which makes us seek that connection feeling elsewhere.

6. Flashbacks.

Abuse and trauma survivors tend to have flashbacks and hard memories of what happened to them. A flashback is even scarier than just a dream or a memory because it feels so real. You will be sitting in class and the next thing you know, you are back in the trauma.

7. Emotional instability.

During our formative years, we develop our emotional regulation skills. However, when we are traumatized, it causes immense stress on our central nervous system. In turn, our ability to regulate emotions is compromised.

8. Lack of boundaries.

We learn boundaries from our caregivers. When you’ve been abused, your sense of boundaries is destroyed.

9. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder caused by trauma. It is the intense effects of trauma and can include all of these signs and many more. In some cases, survivors have to go through intense therapy to heal.

10. Fear of people.

Victims of abuse often spend much of their lives afraid of people. Because they learn early in life what people are capable of, they will always wonder who else is out to get them. This feeling can be very isolating.