Deep Bench: The signs of childhood trauma as abuse increases around the holidays

(WZAW) -- The word trauma describes a negative event that is emotionally painful and can affect a person's ability to cope. When it starts in childhood, it can have an impact on your mental health across a lifetime.

We talked to Lee Shipway, licensed clinical social worker and executive director at Peaceful Solutions Counseling in Wausau joined the Deep Bench on Wednesday. She said the most common forms of childhood trauma is physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or verbal abuse and witnessing domestic violence.

"If there is sexual abuse, it can go one of two ways. Either a child becomes promiscuous and involved in a lot of sex acts because that's what they've been taught, that's all they're worth," she explained. "Or it might go the other way where they don't want to have any sort of sexual encounter with anyone."

Shipway said it can also go another way where the child is the trouble maker.They might be bullying other kids and abusive to them. Oftentimes when kids are bullies, they're being abused at home or witnessing domestic violence at home, she said.

"The major thing you need to feel as a child is to be safe and be able to trust the other human beings in your life."

She went on to say that childhood abuse in all forms tends to go up during the holidays. Oftentimes many family members are getting together and staying at each other's homes, and sexual abuse normally happens between a child and someone they trust.

"For sexual abusers they feel they deserve an extra treat, if you will, during their birthday, a child's birthday and around the holidays."

In terms of verbal abuse, she said that can stem from stress and the extra expectations adults are putting on themselves. If something doesn't go as planned, people can lash out at the children around them.

If you do notice any signs of abuse, the best thing Shipway said you can do is get the child help, like through a school guidance counselor if you are part of school staff, talk to the child away from the parent if you are a relative. If something is going on, she said contact the Department of Social Services.