Neglect as a form of abuse
This was originally a forum post so it is much less polished than our other writing.
We agree that people are much more likely to go “that couldn’t possibly have been trauma” than to call things trauma which aren’t. From the end of our last round of living-at-home abuse at age 16 until a grad school roommate reminded us of the body’s mother, we were repeatedly told that the body’s mother couldn’t have possibly been that bad and other bullshit like “you have to love your mother”. We think there is a deep cultural belief that abuse is something very rare which should only be talked about in hushed tones. We believe this is the reason so many people like to say that DID isn’t real, the real goal is to deny the existence of childhood abuse.
We definitely think neglect has the power to amplify little things and make them into traumatic things. Many things from our childhood which registered as traumatic probably would not have been so if we had been able to talk about them with the body’s parents and get loving support. Instead, we had to deal with the problem and process it ourselves and on top of that, had to hide it from the body’s parents because we had no idea whether they would express sympathy or make fun of us for whatever happened. Based on this, access to an external support network can be a determining factor in whether something counts as trauma.
It is entirely possible the people who say “that couldn’t possibly have been trauma” imagine the event happening then getting plenty of loving support from parents and others. It’s also possible others actually did get that level of support when they needed it, but for many of us, there was no support whatsoever and often, they had to protect themselves from the ones who should have been giving support.
We are making this up as we go, but based on this, we think we could write a definition of trauma as “an event which the sum of one’s resources (both internal and external) are insufficient to handle”. This leaves open space for complex traumas, where something happening once is easy to deal with, but it happening every day for 3 months can be traumatic. We just made this up as we are typing this so it is likely we missed something, but since we figured out while typing this reply that access to external resources can affect whether something is traumatic, we thought we should attempt to make a definition which comprises that.