Intergenerational Traumas and Its Impact

Many individuals have experienced trauma in their lives, however, not many people are aware of intergenerational trauma and its effects which can be transferred from one generation to the next. Intergenerational trauma is referred to as trauma that is passed down from survivors to their children. For example, a survivor who went through a traumatic experience may feel anxious and struggle to feel calm when in situations that one would describe as safe. They feel this fear that a traumatic event will occur at any time, which always keeps them in survival mode. Furthermore, this restricts them from thriving and healing to finding comfort or stability as they have never had the chance to know or experience what safety and security are. 


Children affected by intergenerational trauma may experience certain symptoms similar to those of PTSD, which may include anxiety, hypervigilance, and mood dysregulation. The individuals did not directly experience the trauma so they will not experience flashbacks or memories of these horrific and intense moments. However, they will experience trauma symptoms and exhibit responses to situations/events that have not happened to them, as it is a learned/observed trait. This goes to show that unaddressed pain can often pass from generation to generation. 

What Causes Intergenerational Trauma

As mentioned, intergenerational trauma occurs when the effects of trauma are passed down from one generation to the next. For instance, if a parent experiences some form of abuse as a child, this cycle of trauma and abuse can affect their parenting style and the development of their relationships. People who have gone through intergenerational trauma have more difficulties with developing and maintaining healthy relationships with family and romantic partners.

Let’s further look at an example of a touching and impactful story that Reina tells of her experience with intergenerational trauma.

Reina dealt with a lot of issues growing up. Most of these issues were repercussions and challenges that stemmed from intergenerational trauma. Her mother struggled with substance abuse which caused Reina to take on the motherly role for her younger siblings. This was a big responsibility for a young girl, to have the household needs weighing down on her shoulders. Although she needed comfort from her mother, as she was hurting, she felt it was her mother doing the hurting unto her. Reina desperately wanted to break the cycle, as she did not want her daughter to go through the same things she had. After reaching out for help and getting the support that she desperately needed, she was able to slowly heal from the trauma she endured growing up. Reina continues to work on breaking the cycle, in her words, that her mother struggled to break herself. Reina explains that although her mother was unsuccessful in breaking the generational curse, she never gave up hope, and Reina will not as well. 

Like Reina, many children of trauma survivors want to heal and get better for themselves but they do not know how. Here at Shelter Movers, we aim to help as much as possible by raising awareness for the impacts of intergenerational trauma.

For further reading and understanding, here are some resources below. 

Reina’s story on intergenerational trauma & spirituality

What is intergenerational trauma?

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