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#402103 - 06/28/12 10:09 PM Can Others See Our Trauma?
jls Offline

Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
I was out of town recently visiting some friends. Both are social workers and during a discussion about their work the subject of childhood trauma came up. I (being me) didn't share anything about my csa history but during the course of the conversation one of my friends began talking about how many trauma survivors don't like to talk about their trauma. He then looked me straight in the eye and said that sometimes all it can take is one look for him to tell if someone is a trauma survivor. At this time I felt quite uncomfortable and not knowing what to say I did my best to veer the subject to something else. My question is do others here believe that what he said has some truth? I realize that the person I mentioned is a professional and may see what the layperson can't but even so it weirds me out to think that my history is that obvious. Anyways thoughts are appreciated.
Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

#402104 - 06/28/12 10:17 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
nltsaved Offline

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 925
Loc: Kc,Mo
i got to say i no for sure when someone has been abused i can see it they all have this certain stare . I have picked them out one by one . one of my daughters friends was abused and i could tell turns out by her uncle . My step son and step daughter i knew right off that they had been abused i told my wife and she talked to them and sure enough there uncle had abused them both . So as far as i can tell it is real easy to spot
Video of me telling my story
you are not alone never were
Why i hate Religion but love Jesus

#402105 - 06/28/12 10:46 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: nltsaved]
Clockwise Offline

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Pennsylvania
This is something that has always frightned me. For so long I've scared the shit out of myself wondering if other people can see all the pain I have inside because of what's happened to me. Sometimes when I walk down the street I can feel the eyes of others boring holes into the back of my head and the only thing I can think of is "They know". I think on some level some people can sense that another person has been abused. I think some of us just have that "hurt" look on our faces. But some of it is just in our heads also.
Yet another 24 hours.

#402108 - 06/28/12 11:30 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
Napoleon Offline

Registered: 04/06/11
Posts: 166
Loc: Utah
Yes, but not always...

All of my life people have shared their stories of abuse. Almost as if they expected I would share mine back... Why would people share these stories with me? I would tried once to talk about these things with people that I thought where closer, but they would have no clue.... They had never shared anything that would lead them to believe...

My own abuse was repressed until about 3 years ago, but I think these people knew... Most those who notice- notice because they share your pain... Or perhaps are triggered by the same things they are… If they can tell they understand, they are not judging you... My Ex and I both had suppressed memories of abuse, I think its why we got along so well…
“Your only limit within reason, is the one that you set up in your own mind.” Napoleon Hill, The Law of Success, 1925.

#402111 - 06/29/12 12:46 AM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: Napoleon]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
Most people around us don't know and don't care. The teeming masses of people are wrapped up in their own concerns and they don't want to "see".

But there are those who can and do see. I think that the guy who abused me in the scout camp chose me carefully to be the one he would pick on. He was looking for someone who wouldn't blab or be able to defend himself. But then he intimidated me with words and a knife and other stuff.

I have recently figured out that my mother realized that my grandfather had abused me when I was 4. She packed us up in the car and got us out of there as soon as she could. We didn't go back there for 4 years until he was dead.

A lot of people around us know, even if subconsciously, what to look for in a person that's been abused. Remember that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 guys get abused before age 18. They know from within what to look for. But usually they are understanding of our needs because they have "been there".

The thing is that a lot of us put on a mask, especially before we start to deal with our trauma. Some of us actually work at hiding it from others. I think that in that case we can often succeed in fooling others.


#402115 - 06/29/12 02:19 AM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4097
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
the mere thought that many people can tell just by looking makes me angry. If so - why don't they do anything about it?

i prefer to think that most people are far too wrapped up in their own personal stuff that they wouldn't recognize it if it was written across our foreheads.

i do think that a survivor can often be sensitive to subtle signs in another survivor that outsiders would not pick up.

and like Puffer said, some of us are really good at hiding it. some of us actually hid it from ourselves for years!

"My experience has shown me that I all too often tend to deny that which lies behind, but as I still believe, that which is denied cannot be healed." Brennan Manning, "All is Grace - A Ragamuffin Memoir"

#402125 - 06/29/12 07:23 AM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
SamV Offline

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 5959
Loc: Talladega, Alabama, USA
This is a great thread jls, thanks for starting it.

Since recovery, I have chosen the folks that I have disclosed to based on their safety and the probability that they too, men and women, may have been abused. My wife urged me to go to her friends house and while we were talking, I felt a commonality with the man that was a stronger bond than with those I knew to be non abused. I disclosed to him, and he immediately disclosed to me. It was a powerful moment, I could safely share my pain and get fellow feeling. I was able to see how another survivor motivated and supported himself, it was very empowering.

Since then I have disclosed as a way to test whether or not my instincts were correct, and it is pretty clear that there are identifying signs in the abused that can be "read" to determine with accuracy the history of a survivor.

It does cause some heartache to become aware of the 1 in 6 as a real number, with a real face, family and pain. Still the more I reach out, the more I can share and support, the more healing takes place around me and in me.

MaleSurvivor Moderator Emeritus 2012 - 2014

#402508 - 07/03/12 09:38 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
ShortedDiode Offline

Registered: 11/26/11
Posts: 118
Loc: Hamilton, ON Canada
I think there's some truth to that but I don't necessarily think you can tell from just one look. I think it's one of those things where you form a suspicion based on a collection of evidence. Take some of the common behaviours for example like shyness, jumpy at loud/unexpected sounds, clam up when certain subjects come up in conversation, not at ease with people and takes a long time to settle down, always looking around for signs of danger, jump out of their skin at the slightest touch, etc. What I think actually happens is that people with experience or expertise to notice enough of the typical behavioural cues to suspect a trauma survivor can tell pretty quickly who's normal and unaffected apart from people who throw off enough of the red flags.

The question then becomes how many people can tell? How long does it take to tell, ie. is it noticeable to some people or a lot of people and is it something that can casually be observed walking down the street? I suspect it's only a small subset of people that can actually tell and that it's not immediate, that it'd take at least a couple of minutes to tell, which is reassuring. I wouldn't want a large number of people to be able to peg me at a glance when I'm out in public in the course of my daily life.
If it's a choice between laughing or crying, I'd rather laugh.

#402510 - 07/03/12 09:55 PM * [Re: jls]
Smalltown80sBoy Offline

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 2217

Edited by Smalltown80sBoy (04/28/13 06:05 PM)

#402513 - 07/03/12 11:19 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
chambers Offline

Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 118
Loc: VA
I've always thought people could see it, especially women for some reason. It's kind of why I thought I could never make any romantic relationship last, because they could see I was messed up.

#402519 - 07/04/12 01:23 AM . [Re: jls]
Life's A Dream Offline

Registered: 08/25/11
Posts: 886
Loc: Bouvet Island

Edited by Life's A Dream (01/12/13 09:49 PM)

#402523 - 07/04/12 02:22 AM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
Napoleon Offline

Registered: 04/06/11
Posts: 166
Loc: Utah
Yep, I think we also are in tune to perps... I think about how I looked around a bathroom for any cameras, or places to hide cameras before I use it because of my abuse... The same goes for recognizing allot of body language. We know the diffrence between a smile and arrosal. We know to look and are not blinded to think it's a smile.


I read somewhere that most perps also have the ability to pick the abused kids out from the not abused kids... Sadly they also know to look for those same clues... I think this is why some become a target for them...
“Your only limit within reason, is the one that you set up in your own mind.” Napoleon Hill, The Law of Success, 1925.

#402659 - 07/05/12 06:04 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
Steve0123 Offline

Registered: 05/30/12
Posts: 80
I see trauma in is harder if not virtually impossible to see in men, I don't recognize it.

#403755 - 07/16/12 04:20 AM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
pbert53 Offline
Greeter Emeritus

Registered: 10/26/09
Posts: 576
Loc: Washington, USA
Thanks for the topic jls,

i have to say that i have always, since i was a late teen, remembered being able to tell if someone had been abused (all types and kinds of abuse). Although i was not very good at it at first because i didn't understand what it was and it freaked my already messed up head. i have been correct 7 out of 10 times, approximately.

i don't boast or brag about it, because i want the person to feel comfortable and they usually approach me or i have approached them.

It is a good thing so many more victims and younger ones as well are a bit more able to find a support system than when i was a younger person.

i do know from my interactions with many CSA survivors and ASA survivors, that it is very frightening at first to talk about. I too had the same fear of disclosure as most, but i learned that it was worth the pain and difficult work to start to recover. i know there are still so many men who are afraid to even entertain that they were molested that they never speak of it again. This path has caused many to fail to thrive.

i also want to say that i see pain, sorrow, shame, loneliness, feelings; and not any details. i don't believe anyone can see another's thoughts or experiences, but can have empathy for like CSA/ASA survivors. i believe that we may have a bond and brotherhood because we are mostly the only ones that can understand us. Although i believe that there are non-victims who are able to get a measure of empathy for our dilemma.

i don't see the person, male or female, as being a freak or anything negative, but i can read the body language, vocal inflections, etc. i believe it came from being very right brained and more in tuned visually as a coping skill to keep myself safe. i was always hyper vigilant and very analytical about my where-abouts to the point of over analyzing most things.

i have found, i don't know how many, that i can recognize a perp as well. They can come from any walk of life and socioeconomical status, race, etc.

i was also a teacher in the early grade schools and i have seen many children whom i was certain were molested, etc., but i couldn't report because i didn't have enough evidence. But, that is getting better. Teachers have a lawful obligation to report a crime against a child, if aware of it.

That is a bit of my reality and how i see things from my point of view and experiences.


take care all


If you cannot control what happens to you, you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.

~ adapted from: Sri Ram

#403756 - 07/16/12 04:40 AM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]

Registered: 02/13/04
Posts: 983
I believe that MST causes Us to look at the World with an distrust of others . Or we are on guard most of the time.


"All I can do is be me, whoever that is"

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