Complex Childhood Trauma: Finding Your Way Through


Dedicated to all unsung heroes, your story matters but more importantly, so does your recovery. 

A friend of mine mentioned he had a craving to hear the cranberries today and I thought wow blast from the past - my early days in Sydney and first ever mardi gras memories flooded back in….  

Then he told me that the lead singer had died, unknown causes and I recalled her pretty pixie face with a cracking eclectic voice that had shrills of melancholia. I googled and looked at her face once more only to see in every picture, great strain and an unspoken story of pain beneath the surface. Later we discovered she had mental illness and possibly linked to a history of childhood sexual abuse.  

Now whether that’s true is yet to be fully confirmed but it got me thinking about complex childhood trauma and its impact on adult survivors. So many in the media have taken a stand to confront their abusers and tell their stories to aid their recovery process, the church and commission currently running, and now the latest sexual harassment claims that keep arising in the movie industry.  


'Those who know look at each other, just like war veterans, its a club and a legacy experienced by so many.'  


It also occurred to me the number of clients over the years walking through my doors haunted by a legacy of complex childhood trauma is, to be blunt, staggering. No stranger to trauma from my own early life, I have forever been on the road of surviving to thrive. Some days I’m there and others it can seem so out of reach.  

The important point I want to make is that complex childhood trauma is more insidious than general trauma (not to negate or hierarchicalise trauma) as it involves neglect and abuse by and from caretakers. Children rely on parents for survival and when the said parent abuses, in order to stay attached, the child develops strategies to negate parental misdemeanors ensuring their own livelihood.  

Loss of authenticity and survival mechanisms come into play masking a deep pain, an emptiness that can feel isolating, misunderstood and silent.  It is a deep gnawing pain that so few can understand let alone support. Those who know look at each other, just like war veterans, its a club and a legacy experienced by so many.  

Trauma specialist, Peter Levine, tells us that the psyche freezes trauma and in the body’s infinite wisdom reenacts past events in the present to unlock the trauma that's needing to be released. Complex trauma is layered beneath survival mechanisms so without awareness, people tend to find escape routes until the pain is so great they are forced to seek avenues to heal. This isn’t about making choices and handling pain in certain ways a judgment, it's about understanding how the process can work.  

At Northwest Bowen we know that any kind of trauma, be it from injury or complex abuse, will be treated with reverence and respect. Respect for the journey that has brought them to this point and respect for the courage to be willing to face their trauma in order to transcend it.  

I’m not purporting that we cure or fix complex trauma but we do provide a space and structured process for the individual to learn how to feel safe within themselves enough to relax thereby providing freedom and confidence from being totally consumed by the pain of the past, to be able to breathe a little easier, disassociate a little less, hold themselves to stay present enough to let the light of love shine on the deep dark ravaging pain that’s been there forever. It does not need to be a legacy of ongoing pain,  it can be the journey onto sacred ground, that of the hero within.

Anthony Robbins - your deepest pain is your greatest gift if you learn how to use it…. Genine Hill.jpg

Genine Hill is a Diploma qualified specialised bowen therapist, body mind facilitator, reiki master teacher, astrologer and dedicated devotee to her own process to be able to hold the space to serve those who seek her specific skills.  Genine creates a safe and nurturing environment to enable clients to face themselves in order to move forward and transform their lives… if you know anyone that may benefit from her support please visit or book an appointment on 0415 703 725.

See Blue Knot for up to date courses, workshops, counseling for adult survivors of childhood abuse.  

Genine HillComment