30 People Reveal The Fucked Up Childhood Experiences They Didn’t Realize Were Disturbing Till They Were Older

swings in a park made for kids
Unsplash / Aaron Burden

Found on Ask Reddit


When I was about 6 my dad began having an affair with a much younger woman. She ended up moving pretty close by us after breaking up with her boyfriend. Anyway, cut to Halloween and we go around my very small neighborhood to trick or treat. After we finish up, my dad decides to take me to “more houses”. We end up driving to his girl’s house. She gave me a full size Snickers and then she disappeared with my dad for a while. I still remember the blue light flickering from the TV as I sat alone in her living room. I never said anything to my mom until much later. I kind of knew what was going on and didn’t want to hurt her. My dad has been married to this girl for almost 20 years now, she’s my stepmom. My mom was 6 months pregnant when this was all happening.

— pretty_little_liar89


When I was around 6, my family rented a smaller house on a farm. The farm was way out of the way and had a long road that led to the main street.

The owner of the land had a very smart and large German Shepherd named Lady. I would hang out with her a lot. One day Lady took off running all the way down the road and I ran after her. So as I was convincing to have her follow me back, a blue truck pulled up and a woman hopped out. She went on about Lady and how she used to own her when she was a younger before putting her up for adoption. I don’t remember much else of what she said, I responded here and there- but I do remember her offering to give me a ride up back to the house. The entire time Lady stayed right in front of me, staring the woman down and not moving. The lady took a step forward, Lady just growled at her and stayed her ground. Eventually the woman gave up trying to coerce me and left.

That night, I mentioned it to my brother, saying that I had met Lady’s previous owner. Because at 6, I had no fucking idea. He said, “Uhm, you know she was probably trying to kidnap you, right? Mrs. Anderson has had Lady since a young puppy.” It didn’t really hit me until I thought about it a few years ago.

When a dog knows someone(especially a previous, kind owner), they’re usually pretty fucking excited and greet them. But for her to protect me the way she did… it didn’t even cross my mind. Scary to think back on it.

— Sasshea


When i was 3 or 4 my dads coworker tried to kidnap me. I was in a booster seat and he was telling me about how he had a different, cool, booster seat and wouldn’t i like to ride in his truck? My dumb ass was all concerned over the booster seat not being right and then my dad walked out and asked what was going on and decked the guy. Idk why he wouldve tried that in the parking lot of my dads work but i remember this vividly

— krrcjr121612


Travelling on a coach with my mum, aunt, little sister and cousin. 5 year old me is looking out the window. Spot a guy in convertible alongside the bus and we lock eyes for a second. The car kinda slows and falls back out of sight before speeding up parallel to where I was in the bus again. The man is now holding a sausage in his lap and wiggling it at me. I think ‘hmm. weird. where’d he get that from?’ And proceed to smile and wave like 5 year olds do. Didn’t realise I’d waved at some pedo’s cock until I was about 17

— sparkysaysyes


I grew up in a pretty small and quiet town. When I was 8 or 9 I was riding my bike around the block while my mom and her friend visited. About 3 houses down from mine was a great big house that had been turned into a few apartments. One of the residents was a disabled man, and as I made another lap around I saw him staggering through the front lawn of that building muttering, and his whole body was wet and shiny with something red. I remember thinking that it looked like blood but just didn’t really believe it could be. I bicycled straight home just in case and told my mom and her friend that either the man down the block was bleeding or maybe (more likely in my mind) covered in ketchup. My mom’s friend looked over the fence and said “My god, it IS blood!” My mom called an ambulance but later that night she told me he died at the hospital because he had a disorder that didn’t allow his blood to clot. It turned out he had been stabbed multiple times by another resident. My Mom didn’t use the word “murder” that I recall and we didn’t have a TV so it wasn’t a concept I really got. Out cat had kittens that same night and I remember my mom talking about a balance of new lives being born vs people dying. I remember it being just interesting to me as a kid, but as an adult it seems pretty terrifying. I would be a lot more disturbed if I saw something like that now with a more full understanding of mortality and homicide, etc.

— GeckoPassion


I was 7. Had to pee really bad,but my mom was in the bathroom. After waiting and knocking (and complaining) i just went in without waiting for a response. Found my mom sitting on the toilet and slumped over pale as hell. As calm as i can be i call my aunt over who freaks and calls ambulance. My mom was gone for over a couple of months. Family just told me she was traveling whenever i asked about her. Years later i learned i screwed up my mom’s suicide attempt and she had been in a psych ward for months.

— HannahBanana3000


I found an unloaded (real) revolver in the street behind our apartment when I was about 5-6. Put it with my other (toy) cowboy guns (that was a thing). Played with it, didn’t like it much.

The real gun was heavy, and too hard for me to pull the trigger. The plastic ones were much more fun. Eventually my mom found it and (in retrospective surprise) didn’t freak out, just made it disappear.

— too_generic


My brother and I would be at my dads house (weekend visit) it would be like 9 or 10 at night. ( we were 10 & 6 Year’s old) all of a sudden he would be like let’s go for a ride. So we would load into the Jeep drive to some house I didn’t recognize and turn the Jeep off. He would tell my brother and I to not move and don’t make any noise and he would be back. Than he would disappear for 30 minutes to an hour.

— Son-Drizzle


My dad left me in a car in flood waters. I remember tippy tapping my feet in the water as it slowly filled the car.

Spoiler: I lived

— jettinappropriate


Lived next to some super duper Mormon people (living in Utah) They were strict Mormons and so the “obey your parents because of the word of wisdom” thing was deeply engrained in their family. The kids did all of the chores around the house and got “chore points” to spend. They spent them on a list of rewards. There were some smaller ones like “30 minutes on the computer” and some more expensive ones like “go on vacation to visit the cousins”. Pretty normal stuff right? Except the one that said “alone time with Daddy”.

Well 2 years after my family moved from that town, it turned out that their Dad was arrested on 20+ counts of molesting his poor kids. Haunts me to this day to think that I could have been a victim as well if my Dad didn’t have a suspicious feeling of the guy from day 1. My Dad has real life spidey-senses.

— HungoverPine


When I was around 9 I went snow sledding with family and friends. It was a popular sledding area with a few different hills and some woods. This older guy in his 40s had an awesome toboggan with a flashlight rigged up on the front. He was flying down hills 10x faster than anyone. He was there by himself and it was getting dark out. He came up to me and started telling me about this secret hill in the woods that was huge. He told me I could use his sled. I followed him for about 2 minutes until I realized I couldn’t see my family or friends anymore. I was maybe 20 feet into the woods before I was overcome with a horrible gutwrenching feeling. I dropped my sled and ran like hell back toward my family. I remember hearing his footsteps behind me moving as quickly as I was. By the time I got to my family and told them, he had disappeared.

I am 100% certain I would have been molested and/or murdered in those woods. Telling this story makes me feel the way I did when I was 20feet into those woods, 21 years ago. Scary as fuck.

— Gone333


I was 10 and my brother was 9. My next door neighbors were the same age as us. We were swimming in a state park. We went in to the bathroom and found a gay porn magazine in a stall. Nothing graphic, just naked gay dudes. We were going through the pages and laughing our asses off. When we walked out of the stall there was a naked man standing there looking at us. All four of us started laughing hysterically and ran out of there. About 25 years later I remembered it. I realized that naked man planted that magazine and was waiting for us. Still gives me the creeps.

— GeechieSmyche


My mom thought it was hilarious to switch from a conversation or tucking me in to saying “I’m not your mother” in a voice like a witch with a very creepy expression on her face and cackle. I have this extremely distinct memory of me having my door locked and her sticking a wire hanger under the door and saying this over and over. I come from a well-off middle class family, but granted this was probably at the peak of her bi-polar II struggles. Super fucked up now that I’m a grown adult in social work thinking back.

— brank


Adults driving drunk with us in the car. Just thought they were having a good time/acting funny/it was cool.

— killsforpie


When I was playing outside when I was about 11 my neighbor asked me if I wanted to see the puppy inside his car and I, always being taught about that creepers used that trick I said no, then he asked again, I said no a second time, and a third…and on the fourth he was like “Come on!! Why not??” And I felt really bad about assuming he was trying to be creepy so I peeked inside and there was an actual puppy in there. I told my mom about the whole thing later on in the day and she was shocked and very scared before she told me that he had molested two of his nieces, she was relieved that nothing happened.

— GalacticLupo


When I was in 7th grade or so, I had a best friend “Sammy”. She lived with her dad and brother, her parents were divorced and the father was raising the two kids. Her father was pretty funny and liked to joke around.

One particular day, Sammy and I were in her room. She had one of those folding room dividers between the door of her room and her bed. Her father came in and demanded that she change her underwear. Right at that time, when I was also there. And while she was changing her underwear, he was popping up and peeking over the divider.

I thought it was funny at the time and that he was joking around. Now, I’m not so sure.

— slinky999


Next door neighbor kid tried to drop a hammer on my head from a tree. It hit my shoulder, fortunately.

I had no idea I was almost killed.

The kid went to juvenile after trying to set our other neighbor’s house on fire.

— Jerk0


When I was in 6th grade, in 1984, my social studies teacher would reward students with trips to the movies with him or going out to eat or coming to his apartment to hang out. The cutest boys in class would win all the time, and it would always be weird reasons like “doing his best” or “being extra helpful.” I was jealous because girls never got to win. Years later I realized it was really sketchy. I even tried to find him, because it was possible he was still “giving good boys special treatment,” but he had died from lung cancer years before.

— forgetasitype


Older female Cousin asking me to suck her fingers over and over in private.

— zonewebb


I was playing at a friend’s house in grade school. I went looking for the bathroom, but opened the door to the laundry room instead. My friend’s mom was sitting on top of the dryer and completely freaked out when she saw me. It didn’t occur to me until about 20 years later that she was probably masturbating.

— WeepyBarometer


I was at a store with my mom when I was about 8 and I was wandering around in my own and these two guys kept staring me down and following me. Every corner I turned it seemed like one of them was there. I followed my gut and ran to my mom. She thought I was being dramatic but it was fine after that.

3 or 4 hours later my dad (a police dispatcher) called and said there were two guys caught trying to kidnap a little girl at that same store just a little bit after we left.

My mom didn’t tell me that part until about 18 years later. Thank god I followed my gut even as a kid.

— ungraceful_


When we were 5-6 years old one of the teachers at my primary school had a “favourite” kid in my class.

He wasn’t our teacher but if he was on playground duty he would come out to the playground when we were there, find her, crouch down on the ground and tell her to sit on his knee. Then when she did he would stroke her hair and tell her what beautiful blonde hair she had.

At the time the rest of us were kind of jealous of her because we thought it just meant she was important. She was kind of quiet but from a fairly rich family I guess and always had nice clothes and stationary, and this teacher would openly say she was his favourite and ask us where she was if he couldn’t find her.

I remember walking around a corner or something and seeing them by themselves, with her on his knee as he talked to her softly.

Years later I feel really quite disturbed by it. That poor kid.

— Salt-Pile


Growing up I was a quiet and shy kid but I’ve had vague memories of me at a young age screaming at the top of my lungs and being forced to take some sort of medications. I also had reoccurring, intense nightmares about being kidnapped. It wasn’t until last year (I’m 27) that my mom revealed a piece of my past that made everything click into place. When I was 4, a man lured me away during recess at my daycare and I was missing for about 6 hours. Nobody knows what exactly happened during that time except that he eventually dropped me off down the street from the daycare and sped off. After that, I started having severe episodes/fits that required sedatives to calm me down. They stopped with time because I think I repressed the incident. I still don’t know what happened while I was missing but the nightmares now make sense.

— WrongSideofaBanana


I was maybe 8? I found a Friendly’s employee overdosing in the men’s room…of a Friendly’s. He was just curled up in the corner convulsing when I walked in, I knew something was weird so I went back to the table and told me Dad, who got the manager. The rest is history I suppose.

— wanngledangler


I had a childhood friend for about a year or so who lived just down the street from me. He was a pretty normal kid from what I can recall. I remember him getting really excited one day about an upcoming visit from his uncle. He told me about a game that he and his uncle would always play together called “toiletee”. From what I remember him telling me, the game involved his uncle trying to finger dollar coins out of the kids naked ass and the kid doing the same to the uncle. This was only ever played in the kids tree fort and he was allowed to keep all the dollar coins when the game was over. Thank Christ no one was allowed to play except my friend and his uncle. I moved away a short time later and never saw the kid ever again. It wasn’t until many years later that I remembered it and thought to myself, “holy shit, that’s super fucked up”.

— TheRealWedgeAntilles


My POV: my sister and I were going door to door in the neighborhood to see which kids were available to play one summer. One of the boys down the street has his friend over and they want to play- something about a fort they built in the wooded area at the far end of our subdivision. So we walk away from the houses and into the woods for a while, the boys ahead of us not really talking to us as we follow. My sister grabs my hand and shouts to the boys “we have to go home now” and immediately turns around, taking me with her. We got a little lost, but nothing too serious. I remember mud and my sister crying but I figured it was because her pants were dirty. We eventually get back to houses and walk home, my sister cried to my mom for a bit, and for some reason we got two snacks(pretzels AND goldfish!) each and mom sat with us at the table while we ate them. Ultimately: a pretty decent day.

Looking back: I was 4/5, my sister was 6/7, and the neighbor kid was 15 at the time. My sister realized something wasn’t right and noped us out of whatever the fuck was going to happen to us in the woods and my mother 100% recognized that. I’ve talked about it with my sister a few times as adults and we agreed that was some serious fuckupery that we avoided that day. I can’t imagine what must have been going through my mom’s head and now that I’m now near the age she was at the time, I really want to talk to her about it.

— AndWhatWeAreIs


When I was really young (maybe 9 or 10) a friend of my parents came knocking on the door around 3am covered in blood. He had just stabbed his wife and her sancho (other boyfriend). He caught them in bed.

— iamher84


When I was probably like 8 I was playing frisbee with my cousin 3 years older than me infront of his house. I was closest to the road and had my back to it. I noticed him crane his neck and look down the road before throwing the frisbee extra hard way over my head out into the middle of the street. I remember thinking, “Oh, he checked for cars first. Smart.” So I ran out without looking, completely trusting him. I came a couple feet from getting hit by a car that luckily was paying attention and slammed on the brakes. I got in a lot of trouble (and made fun of by my cousin) for not being aware of the road and possibility of cars coming through. It wasn’t until I was older that I thought about the part where he looked down the road first and must have seen the car coming and had the idea to try to get his little girl cousin hit by a car. He did a lot of creepy sociopath kind of stuff like that growing up. Now he has a wife and two kids so I hope he grew out of it.

— Lady-Charb


When I was about five, my family went to a new park to play baseball. It was in an area we hadn’t been to (we lived in Denver but didn’t typically stray too far) and I wasn’t thrilled (fuck baseball).

Anyhow, after much pleading I got permission from my mom to go play up on the hill about 100 yards away. There was a huge swing set that was still within view of the field. They’re engrossed in their game, arguing over who has to sit in the outfield, yada yada, and I’m just chilling on my swing, minding my own business, playing Never Ending Story, when a couple of girls that were young enough to not be scary, but old enough to be super cool (12 maybe?) showed up, start screwing around on the slide, then asked me what I’m doing.

They ask about my life, talk nerdy 80s and early 90s movies with me, and ask what I like to do. I say dancing, and they say “ohhh us too! Yeah, Mark loves watching us dance!”

In my naïveté I say “my dad loves coming to my dance recitals too.”

They giggle and tell me no, Mark is kind of like their substitute dad since neither of them have dads. He’s a man that takes care of them because they don’t have moms or dads and he wants to take care of them. They explain they aren’t related, just friends that didn’t have a home, so they live in the same home together, but Mark is great because he takes them to travel and meet other girls their age.

Well I like to travel, I say.

Really? Come meet Mark, they say, we think you’d really like him. He’s nice to us, he would love to have a friend that’s younger to spoil. He gives them lots of presents they say, especially when they have fun with his friends.

I want to, Mark sounds like a cool dude, they’re really nice girls, non threatening. Never talk to strange adults, right? but these girls aren’t adults and they vouch for Mark.

However, that morning, the discovery of Alie Berrelez’s body had been in the local paper. My mom, typically a free range parent, had been loathe to let me stray from her side that morning, so reluctantly, I tell them, nope, I’m going to go see what my family is doing, and I run down the hill before they can protest. I didn’t have any reservations about hanging out with them, I just knew if I disappeared my mom would be pissed.

I told my Mom, she blew it off as a funny story, and I mostly forgot about it. It wasn’t until this past year, when I did training on investigations into human trafficking, that I remembered those girls. I hope they were either 100% full of shit or turned out alright.

— Auntie_Ahem


I was probably 10 when I used to hang at an old friends house to play video games and stuff. He would sometimes go into his older sisters dirty laundry and sniff/lick his sisters panties. I was mostly preoccupied with Battlefront 2 (the real one) so I never really thought about it. It wasn’t until a few years back when I was daydreaming and that memory came back. I verbally said “What the fuck” out loud in the Arby’s I was eating in

— Legsofwood

Callie is a writer, editor, and publisher at Thought Catalog. Her debut book, ‘The Words We Left Behind,’ was released in January 2024.

Keep up with Callie on Instagram, Twitter and calliebyrnes.com

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