38 People Reveal Their Traumatic Childhood Experiences That Messed Them Up For Life

Your childhood could’ve been a lot worse. Some people were trapped in their own personal hell back when they were kids. If you read through some of these terrifying stories from Reddit, you’ll realize how good you had it.

Drew Wilson
Drew Wilson

1. Our mother tried to murder us

When I was five years old, my sister four, I woke up on a stretcher in the hospital. All I remember at first are incredibly bright lights and sterile, white walls. A pretty nurse with curly blonde hair and bright red lipstick kept worrying over me. I think I may have been strapped down but I don’t remember. I have no idea why I didn’t put up a fight because I do remember there being a tube down my throat. To this day I can’t stand the thought of gagging or throwing up. For some reason I couldn’t understand why she was so worried. I just wanted her to laugh. So every time she would give me the next shot in my arm, I would try to gasp, look at her, then roll my eyes and pretend to pass out. I’d open my eyes and let out a muffled laugh and she would smile.

My Dad would randomly burst into the room. He looked terrified. I didn’t understand why he kept leaving until way later when I was told they had my sister and I in opposite rooms. Apparently my heart stopped nine times. It wasn’t long until my sister and I found out our mother had tried to overdose us on her pills. It was another two decades before I realized she didn’t have a psychotic break like I thought; she was just mad at my Dad for drinking and wanted to get back at him.

2. I saw the dead bodies of my neighbors during the war

My memories from the Lebanese civil war. Witnessing bombs going off in front of us. Shells hitting the road in front of our house. Hiding in shelters with 50 people in a tiny room (with no bathroom). Having a mortar shell hitting the upper levels of the shelter and killing our neighbors. Having to see the bodies of our dead neighbors.

This was just one week of living through the war.

3. My neighbor beat the shit out of my cat

I got home early from school one day. I was about 9 or so. My parents were out, my brother and sister were still doing their high school activities. The doorbell rings, and my neighbor brings me my cat in some weird plastic container, meowing pitifully and looking like she was in pain. Apparently, my little shit of a next door neighbor thought that my cat wandering into his yard was some kind of trespassing. He was maybe a year younger than me, and he decided to beat the ever living shit out of my cat… for walking into his yard. My other neighbor saw this, and did her best to get my cat away. I couldn’t get in touch with anyone who had a car and could take her to the vet. This was before cell phones were used by anyone other than executives and drug dealers, so I scrambled about trying to find a ride. About 20 minutes later, I find my cat had died behind the sofa. The kid got put on some list, and my parents (and his parents) made him bury my cat. Little shit.

4. My babysitter touched us inappropriately

We had a live in housekeeper/nanny when I was around 4. She used to take me to her quarters and touch me and make me touch her.

Also, when my parents went out, she’d look after us. She used to put my older sister to bed and then make me watch porn.

5. My brother committed suicide

Walking up the driveway and seeing two ambulance attendants putting a stretcher in back of their vehicle. The white sheet had drying blood on the head end. I’d find out five minutes later my older bother committed suicide. It was Feb. 8, 1966 and I was five years old.

6. My father went missing for nine months

When I was 4, my dad went missing for 9 months. I still remember the first time seeing an Ingles store a few towns over (we didn’t have them in my town) while we were out searching for him. I thought we must have traveled very far since I was seeing such a big, unfamiliar store out of the car window.

The reason he left was because he had been working outside at his job, and his bipolar meds basically became ineffective due to how much sun exposure he was getting. In the days before he left, he kept saying weird things that I didn’t know what to make of at my age. Things like “Stop watching Lassie. That show is of the devil” and “You can’t use your Beauty and the Beast blanket because it hints at the number of the antichrist.” Little me was baffled but obeyed. I now know that excessive religiosity is a warning sign to get his meds checked.

His truck was found abandoned and partially wrecked 2 states away about 4 months into his time missing. That was rough for my mom. Our outside cat had recently had kittens so I used to pick them up and take them to her inside to try to help. She thought he was dead for sure. Eventually, he was found wondering around an interstate several more states away with his jacket, wallet, and a bible piled neatly in the left lane.

He was able to sort out his medication levels and has only had a few issues with needed med adjustments since then. I, however, was traumatized for many years after, and I’d latch onto his leg for the first little bit after he got home, fearing he’d leave again…

Worst part? He feels guilty to this day. I’m always trying to tell him, “dude, not your fault! So not your fault!” This is why we need to talk about mental health more. My dad has been a model provider, father, husband, and granddad all these years, but he still carries guilt for circumstances that he didn’t set out to enact.

7. I almost died when a bus smashed into our car

When I was five I was in a car accident. The car I was in was rear ended by a bus. This knocked us into the intersection against a red light where we were broadsided by a bus. The only reason I’m not dead is I decided to sit in the middle seat in the back so I could look out the front window. Vehicles terrified me for years.

8. My father stole us from our mother

We (Americans) were living in Isfahan, Iran. My mom went to France for a vacation. While she was gone our dad packed up his stuff and took me (10) and my sister (12) away, leaving the house empty and no note, so when my mom got back she had no idea where we were.

Meanwhile we got on a plane and deplaned in Madrid, to our surprise. We were met by an attractive woman. Our dad said, “This is your new mother. You’ll never see your old mother again.”

After that it got interesting: We went to Majorca to this woman’s vacation house where her kids were waiting. They had us tell her three kids our parents would divorce and remarry each other, then our dad put us in a boarding school in England that was straight out of a Dickens novel. My sister and I were forbidden to talk to each other, the school grounds were patrolled and surrounded by barbed wire to stop runways, we slept in unheated dorms, we took a bath in an inch of cold water every morning, and classes ran from early in the morning till after dark. I could go on.

After about four months of trying, our mom found us by writing to all the churches of her denomination in England and France (she had found something in the empty house in Iran that clued her in) and asked them to check local boarding schools for her two kids. Around Christmas we were both sent to the office for “a visitor” and there stood our mom.

It was a very odd experience. Years later I brought it up with my dad and all he would say was, “It was a difficult time.”

9. A cougar chased me through the forest

Scariest: being stalked through the woods by a cougar. My aunt owns a nice big property out in the backwoods, and cougar sightings aren’t all that uncommon. Her friends will frequently call her and report sightings so she can bring her dogs in. Anyway, I was about 6-7 at the time, and I was exploring some old overgrown trails near her house with my Mom, cousin (She was 4-5 at the time) and aunts. We go pretty deep into the woods, and it starts to get dark, so we start to head back. Then, we noticed everything was eerily silent, and our parents were acting strange, scanning the woods, looking in all directions. Then, we hear a low growl, too close for comfort. Thinking back, in was unmistakably a cougar’s growl. Then, the house comes into view, about 200-250 meters away. Then, one of our aunts says “Guys, we’ll race you back to the house. GO!” and she, my cousin and I bolt for the house, and we notice my Mom and other aunt are still staring something in the woods down, backing away slowly. We eventually all got to the house, locked the door, and they told us that we weren’t actually playing tag, but fleeing from an angry cougar.

10. A tornado tore down my house and knocked me unconscious

I have two in particular that stand out.

When I was 5 years old, an F3 tornado destroyed our house. This was around 2 in the morning and my mom couldn’t get to my room fast enough. After the tornado had passed, she finds me, unconscious and motionless, with about 20 bricks on my head. Pulls them off to find a hole in the back of my head, not breathing. Somehow started randomly breathing about 20 seconds later. Woke up, it was raining in my room, and all I could feel was my pillow was soaked in red water, and I felt the back of my head, and my finger actually went into the hole. Yea, that scared the shit out of me.

When I was 8, my dad tried to kill me, my mom and sister. A month later, my dad would go on to commit suicide.

Those two, especially my dad trying to kill us, and then committing suicide, really fucked me up for awhile.

11. My father removed my teeth with a hammer

When I was 15, I needed to get braces. I had a few baby teeth that never came out and needed removal. My parents didn’t want to pay the $100/tooth for some baby teeth that had no roots so…

I agreed to let my dad take them out…with a hammer.

He put a pencil up against the tooth and tapped it out and it fucking hurt. They weren’t loose at all. Very much stuck in and stuck to my gums. The first one didn’t come out all the way after the first tap. So he had to do hit one twice.

There was still a second tooth after the first. The second one popped out pretty easily though still painfully, then fell down throat where I nearly choked on it.

What I realize now is that my dad gave me plenty of entertaining stories for my life, but also that I was an amazingly obedient teenager.

Btw this is like the late 90s. Not the 60s. My dad wasn’t even in his 40s yet. So not some old times frugal Great Depression survivor, just a little bit hillbilly.

12. I saw a man decapitate himself

When I was a kid, my grandparents lived on a lake. They had a dining area that overlooked the water. We would often sit around the table playing card games.

So one winter day I was sitting there learning the ins and outs of childhood gambling when I looked to see a man snowmobile straight into a dock and decapitate himself.

And the thing is, you can’t clean ice. You can’t clean snow. So this huge red blight stayed there for months. The snow would fall, melt and fall again, but it was always there.

It was either that or the time my sister chased me with a dog turd and dropped it in my mouth just as I let out a scream.

13. I witnessed a plane crash

Long story short but saw Flight 587 crashing into the ground killing over 200 people. I was 14 at the time shopping with my mom. It was right after 9/11 in a small beach town. I could see the people in the windows that’s how low they were. They found out there was a rudder malfunction which caused it to fall out of the sky. Scary experience to say the least.

14. My sibling physically abused me

When I was 8 or 9 my brother beat me senseless, gave me a concussion (I think, I never went to the hospital but I was dizzy and nauseous) and gave me a bloody nose. I would have gotten over that, but when I brought it up later my mother tried to convince me that it didn’t happen, I’d just blown up a normal sibling fight in my head, my brother had only accidentally punched me in the face. When I tried to tell other family members, I got the same reaction. This process would repeat itself, slowly escalating over the years, until I was in my 20s and finally called the police. Not that the police helped, but it got me kicked out of the family, so it was effective regardless. For some reason, child abuse is taken very seriously until it comes from an older sibling.

15. A squirrel fell into our fireplace

I was 4 years old, taking a nap with my puppy in front of our fireplace.

It was the first winter that we were in the house, so it was the first time we used the fireplace. All of a sudden I hear a massive CRACK and a blood curdling shriek.

The first one fell from the fireplace, the first flaming squirrel. It attacked. I freaked the fuck out because a spawn of satan was charging a full speed right for me, but then I saw it was going for my best friend, my puppy. I kicked this kamikaze squirrel 4 feet straight in to the curtain.

Then the rest fell from the chimney. It was like a scene from Lord of the Rings when the orcs piled down the mountain, but instead it was 10 flaming baby squirrels charging out of the flames. I couldn’t take them all, there were too many, I fled. I watched from a distance as my dog grabbed these horrifying monsters, and immediately dropped them due to the on fire part. He fled as well.

My parents made it upstairs and called the Fire department. Our house was fine, singed but fine. I remember all of the baby squirrels running around in little circles as their flesh burnt off their bodies. I didn’t really understand what I was seeing, I just knew it was terrifying. Looking back it was one of the most horrifying things that I have witnessed.

16. My mother would leave me alone for days at a time

Every time my mom left to go party I knew that she would be gone for days and I’d have to figure something out till she got back. I thought it might stop after she had my brother. It didn’t. The worst one was when I was eight. She handed me my baby brother who was one month old, and left. An old man lived in the apartment above and he had figured out her pattern and would come visit me when she was gone. What he did to me was wrong. I told my mom once, but she brushed it off.

Well, I wasn’t going to let it happen this time, not with a baby to protect. I ran out of the house with my charge, and went to a neighbors house and they called my grandma. I’ve never felt so much relief as when I saw her. CPS gave us back to my mom a week later. She had three more kids after that and things just got worse.

17. I jumped out a window to escape my father

When I had to flee from my dad. Jumped out of the window of his house during the winter of 2000 after he had pushed my mom out the front door down the stairs and tried to keep me inside by force. I jumped out, ran through the snow without shoes to my mother and then she drove me home, never to return.

My granddad visited my dad with an axe some weeks later to collect my stuff.

18. I watched my father run over a helpless kitten

Growing up we lived on an acreage in the country. We had a lot of stray farm cats that ultimately wound up having kittens. We took them in, giving them food and shelter in our shed. One summer day my dad and i decided to mow the lawn. We had about 10 acres and a pond so we of course used riding mowers. My dad needed to back the mowers out of the shed where the kittens were playing, but didn’t want to round them out before backing up. I told him to wait, so i could grab them. I had to have been about 8 years old. He said to not worry, they will run out when the mower starts… They did run when he started it. Scared them. One went the wrong direction and then turned around to run out… right as my dad was backing up and smashed it’s poor little head. It was absolutly awful. The kitten’s skull was flattened and was flopping around the ground. I screamed bloody murder and told my dad i hated him. My mother told me later he cried that day. Something my father most certainly does not do. Remembering that sweet kitten getting ran over so god damn slowly still makes me sad.

19. My mother had a mental breakdown and tried to kill me

When i was 12 my momma suffered a mental break. She ranted and screamed at my brother and I while I tried to hide him. As I was trying to get him out of the house she pulled her little .25 and tried to shoot us both. The first time she pulled the trigger and it jammed. Before she pulled it again I tackled her. I still don’t know how the hell I managed to get it away from her. I guess she wasn’t at her full strength because of the break. But I still have nightmares about that and it was 17 years ago.

20. I found my dad’s best friend after he killed himself

I found my dad’s best friend after he committed suicide. I think I was 4 years old. We lived in the same apartment complex. He came to visit us that night, said his goodbyes and killed himself when he left.

I used to go to his house pretty much everyday to play video games and hang out with him and his girlfriend. Well the next morning I found him when I was walking to his apartment and seen him sitting down by the laundry mat covered in blood and flies. I ran back home and told my dad.

I had no idea what had happened at the time, I didn’t understand what death meant. I was always confused when my dad would tear up and tell me that I couldn’t go over to his house.

21. A psychopath smashed into our car on purpose

I was like 3 or so and was riding with my Mom in her car, we were out shopping that day. I got to sit in the front seat, which was awesome.

We were stopped at a red light, waiting for it to change. To the right of us, was a parking lot for a Hotel. There was some asshole waiting in the parking lot waiting for us to turn (She kept beeping her horn at us), but then this psycho bitch got SICK AND TIRED of waiting for all of 5 fucking seconds for the light to turn green and floored it, SMASHING into the right side of the car… Which just so happened to be the fucking seat I was sitting in.

The damage wasn’t very severe. I did get my leg trapped between the seat and door, but was fine otherwise. The fire fighters had to pull me out. I was scared to shit and crying, but was fine.

I got to sit in a real police car, so that was cool.

From what I was told years later, apparently that psychotic bitch tried to claim that Mom was at fault, which totally didn’t fly because a Police Officer was waiting at the light too and saw everything.

I was also apparently scared of riding in a car for a while after that, but I don’t remember that.

22. My brother was hit by a drunk driver

When I was 15 my 10 year old brother was hit by a drunk driver while riding a bike. He had a severe head injury and died a week later. At the funeral when they were going to bury him, I left because it was too much for me to handle and I have felt for years that I never really told him goodbye.

23. My father was arrested over death threats

Being pulled out of school because my dad had been arrested for calling in drunken threats to family members. When we got home, we had to clean up the mess made by all the cops. The door was off its hinges from being battered in. Not much dinner conversation that night.

24. A bullet went through our car window

I was pretty young at the time. It was new years or the night before and my stingy mom decided to take us to Burger King. This was cause for massive celebration amongst my siblings and I. So much so, that my older brother even let me ride shotgun. I was in in kid heaven, cloud 9, and fucking amped out of my mind. We are riding down the street and I heard a bang and then my window blew out. My mom flies down the street and starts freaking out and calls the police. Turns out, some guy got his teen a gun for Christmas and decided to test it out on us. Everyone was crying besides myself because I couldn’t take it in whatsoever. Eventually I did. I still get anxious riding shotgun.

25. My mother drew a heart in her own blood

My mother was a bad alcoholic. And quote abusive. In an effort to break into my bedroom which was locked, she began slamming her head against the door and giving herself a bloody nose. She then wrote a heart and I love you in her blood on the door and walls. Which I had to clean up the next day. She also stabbed my dad in the face with her car keys in a violent struggle.

26. A man tried to sexually abuse me

When i was 4, I remember playing in the street by myself. Some dude grabbed my and took my into the bushes at the end of the street. He pulled down his pants and showed his dick, and told my to lick it. When I refused he tried lifted my dress and tried to pull down my panties. Then he asked if I wanted to go to his house so that we could play. Then I ran back home.

27. My babysitter had a stroke while watching me

When I was two or three, babysitter had a stroke and died while she was watching me. My parents came home and found me curled up on the kitchen floor with my head on her chest.

My earliest memory is screaming when my mom pulled me off of her, and the. EMTs trying to revive her. I can remember the sound of her ribs snapping under their hands like it was yesterday.

28. My father tried to hang himself

I was around 3. I ran outside in the middle of the night because I could hear my mother screaming. I seen dad hanging himself from my treehouse. I ran down the street screaming for help. The neighbours called an ambulance. After mum cut him down he broke both legs from the fall and was pronounced dead for a few minutes but he was able to be revived. I’m currently 16 and I live with my dad and he is fine.

29. My father went into a coma

Waking up in the morning finding out that my dad is in the hospital in a coma at 6 years old. Turns out he fell backwards down a flight of 13 wooden stairs. He was in a coma for 15 days.

I don’t see him for at least 2 months. I’m not sure exactly, though. When me and my brother finally get to see him he can only speak in a high pitch whisper as if it’s straining to speak. I remember sometime during that day, a nurse took off his shirt and undid a stomach strap to reveal a large tube connected to his stomach. She proceeds to pour some sort of canned food into to feed him. It was kind of strange and horrifying. Knowing that daddy can’t behave like he used to.

Later, in the day, after seeing him and walking out, all of a sudden, we hear from a nurse that my dad is nowhere to be found. Turns out, he was trying to leave the hospital and go home. I think he got to the parking lot before they found him. Ever since then, they always put a net over his bee so he wouldn’t be able to escape.

While he was in the hospital, he had to relearn everything, including how to remember stuff.

It was really weird for me but also just sad. I didn’t fully understand what was happening or why he had so many problems.

Now, my dad is just fine, he has a full time job and raised both me and my brother on his own. He was one of the best fathers I could ask for, even if he wasn’t there for a lot of emotional support. I still had a great childhood and took a lot of opportunities that he allowed me to do. I have an awesome dad!

30. My foster sister’s boyfriend tried to murder us

When I was around 9 or 10 my family was hosting foster children whenever we could. Will never forget the night a girl had broken up with a boyfriend who didn’t take it well and escalated from throwing a couple rocks through a bedroom window to throwing himself through our living room picture window.

My father was away working, my mother was able to escape, myself, my little sister and our foster sister were trapped in the house.

I remember getting my little sister downstairs hidden (albeit not very well) in a bedroom in the basement while the crazed ex started smashing windows out upstairs in I can only assume was a fit of rage, then kicked down the locked bathroom door and took and held his ex hostage at knife point until the police arrived (sadly took a long time) and were able to arrest the crazy SOB.

I remember him yelling crazy shit about killing her and finding us and then fighting with the police. Fortunately, while traumatized, our foster sister was thankfully physically okay and this guy never made it downstairs.

The thing etched in my memory is when my little sister and I finally had been told by police to come upstairs the floors to the ceiling was covered in blood – smashing out the windows had cut him up badly.

A hell of a thing but it put a lot of other experiences into perspective.

31. I almost drowned in the pool

I remember falling into a pool when I was a toddler. I was flailing my arms in such a way that I was pushing myself down rather than up. I could see people above the water on the deck looking down at me. Then I saw a man in a white dress shirt and a black tie dive into the pool at the far other end. That’s all I remember. My mom says that last part never happened.

32. I was forced to choose between my mother and father

I was born in Edmonton, while my mother was originally from Ontario. When I was four years old, my mom had decided she wanted to move back home to be close to friends and family, with or without my father. My dad did not want to move, did not want to sell the house. I can vaguely remember being asked who I wanted to live with. Either stay with dad or leave with mom. I was being waited on for an answer, as my mother was looking to hop on the train that evening. I chose to go with mom and remember how sad my dad looked when we left. It wasn’t until later my mom explained to me the entire situation, but the look on my father’s face will be forever embedded in my memory.

33. I bit my tongue off and couldn’t speak for months

When i was 8, I was in cub scouts. After each meeting, we’d go outside and play manhunt till our parents came. Our troop met at our church, which had a house on the premises we used for our meetings.

This night I was going to hide, and ran around this bush to hide behind. Behind the bush was a window well for the basement, and I tripped over the concrete edge. When I was little I used to run with my tongue out, and when I tripped, I slammed my jaw down on the other side of the opening on the concrete edge. Teeth clacked together and my tongue fell right off.

I picked it up and ran to our Den Leader (one of the other kids moms). All she was was blood on my face and took me inside. She asked me what was wrong and thats when i held my tongue up to her, she almost fainted. She called my parents and told them to get there immediately as i had hurt myself. I do recall her asking me if I wanted some ice cream to help with the pain in my mouth, I tried to talk but it just came out bleh blur bleh blah.

Mom came and got me, took me to the hospital. They gave me pain meds, but by the time it came for the doctor to work on it, it had worn off. I remember punching the doctor in the chest when he started prodding in my mouth. They brought in a back brace and strapped me down then. They were able to re-attach, but I was unable to speak for 6 months, had to re-learn how to talk. Think that was the most peaceful time of my moms life.

34. My father murdered my mother

When I was seven years old I woke up in the middle of the night to screams and tumbling sounds, which were not too uncommon since my parents had a lot of fights. Suddenly everything went silent and I heard my father mumbling while crying. Police showed up a couple of minutes later. When I rushed into the living room while a policeman was trying to stop me, I caught a glimpse of the scene that had unfolded. My father killed my mother through blunt force trauma. The image of my emotionally crushed father crying over the body of my bloodshed, dead mother will forever haunt me.

35. I bit into chocolate full of maggots

I once bit into a chocolate I got during Halloween only to realize that the chocolate was extremely old and filled with maggots. I no longer eat chocolate without breaking it into multiple tiny pieces.

And I once took notice of the dangerously jagged and sharp rocks right below a ski-lift landing. I subsequently fell off the ski-lift onto the farthest end of the landing. The scariest part was desperately clawing at the landing and being unable to climb up because of the loose snow and then falling to what I thought was going to be a gruesome and gory death. Luckily, there was a small safety net below so I didn’t die. I don’t ski or ride ski-lifts anymore.

36. I watched my friend get shot in the head

Watched my friend get shot in the head and held him as he bled out. The helplessness you feel is insane and you can never really get that feeling of blood and brains off your hands. Still shiver any time I see a gun.

Worse part is that it wasn’t that long ago and I’m still a kid.

37. I got electrocuted

Water was spraying out of a pipe on my house and my little sister and I were the only ones home. When I called 911 they said to stay out of the house because it is going to hit an outlet and shock everything. Both of my dogs were in the room and I opted out of that to get them. The water hit me and tore a cut in my side. I got the dogs off and the firemen came and stopped it before it hit an outlet. It may not sound bad but it was terrifying.

38. I found ants in my apple

Bit into an apple to find an ant hive in it.

Now I always cut an apple in half before eating it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Holly is the author of Severe(d): A Creepy Poetry Collection.

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