25 People Reveal The Painful Childhood Event That Traumatized Them For Life

These true stories from Ask Reddit will churn your stomach, because there’s nothing more unfair than a rough childhood.
Unsplash, Noah Silliman
Unsplash, Noah Silliman

1. My sister drowned while I was watching her

“My 18 month old little sister drowned while 10-year-old me was supposed to be keeping an eye on her while my mom did some laundry. The image of her tiny little body all limp and blue has never really left me.” — kinwonderland

2. I watched a woman burn to death

“I saw a women burn to death in her car after an accident as she frantically tried to get out of her mangled car.” — Heroinandhiccups

3. I was forced to eat my own vomit

“My former stepmom would often make foods she knew I didn’t like. Every time I puked, she would force me to eat my own vomit. If I didn’t, she would pick me up by my hair and drag me to my room and I could only come out if I promised to eat it(or when my dad came home). I still can’t eat anything orange without feeling sick.” — killedbambismom

4. My mother gave me pills I wasn’t supposed to take

“My parents divorced when I was very young. Before I started school at age 4, my dad used to come get me every Monday/Wednesday/Friday/every other weekend. One Wednesday he called my mom and said he couldn’t get me that day, had to stay late at work.

I was a daddy’s girl and took this very hard. I remember crying and pleading for him to pick me up. My mom took that as ‘I don’t want to spend time with mom.’ She pretended to call an orphanage, made me pack all my clothes up in boxes and threw me out on the porch to wait for the orphanage truck to pick me up.

I, a little 3 or 4 year old girl, sat outside, alone, on the porch in a bad neighborhood for at least an hour convinced I’d never see my dad again. At the end she told me I was so bad even the orphanage didn’t want me.

She also made me take weird pills one time. My dad has confirmed that I never had an illness that would require this. I remember they made me shakey. I think that was in second grade. I still can’t take pills to this day.

I am 21 now and haven’t spoken to her in 9 years.” — halcyonights

5. I was whipped with an extension cord

“Probably being beaten and locked outside/in a closet for days at a time. Drinking hose water and begging for food from neighbors. The worst time being in the snow after being whipped by an extension cord (the heavy duty kind) and knocked unconscious having my head kicked into a fireplace corner. Woke up in the snow covered in blood. I was lucky our big fluffy chow mix didn’t mind sharing his dog house and I was smart enough to leave my coat and stuff on the outside porch by then. Snow helps welts and cuts.” — BigSloppySunshine

6. I was molested by my older brother

“My brother molested me when we were kids. I can’t remember how old I was or old he was. I want to say he was 12 or 13? It went on for awhile and I thought it was normal and then it felt started feeling wrong. I was friends with the neighbor girl and he wanted me to go get her one day. I refused to go get her and eventually told my Grandmother. She told my mother who waited until she left and called me a liar.” — Blood_Warrior

7. I came home to a house covered in blood

“I lived in an old farmhouse at the end of a long dirt road, so the school bus would drop me off at the end and I’d walk the rest of the way by myself. One afternoon, as 6-year-old me rounded the curb that led to the house, I noticed that my dad’s truck was parked on the side of the road. Thinking only, ‘Cool, Daddy’s home!’ I began an excited sprint towards the house.

The first thing I noticed was that Mom’s car was gone. It had NEVER been gone before, but I figured dad was there instead. Only seconds later, as I hopped up on to the porch, did I notice that something was REALLY, REALLY WRONG. There were bloody footprints of all types and sizes going up the front steps, and turning back I noticed they went all the way down the little concrete path to where the yard met the road. Upon closer inspection, there was blood EVERYWHERE. It was splattered on the walls and windows and porch posts. Little bits were dried up and stuck between the holes in the mesh of the screen door. I still opened it. The front door had less blood than the screen door did, but the doorknob was all bloody. I turned it anyways, and found it was locked but the blood was still wet. Very calmly and practically, I wiped it on my pants and went around to the opposite side of the house to check the back door, but found I couldn’t get to it because all of the screen doors were latched. About that point, I also noticed that my dogs were missing; two big golden retrievers who were so happy to see me every day that they’d knock me over more often than not. I was completely alone.

Just to be sure, I made what felt like a very long walk around the perimeter of the house and yard, and finding no evidence of my family and no hints as to where they had gone, I picked up my backpack and started to walk down the hill towards the road, noting that my own footprints now joined the multiple sets tracked around the property in blood.

Strangely enough, it’s the part that comes next that still haunts me. I don’t know how I was able to remain so level-headed and emotionless upon finding my house abandoned in such a state, especially with my dogs missing. But after realizing that my parents hadn’t left a note, I decided the best course of action would be to start walking until I found somebody that could help me.

I know I didn’t process it appropriately because I was only six (if that) but I do remember having this weird hollow feeling while thinking, ‘My parents are dead. My dogs are dead. My baby brother is dead. It’s just me now.’

An adult might describe it as being in shock, but all I remember is how accepting I was of the whole thing. It didn’t really occur to me to cry or lose my cool, nor did I really have much of a plan so I mostly focused on walking, looking down at the dirt and gravel as I kicked up dust with each step. For a couple of hours, even as the sun dropped low to the horizon with no street lights to guide me, I just kept walking without thinking or feeling much of anything. I’m not sure it even occurred to me that I should be really, really upset.

My parents found me about a quarter of a mile down the highway from the road we lived on, headed towards the Methodist church where I had children’s choir sometimes. It turned out that my dad had run over one of our dogs with his truck and instead of passing out or falling down, this dumb ol’ dog did the opposite: She ran all over the place, making it a huge ordeal just to catch up to her and keep her still. To make matters worse, our older male dog was very protective of her and wouldn’t let my parents take her away for veterinary care.

So, in all their rush and confusion to save the dog’s life, they swooped up my baby brother and both dogs, put them in mom’s car and hauled ass to the closest animal hospital which was in another county.

I still wonder how it would’ve turned out if they’d taken just a few seconds to leave their kid a post-it note. Or better yet, stopped at the nearest neighbor’s house to ask them to wait up for the school bus, but nope. They had priorities and as the middle child I was rarely at the top of that list.” — NeedsMoreTuba

8. My teacher touched me inappropriately and my mother called me a liar

“When I told my mom that a teacher at school was doing inappropriate things to me she called me a liar. She told me that nobody would ever want to touch me. She also told me that if I tried to get him in trouble that when I went to court I would have to tell a room full of people what happened, and that even IF they believed me they would think that I was lying if I told them that I didn’t like it. I was 8 years old, and just told her that I was kidding because between the predator telling me that if I said anything my grandma would die and my mom scaring me into remaining quiet I believed I didn’t have a choice. The worst part is he continued his shit and wasn’t caught for another 8 years. Harming God knows how many more children.

As an adult this led to me having no concept of self. The only reason I had my first girlfriend is because she pursued me, and after I lost my virginity I found that the attention of a female made me feel really good, until I had an orgasm and then I was filled with guilt and shame. I learned when I started drinking around 18 that I could have that attention of a female while drinking and the guilt and shame was lessened because I was drunk. This brought on a 5 year span where I would get drunk every weekend and have as many sexual partners as possible just to feel good about myself for a while. At the time I didn’t realize this is why I was doing this, I just thought I liked to party.

When I was 22 I started dating a girl who I had been friends with for a few years. She had also been molested as a child and had similar feelings. After sex we would have a ritual of showering together and I learned to have some self esteem — this beautiful woman loved me and I deserved to be happy, and sex could be a healthy thing. We got married on our 4 year anniversary, and divorced 5 months later when she fell in love with one of our co-workers.

Things quickly devolved again and went back to more of the same. Finally I came to the conclusion of what I was doing and talked to a therapist, I met a nice lady and we have two kids now.

While I can reason all of the things I’ve said above are unhealthy, and while I’ve been capable of a healthy physical relationship in the past, I still don’t necessarily look at sex with her as enjoyable it’s something that I need to do now and then to maintain our relationship. This is incredibly sad because I love her, and I love our family. There’s a part of me that will always want to get drunk and have sweet sweet guilt free sex with someone so that I can feel wanted again, but some things are obviously more important.” — notgonnnatell

9. My mother tried to kill me multiple times

“Getting pulled out of a frozen pond at age three after falling through thin ice. My legs had collapsed under me and I was up to my chin in water before an older child came to the rescue.

It was also the first time I realized that my mother’s judgment was not to be trusted. She had ordered me onto the pond after I said I was afraid, then she wandered off without telling me that black ice is dangerous. For years afterward she would recount her version of the incident as if it were a happy-go-lucky adventure and end the tale by laughing in my face.

During grade school I found out from a book that people actually die from that sort of thing and I was furious, but kept quiet because of the stakes: she kept setting up other potentially fatal accidents in ways that would give her plausible deniability if I died. At age eleven Dad decided I was old enough that a judge would take my custody preference seriously and he filed for divorce.

The one good outcome is that upbringing makes a person clearheaded in emergencies. For example, a few years ago camping when there was a fire I had already grabbed two extinguishers and was sprinting toward the blaze while everyone else in our camp was wondering what to do.” — doublestitch

10. I saw a boy fall into a pot of burning hot oil

“Background: My father was a cop and before that he was an EMT. My mother was an ER nurse. They keep a first aid kit in the car that is nearly as comprehensive as would be found in an ambulance, minus drugs. They run to danger, not away.

When I was 8 years old, we went on vacation to a campground. We pull in and before we even check in, we suddenly hear a woman screaming hysterically. Her screams were almost overshadowed by the anguished screams of a child. My parents swing into action, they tell me to follow them with the “trauma bag” and book it toward the screaming. We get to the source of the screaming and it’s absolutely horrific. There was an injured boy, probably 8 or so as well. He had tripped and fallen into a cast iron pot that his parents were using to deep fry their lunch in. He was only wearing shorts. The oil had spilled all over him. His torso, his legs, his arms. I asked my mother why he had wax all over him. It was not wax. I realized after I asked that it was actually his skin sloughing off. My parents were the only medically trained people anywhere in the vicinity. The nearest hospital was a half hour away. The nearest ambulance was about twenty minutes away.

I don’t know how much saline and gauze they used on that boy. I know they ran out and the trauma duffel bag was much thinner afterward. They worked for what felt like hours, the boy screaming the entire time. I don’t know how he didn’t pass out. When the ambulance finally arrived, they complimented my parents, thanked them, and left. We have no idea what happened to the kid after that. We were out when the parents came back the next day to pack up their things, but they left a nice letter thanking us.

I stood by, watching the entire thing play out. I handed things to my parents when they asked for them. I still dream about that boy sometimes, watching while his skin slid off like a snake. I will never, ever, deep fry anything. I can’t even stand to see other people deep fry. I have a 5 year old daughter and I refuse to even cook anything while she’s awake or home.” — Smeggywulff

11. My mother kidnapped me and beat me

“When I was 3, my mom left me at a gas station because I was tired of living in a car with her and wanted to go live with my grandmother. She never came back.

When I was 4, my mom told me to wake her up for work. When I tried she screamed at me and wouldn’t get up. Eventually she woke up on her own and beat me with the buckle end of a belt for not getting her up on time.

When I was 5, my mom kidnapped me from my grandparents and took me out into the woods and beat me for leaving her.

When I was 6, my mom didn’t pick me up from school until way past dark. I was sitting on a bench in front of the school and didn’t know where to go because we lived in a car.

When I was 7, my mom made me go beg a landlord to let us move into a decrepit house for free because we didn’t have any money and had been living in a mustang hatchback for years.

From the time I was 8-14 I slept on a cot beside my grandparents bed with my wrist tied to my grandmothers wrist so that my mom couldn’t steal me in the night. During this time she set the house on fire, tried to break in and when my grandma held the door closed my mom got ahold of my grandmas hand and broke every finger on her left hand. She never got in.” — Smushybushy

12. I was mugged by thugs on the subway

“This is rather long so please bear with me here.

I was 13 years old in Brooklyn, NY. Just a week or two after my 13th birthday. A friend and I went to the movies about once a week. Normally we went to one of several movie theaters in his neighborhood. But there were times when the movie he wanted to see (he always picked the movie. I didnt care what he chose. I loved going to the movies regardless of what we went to see) wasn’t playing in his neighborhood. So we would sometimes go to a theater outside his neighborhood. This particular time we had to go way out to Manhattan to see the movie (I have long since forgotten the title). We took a train out to Manhattan, saw the movie and took the train home.

Because we lived in different neighborhoods, we had to get off at different stops. He got off his stop and I had to continue to the last stop so that I could catch a connecting train to take me home.

The subway car I was sitting in was completely empty. So was the car next to it (which was the first car of the train). After sitting there in the empty car, I do not know what possessed me, but I decided to move to another car instead of sitting there in the empty car.

I got up and moved into the next car where there were people. I decided to move even further to another car again, but some leather jacketed guy got in my path and told me that the other train cars were closed. I knew this guy was full of it, but I didnt want any trouble from him. So I just said “oh” and turned around and went back into the empty car I came from and took my old seat. That guy and his friends took my response as a sign of weakness and cowardice, which it was. I was a meek little 13 year old put upon abused kid with no confidence whatsoever.

I was sitting there in my seat when a metal dart landed on the floor at my feet. Followed by an angry, gruff voice yelling “PICK IT UP!!!! PICK IT UP!!!!”. I looked over to my right and that leather jacketed guy and his friends (around a half dozen or so) poured into the car and came straight at me.

His dart guy friend was one of the first to reach me as he ordered me to pick up the dart again. I did so and then he ordered me to hand it to him. I did. Then he proceeded to throw the dart directly into my legs over and over again. I screamed and cried. I put my hands over my legs in an effort to shield them, but then he ordered me to move my hands away or else. I did and he proceeded to throw his dart into my legs again as he stood over me.

My memory is a bit hazy as to how the rest progressed but I do recall them after the dart throwing they proceeded to use me as a punching bag. Fists flying into my face, chest, and stomach, not one of them at a time but several of them at the same time.

I managed to break free of these guys and made a run for the car door so that I could escape into the next car where there are people. But one of them was guarding the door. This guy was not taking part in my torture with his friends. He just stood at the door as lookout. I could sense that this guy had some compassion for me. That he felt some sort of guilt about what was going on. Which was why he wasnt taking part that i can recall. But as I reached the door, he still prevented my escape. I yelled, I screamed, I cried, I begged him to let me go. But he wouldn’t. He threw me back to his friends. That guy, keeping me trapped in that car with his friends that very second, was the worst feeling ever.

Somewhere along the line I found myself on my knees on the floor of the subway car. I reached into my pocket and pulled out all the money I had on me at the time. All the money i had in the world. A single dime. I held it out to them in the palm of my hand above my head and yelled at them that was all I had. Please take it and leave me alone. I felt a leather gloved hand press into my palm and take the dime. But they still werent finished with me.

One of them got the bright idea that he wanted to see my head go crashing through one of the windows of the subway car. So they grabbed me, and actually started to ram me head first into the glass of one of the windows. Fortunately subway car windows are strong and shatterproof. They had to be due to all the vibrations it takes from a moving train. I cant recall how many times they rammed my head into the glass. Somewhere from a half dozen to a dozen before they gave up.

Just before we reached the last stop I was on my feet. I opened my mouth to say something (cant recall what it was), and accidentally a little spittle came flying out of my mouth and landed on the leather glove of one of my attackers which earned me a slap in the face.

Finally we reached the last stop. The doors opened and they ran out of the car except for one guy who I assume was their leader. The same guy who at the beginning got in my path and told me the other train cars were closed. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet and asked me if I needed a couple of bucks. I couldnt believe it. I didnt want anything from him. I refused his offer and he put his wallet back and walked off the train.

I went to the front car to report to the conductor that I was attacked. I banged on the door. But there was no one there. I walked off the train onto the platform. I changed platforms. I saw a couple of cops with their backs to me. They were exiting the platform by going down the stairs. I called out to them but they didnt hear me. I was too weak from the beatings to go run after them. They disappeared out of my sight. It was just as well. I never memorized my attackers faces as I tried not to make eye contact with them throughout the entire ordeal. I had forgotten what they looked like within seconds of them leaving the train. I would never be able to give an exact, positive description. And I never knew their names, nor they mine.

Defeated, I caught my connecting train. This time finding and staying in a car that was reasonably filled with normal looking people. Second I got home, I flopped into bed to go to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, my body ached all over.

I imagine my attackers, if they’re still alive today, are somewhere in their 50s (at the time of their attack on me, they were all a few years older than me. I estimate late teens to early 20s). Some of them no doubt have families of their own today. Wives, grown kids, homes, good jobs, etc.

But I’ll also bet they keep it a secret from everyone in their inner circles (employers, co workers, friends, family), about the time how they mugged and physically assaulted some young kid, a total stranger, for kicks on a subway train way back when. Their friends and families, wives and kids, probably look up to them, thinking theyre the greatest, not knowing what lowlifes they really are and were.

My life at the time and the many years following were terrible and painful for many reasons. Granted theyre not to blame for the entire terrible state that was and is my rotten life. To be fair, had i never encountered them, my whole life would still be terrible. But they sure did contribute to the lousy horibleness that is my life. I have never forgotten or forgiven them for the torture they inflicted on me both physically and mentally. I hope they all burn in hell.” — WallyPlumstead

13. My classmates wished I would die from my disease

“When I was a kid, I got sick. It was one of those one-in-a-million disorders that required months of hospitalization to diagnose. As I was being bullied in school at the time, I actually enjoyed the hospitalization – I got to do my work in peace, chill out all day and read books, all for the low, low price of having my blood taken and getting run through the MRI tube. No one bothered me. I was alone.

About halfway through my stay in the “what the fuck” ward, I got a bag full of get-well cards from my school. It was obvious that the teacher made the class do it as an exercise and didn’t supervise. Maybe two of those cards were legitimate well-wishes… the rest was abuse. I had thirty lovingly hand-made cards, all telling me how no one missed me, how everything was better with me gone, and how they hoped I’d die so that they would never have to see me again.

I hid the cards under my mattress and pretended they didn’t exist, but that was the first time I remember thinking: Maybe they’re right. Maybe the world is better off with me out of it.” — mus_maximus

14. I was raped in my sleep

“As a child waking up to being raped. This happened multiple times.” — Darksecrets57

15. My uncle killed himself on Valentine’s Day

“My uncle committing suicide on Valentine’s Day when I was eleven. It was the first time someone I was close to died and he did not choose a quick way to go. My dad was an EMT back then and when my grandmother, who had assisted my uncle in the suicide, called him, it was my dad that kept him breathing until the first responders could actually get there. Then he had to turn off the life support machine himself because his parents couldn’t bring themselves to do it. Seeing my dad so messed up and dealing with death at that age caused me to become extremely morbid and obsessed with death for a very long time. Attempted it myself when I was thirteen (for reasons not totally related). Further messed up the the both of us. Obviously, I still haven’t gotten over it even though it was 16 years ago.” — unicorngirl88

16. I was pushed down a rocky waterfall

“You know that thing kids do where they push you before grabbing you and then say they saved your life? Well some kid did this to me when I was standing at the top of a waterfall during a hiking trip at a summer camp when I was young. He didn’t manage to get a good hold on me and I tumbled over the side but managed to grab hold of some rocks, preventing me from falling I’m not even sure how far down onto some jagged rocks. One of the camp leaders pulled me back up and the kid was sent home for the summer but I’ve been terrified of heights since and absolutely do no trust anyone to stand within ten feet of me near a ledge of any sort. Even people I completely trust otherwise can’t come anywhere near me if I’m at a ledge, I will scream and lay down flat to try and prevent the chance of someone pushing me/accidentally bumping me.” — Amecha

17. My mother had her teeth knocked out

“My earliest memory is my mom getting her teeth knocked out by her ex boyfriend. I was about 4. I remember sitting in the back of the car holding her two teeth in a cup a milk on the way to the hospital, and sitting outside the room while they shoved them back in her mouth. I could hear her scream. It just makes me really sad.” — daenarys_t_1993

18. My father slaughtered helpless animals in front of me

“My father thought it was a good idea to have me watch him slaughter our pigs when I was 7 so I would know where food came from. It turned me into a vegetarian instead. It was freaking horrible. He didn’t use a big enough gun, and it took several shots per pig. Nice one dad.” — gingerjuice

19. I found my father’s dead body

“Don’t know if 17 counts as a kid still, but waking up to find my dad dead on the floor was pretty shitty.” — Sbbike

20. I tried to kill myself after being raped

“When I was 12, I told my mom I wanted to kill myself and she laughed at me. Little did she know that I had been raped and actually did try to kill myself that night. I’ll never forget how worthless she made me feel.” — lostatchildhood

21. My grandmother shredded her fingers

“I was about 7 years old and remember vividly it was a rainy day so my grandma was making soup. She was cleaning the inside of a blender and by accident she didn’t unplug it. You can guess were this is going. She was talking to my mom and by accident she turned on the blender and shredded her fingers.” — onefiftynineam

22. My father threatened to burn the house to the ground

“Hearing my father give my mother a life altering beating, and seeing her the next morning. Age 7

6 months later sitting terrified on a couch for a week under threat of me and my whole family being burned to death in our home.

Many similarly disturbing events through childhood but those two were pretty formative.” — Smorgasbjorks

23. I was thrown in a psych ward

“Being strip searched as part of the process for a psychiatric ward admittance.” — Bad_idea_babe

24. I went blind from bee stings

“When I was 5 or 6 my mom and I were walking down the creek bed near our house in California. It was the middle of summer so it was dried out. My mom saw a hornets nest and walked past it first, wanting to make sure it was safe for me. Well, they attacked, and my mom dropped her glasses. I ran after her trying to grab them and got stung multiple times, quite painfully, mostly on the face. The next half hour was my mom, basically blind, walking the half mile back to the house with a crying five year old on her back trying to navigate.

Now if I even hear buzzing I start panicking, and have had full on panic attacks when a wasp or hornet is in the same room as me.” — [deleted]

25. I watched a woman crack her skull open

“Saw a lady at the airport pass out on the escalator and fall backwards cracking her head open on one of the steps. Needless to say I have been terrified of escalators ever since.” –Moklov Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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

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