Trauma chart

Last week, my therapist had me work on a chart trying to sort out the impact of trauma in my life. It asks about a traumatic event during childhood, adolescence and adulthood. You then describe the event, life before the event, life after the event and the overall impact of the event.

Because nothing really terrible has happened to me as an adult, I decided to focus on childhood and adolescence. For each age range, I picked one specific class of event because it was too difficult to focus on specific events. That’s a project for the future.

It was quite difficult to do the chart. It was hard to find the words to describe the impact. I focused mainly on behaviors rather than emotions.

So the event class I picked for childhood was being molested in the shower. I wrote about it previously. But the basic sequence of events was my father would give me a shower because I had a hard time washing my hair. While in the shower, he would fondle me and would penetrate me with his fingers. On more than one occasion, he stripped and joined me in the shower.

I have so few memories of growing up and he started showering me like that when I was about 4 or 5. So describing life before the event is nearly impossible. I think my mother gave me a bath. But I don’t really remember.

I got my hair cut when I was 10 and then my father stopped showering me, but life really didn’t change all that much. The abuse continued in my bedroom as before. I hated my life. I had suicidal thoughts. I was still withdrawn.

The eventual impact was a general fear and avoidance of the shower. Even taking a bath is difficult as it’s still the same location. I really hate having my hair washed by anyone. I do it myself before getting a hair cut. In general, I really hate anyone touching my head.


The event class I chose for adolescence was my relationship with James. As I wrote before, he was my boyfriend in high school. He was physically and emotionally abusive and he raped me more times than I care to remember. Before that relationship, I wanted to have a long term relationship. Marriage and kids were still viable options for the future. My trust in men hadn’t been totally shattered.

After the relationship ended, I didn’t rebound emotionally. I was still depressed, and the depression deepened. I had done small things to hurt myself in the past, but I started hitting myself to the point of causing bruises.

The biggest impact of being in that relationship is the loss of hope for ever having any sort of meaningful intimate relationship. For me, men are people to be feared (as irrational as that may be). I hate being a woman. I hate my sexuality. I do my best to repress it.


Note: If anyone is interested, I scanned the original chart to .pdf. Email me or leave a comment if you’re interested in it. The image above was made using Nvu. However, didn’t want to play nice with a table so I just took a screen shot and cropped it.

7 thoughts on “Trauma chart

  1. The chart looks like a good idea. I hope you and your therapist will be able to make good use of it.

    And, ugh… I’m so sorry about what happened to you…

    And I’m glad you’re still around.

  2. nadcesca says:

    So sorry about what you have been through. You (and no one else either) should have to go on living a nightmare like yours growing up. But the trauma chart seems a good idea. Hope some good will come out of it! take care.

  3. MayPoles of life says:

    Kathryn, when I read things like this, I feel helpless. I want more than anything to be able to erase your memories. I know you are working so hard. I will tell you, I’m so very, very happy you are still here. I’m so glad you can share of yourself. I find that, and you incredible.

  4. katm says:

    Thank you both.

    The chart did help some. I think analytically, so this was a way to analyze what happened. It helped to not get as emotionally involved when thinking about this stuff.

  5. Thank you for your kind words. There are times when i do wish I could erase all of those memories. But I try to hang onto the thought that maybe I’m helping someone by writing about this and sharing my therapy experiences.

  6. I without a doubt would like to have this chart.
    It seems our therapists are very much in the same frame of mind when having us do assignments like this. I’m doing a time line but I’m having difficulty with organizing it. something like this might be helpful.

    The shower use to be difficult for me but the restroom itself is still hard, using the restroom is still hard but showering is not.
    I do not use the restroom in a place that doesn’t have a lock on the door. At home, alone, I lock the restroom door. This stuff stays with us until we heal it to a point where it lets us lead a life without such restrictions that we don’t want to shower or that we would rather hold “it” until we just have to go or wet our pants.


  7. Check your email Austin.

    I’m working through a PTSD workbook and they talk about doing a time line in there. It’s something I’ve been kind of afraid to do. I don’t know why.

    But you’re right. This chart might help in doing that.

    Working on the shower has been one of the biggest challenges, but has been yielding rewards. I still hate showering and if I stay in there longer than 2 or 3 minutes I start panicking. But it’s not immediate anymore. So although the progress is small, it’s there.

    Hmmm… I guess this should really be a blog entry of its own.

    ::adds it to my to-do list::

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