01 Mar Childhood trauma – Olivia and Oprah
How do Adverse Childhood Experiences (aka trauma) impact a person?
Let’s use identical twins separated at birth as an example – same genes, different lives. Olivia and Oprah were put up for adoption at birth. Olivia was adopted into a loving family. Oprah was not adopted initially and was sent into foster care.
Olivia’s parents met her needs, physically and emotionally. When she cried, they soothed her. When she was hungry, she was fed. She felt a strong connection to her parents and continued to build strong connections in her life. The family had some challenges in that they moved twice and they lost 2 beloved pets, but due to their strong bonds and support, Olivia managed both the transitions and the losses well. When Olivia was fifteen her father was killed in an automobile accident. That summer, Olivia was sent to an amazing summer camp where only children who have lost a parent or sibling go.
Oprah was finally adopted when she was three. Having siblings and parents seemed better than being left in foster care initially but her new parents weren’t very warm. In fact, they were abusive. Oprah was treated like she was a servant. She was allowed food only after she had prepared it for the family. If they didn’t like it, they made her eat dog food instead, telling her that’s how good her cooking was. Her father called her horrible names and her siblings liked to beat up on her. When Oprah was fifteen her mother was killed by a stray bullet from a gang-related incident. That summer, through a charitable organization, Oprah was sent to the same camp as Olivia.
Olivia loved the camp. She appreciated being surrounded by well-meaning counselors and fellow campers who shared her grief. She felt free to talk about her situation since everyone there could relate to it. In contrast, Oprah hated everyone at the camp and wanted to do nothing but be by herself. She wouldn’t talk to others and was caught several times stealing.
What made their camp experiences so different? Read on to find out.
Do you relate more to Oprah or Olivia? Name one way how you do.