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THE LIVING, a blog post for Child USA

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

In “The Psychic Space in Trauma,” researcher Norma Tracey beautifully defines trauma as a “psychic wound caused by a violent intrusion.” “An excess of psychic pain floods the ego,” she continues, “[…] [that] becomes unbearable and there is fear of fragmentation and death. …unthinkable fear, so there is no thinking, and hence no symbolization. The experience of negative feelings is greater than that of positive ones, causing …denial and regression. What is left is a non- living space, where knowing would be if it could be known, where thought would be if it could be thought.”

Anyone who has experienced sexual trauma feels, acutely, what this explanation so perfectly expresses. Though there are many other theories on the ways that assault affects mind and body, those of us who have experienced intrusion understand the truths of fragmentation, denial, regression, and a “non-living” space. One does not need to be a therapist, scientist, or medical professional to comprehend these feelings nor to recognize a victim’s need to symbolize the void and give shape to experience and pain.

When I was eight years old, I was molested by a baby-sitter, but I didn’t remember this experience until my early thirties while married to a violent partner. When the memories came, I suddenly had vivid images and explanations for an absence or void—a feeling that something was missing in my memory for which I felt shame—that had haunted my psyche since that first intrusive experience. Sadly, however, as soon as the memories came, they had to be set aside to survive a situation of domestic violence until about six years later when I finally got out and began a graduate program in English at a local university....

Read the rest of my story on the Child USA website HERE.


CHILD USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank that conducts evidence-based legal, medical, and social science research to identify laws and policies affecting child protection. With these facts, CHILD USA shines a light on the better pathways to truly protect kids from abuse and prevent neglect.


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