When we think about our childhoods, we typically think about all of the good memories - riding bikes, climbing trees, slumber parties, and more - but behind bit of nostalgia rests some of our most traumatizing experiences. And when those memories reveal themselves, it's hard to tuck them away.
A Reddit thread recently asked people to share the most disturbing thing that happened to them during their childhood. By the look of things, it seems like some of these people still haven't gotten over these horrible memories. Take a look at some of the most traumatizing stories. All posts have been edited for clarity
"I was almost kidnapped in a foreign country when I was a kid.
I was out with my aunt and cousins in Korea, and I ended up getting into an argument with one of my cousins. My aunt kind of smacked me a few times and left me in the middle of this pavilion of some historical site by myself because of it.
After my cousins and my aunt left me, a man on a bike came up and started pitying me and empathizing with me. He told me to follow him and he would help me. Of course, I was like 11 in a foreign country and was like, 'I'm not going anywhere, I'm staying right here.' After a few minutes of him trying to get me to follow him, a policeman showed up and the guy dipped.
Looking back, a few years later, I realized that guy may have had some unkind intentions."
"I held my own intestines when I was 8.
It was around October time, I was hanging out with some kids after school, and as a young quasi-chimp, I spent most of my time climbing trees and foraging for chestnuts.
Our choice collection spot was one particularly fruitful tree based by a Girl's Scouts Hall, accessible by the spiked railing surrounding the hall. Think a black cylindrical rod about seven inches long that gradually got more pointed before finishing in a relatively dull but puncturing spike. It was like a fat skewer.
As the veteran climber, I often assisted kids in climbing up the tree; there was one particular branch you had to use to get up and down and one of the heavier kids was having trouble climbing it. I was up the tree at this point, as he finally heaved himself up, I distinctly remember hearing the branch creak a bit. I gave it a second's thought then summarized that it was probably nothing. Big mistake.
With my pockets fat full of chestnuts, I stepped on the key branch and it snapped, I was shish-kebabed. I blacked out then remember hearing someone scream my name as I came to.
I went into autopilot and heaved myself off the railing, I landed on my feet and remember looking down and seeing a huge bulge under my jumper and the uncomfortably wet feeling of meat against fleece. I lifted my jumper up to inspect which revealed that all of my intestines were indeed outside of my body. They didn't spool to the floor like some unkempt pile of noodles, they were bound and compact, like a meaty pink basketball.
The sound of my scream as I fell and my friend shouting made a man stop his car by the railing. I trudged along and threw myself at the fence and groaned out a, 'Help... me...' to him, I remember the look on his face, I'd scared the living crap out of him. I eventually stumbled out through a gap and some heroic mum near the area tackled me to the floor and held me down until the ambulances could arrive.
I was seemingly oblivious to the full implications of what was happening, I was curious more than anything about how my intestines looked than anything and how it felt against my jumper."
"I was going to take the train to the Giants game about 10 years ago and while I walked up, a homeless lady sitting at a metal bench seating area with a cage in front of it stood up, screamed, had a seizure and fell forward, hitting the top of her head hard. She seized on the ground with her head sticking out from under the train, but her body was sill inside.
The pool of blood you see in the movies is a real thing, but this had foam and whatever else from seizing. It was terrifying and disgusting. My cousin called the cops for an ambulance, and at that exact time, my mom, who dropped us off, called me saying I left the tickets in the car. I told her what happened and I swear to God it had to be my mom, anyone and I mean anyone else couldn’t get me to do this. But she asked, 'Who is helping her?'
I said the ambulance was on the way. And she said, 'What if that was me, she is scared and hurt. You get over to her and help her,' and hung up.
I walked up to this dark enclosed area with her, and just as I walked up, there was a lady I didn’t notice walking out who obviously tried to comfort her. She was pale, had dazed eyes, and just booked it past me. This lady's head was open... and there was blood and foam all over her face and her eyes... wide open... just crazy looking. And the smell.... I just heard my mom though, into my soul.
I went in and told her she was hurt but it’s okay, she needed to sit down. I padded her back and just kept saying, 'You hear those sirens, that’s the ambulance, they are going to help you and it’s going to be okay.'"
"I was violated by one of my uncles after being tortured and bullied by him during my summer stay with my grandparents when I was 7 years old. I remember telling my grandma what happened but instead of helping out, she swept it under the rug. I had to stay there for another week.
He recently died, which brought back a lot of the memories, and I brought it up to my mom, and my grandma told her, but they both thought it was best to not tell anyone else in the family because family pride and 'boys can't be assaulted' and 'he wouldn't do that, don't make that up.'
I don't really speak to my family anymore because of this."
"My mom and I were in McDonald's and we were only there because I practically begged her to get me a cheeseburger. We were sitting down with our one cheeseburger when my mom's face went pale. I was trying to talk to her and she just kept cutting off mid-sentence or saying, 'Shhh.' I'd never seen her look so aghast, and every time I asked her if she was ok, she would just say, 'Yeah' and trail off again. It was very strange that she wouldn't tell me what was wrong, she's always been very open. She kept looking over my shoulder.
At some point, she said, 'Wait here, I'm going to go outside and I'll be back.' There was a lady who always oversaw the kid's parties in McDonald's that my mom liked, so she asked her to watch me for a couple minutes.
For some reason, I was not eating the cheeseburger. I remember picking off the cheese that was stuck to the packaging while I waited for my mom to come back. She took ages, maybe half an hour. When she came back, she was visibly relived, though still shaken. She explained: she recognized the guy sitting behind us as a creep from her job. She works as a probation officer. He was sitting with a young girl and saying things like, 'OK, we'll order something else, then we'll go and eat it at home, yeah? We don't want to stay at nasty McDonalds so let's go home where I have lots of toys.'
The girl was saying stuff like, 'I want to go back now,' and 'I want to see mummy.' My mom obviously twigged what was going on, and when they left, she knew she had to go and call the police, and she followed them until the police caught up with them.
It worked out in the end, but I've never seen her looking so disturbed like that, it shook me good."
"I had a paper delivery job. I got to one house and two men were fighting/arguing outside. The door was open and a woman came to the door gave an awkward smile and took the paper from me.
The next day, I went to collect my papers and the owner of the shop said, ‘You might not be able to deliver that one, as that is where it happened.' I looked on the front page of the paper and it was reporting a murder at that house.
Obviously, I told my parents what I saw so they took me straight to the police station as a possible witness. Turns out what had actually happened is the husband had come home and found his wife dead. The police got there and the man had gone a bit crazy at what he had found and was fighting the police officer. The police officer explained this and I remember telling my dad I recognized the police man as the one in the street.
What I had witnessed was the man fighting the police and the female who took the paper off me was actually a female police officer not the wife. So what I had witnessed was effectively innocent but the whole thing was still quite disturbing for my young mind. Especially as I realized I was seeing the husband's raw grief and the fact the murdered wife was still in the house when I got there.
Anyway, it turned out it was a neighbor who had murdered the wife after becoming infatuated with her. She didn’t even know the neighbor."
"I had moved from Minnesota to Massachusetts when I was 6. New blended family. My step-siblings had gone off riding their bikes around the neighborhood while I stayed with my mom and new step-dad. Dinner time rolled around and they told me to hop on my bike and go get the other kids for dinner.
I was supposed to just go around the block, but when I couldn’t find them, I ventured out. Well, I was 6 and this was a new city. I ended up getting lost. It felt like I was miles away from home, but in reality, I was about one mile away from home. I remember a man pulling up next to me and he said, 'I know your dad, I can bring you home.'
Funny because I didn’t even know my dad.
I listened to my instincts and declined the offer. Thank the good lord. Still wonder what would have happened.
A few moments later, another gentleman pulled up next to me and told me the police station was just up the road and offered to let me follow his vehicle on my bicycle. I did and was brought home safely by the police.
But OH MAN!! How terribly wrong that could’ve gone. I now have a 7-year-old daughter and these things haunt me."
"I was 13 sleeping over at my best friend's house on New Year's Eve. My friend's parents had a few couples over, and one of the husbands in the group kept coming upstairs and sneaking us drinks. He was persistent and we had never drank before so we just thought it was cool.
Once we fell asleep, I woke up in my sleeping bag on my friend's floor in his room, with the man laying next to me rubbing my leg and asking me really sick questions. I got up and tried to go downstairs. This happened a few more times once I fell back asleep before I went downstairs and told my friend's mom I wanted to ride my bike home. I didn't tell her why, so she just told me not to be ridiculous and to go back to sleep because it was like 1 am and my mom would be really upset with her if she let me go home that late.
The next day, I told my friend about it and once he believed me, he made jokes about it and actually still says some of the creepy stuff the guy said to freak me out.
Years later in high school, my friend's mom told him that the couple were getting a divorce because that creep's wife caught him cheating with a man and he ended up being HIV positive. My friend told his mom at that point what happened and when I saw her later that afternoon after school, she was crying and and felt so guilty that she didn't know and that she made me go back upstairs. She wished I would have told her and her husband because my friend's dad would have probably killed him. Knowing him and what a great guy he was, I have no doubt he would have done just that.
My friend's dad tried to find him at that point but he moved quickly and eventually died of AIDS."
"I was a teenager, waiting for the bus to go to school. This particular morning felt very strange, the fog was thick, there was no sunlight, just a feeling of a floating gray limbo between worlds. The street was uncommonly silent for this time, there were no cars. I waited 10 minutes and no one even walked by. Something was not right.
I tried to peer down the road, but I couldn’t see anything because of the fog. So I thought, 'Well, I might as well start walking.' After five minutes, I noticed distant police lights, like a beacon calling me, but no sirens. As I came closer to the intersection, there were squad cars in the middle of the street and police tape. No cars were allowed to come through for about a half mile either side.
In the center of the street was a man’s body, face down. I stopped on the sidewalk and just stared. Everything was silent. The police just stood there. About 20 feet away was a car that had its entire front wrapped around a street pole.
I visualized what must have happened, and the velocity that this man’s body must have been traveling to crash head first through his windshield, fly through the air, and land in the middle of the street. The dense fog made me feel like a ghost. I never forgot the feeling of awe, horror, heartbreak, and that strange heaviness in the air that gathered around this lone dead human."
"When I was young, my grandfather had an aneurysm in the middle of the night which caused him to fall in our white ceramic tile bathroom. I ran and told my dad, who immediately called 911.
I guess in the panic with the ambulance and my parents rushing to be with him, I ended up being left behind. As I walked from the front door through the house, I noticed little blood stains in the carpet. I went to the bathroom and opened the door. I still don't know why I did, other than curiosity. The bathroom was covered in blood and possibly brain matter.
I still have happy memories of my grandfather, but the sight of the bathroom is always the first thought that goes through my mind. I never told my parents I saw anything and they hired a cleaning service to come clean it. I have not used that bathroom to this day and never will."
"When I was around 8 or 9, there was a creepy middle-aged dude who lived on the same floor as me in my building. I used to come home from school in a bus, usually with a friend named Kaleb who was a grade higher and lived on the floor below me. The front entrance of the building had two elevators and a staircase in the middle that would take you to the mezzanine floor.
Kaleb and I used to take the lift together, so maybe I never noticed if this ever happened when he was there, but one day, he was sick with chicken pox and stayed home. I came back alone and noticed this creepy guy sitting on the stairs in the middle of the building. As soon as I entered the building, he got up, pressed the lift button before me, and sat down again. He had lived in the same building for a while so I didn't think much of it. He rode the lift with me; again, I did not think much of it cause I knew he lived on the same floor.
This happened for a few days. I had started to just catch on, thinking something was off. So this time, I looked at him with suspicious eyes. He started to make conversation.
'Hey, did you know I have two cones?'
I didn't think there was anything wrong with that question, but I was confused. I replied with 'Oh?'
What happened next creeped me out. He looked down, unzipped his pants, and shifted a layer of skin on his junk. I didn't know what to even think. I wasn't scared, just really weirded out. As soon as the lift opened, I got out of that lift fast and ran back home.
Next day, I saw him waiting again. I had had enough. As he got up from the stairs to press the button, I started climbing the stairs. He tried to call me to tell me that the lift was there, and I could use it, but I climbed all the way up to my floor that day.
I later found out he was a child predator and had done many other weird things."
"I was in the car going to the store with my grandma when I was probably 10 or 11 years old. We were going along and the car in front of us swerved sharply to the left, then right again, before it completely lost control and ended in the ditch.
In front of us was a man who had been knocked off his bike, and his legs had been run over. My grandma threw the car into park and ran to the man, whose leg was spraying dark as tar blood. The man driving the car rushed over as well, and it looked like my grandma asked for his belt. He whipped it off, and she slipped it up his leg, calf and foot virtually hamburger, and pulled it. Every bit of her weight and strength was used pulling that belt tight. She directed the man to stand on the belt, and she ran across the street presumably to call the ambulance. I remember the guy from the car with his hands on his neck and face being so pale, he looked like an alien.
The ambulance came and my grandma got a card from the police department for a later statement if needed. She got in the car, covered in blood, and said to me, 'I think that man is going to live,' and a tear ran down her cheek and plopped on her shirt.
We skipped the store and she took us home instead. Life was normal. I have no idea if the man lived or not.
Thirty years later, I can still smell that blood and how her fingers stuck to the steering wheel from it."
"I have a memory from when I was about 6. At the time, my parents and I lived in a pretty quiet neighborhood, though there was this one older woman who presumably lived alone, and she was the stereotypical 'crazy' woman of the block. This woman lived a few doors down from our house. She was the type of person you just needed to stay away from; I recall her yelling angry things at me once when I was walking by with my babysitter, but I don't remember any specifics from that time. She had a nasty demeanor, and was overall just an angry, sad person.
I was watching TV with my mom one night in the living room when we heard some commotion outside. Eventually, I was able to make out the noise as someone screaming. It was a raspy, but apparent call for help - and it was only getting louder. My mom told me to stay put while she took a peek outside. Of course, I didn't listen and ran over to a window myself to see what was going on. Across the street lived a grandma-type lady. She and the crazy lady were out on her front lawn, and the crazy lady was beating her with some sort of gardening tool - like a rake or shovel. The screaming was coming from the grandma. She was on the ground trying to get away, while the crazy lady was mercilessly beating her over and over. I remember the stick part of whatever she was holding hitting the poor woman on her back, her head, her legs - over and over again. My mom and I assume several other neighbors called the cops, but I don't remember if anyone physically intervened. Soon there were a couple of ambulances and multiple cop cars completely covering our entire block.
I'm not sure what ever happened to the grandma, but know I never did see the crazy lady ever again."
"I experienced weekly abuse by family member and suffered extreme bullying at school for being from a poor family. I saw remains of my uncle who had committed suicide in his car. I was preyed on by adults all the way through my teenage years because my pathetic excuse of a father told them I was gay. I wasn't.
I suffered from great poverty and often went without food while my parents were away. I had to bring up and protect three younger siblings from the abuse I had to take.
But above all of this, by far the worst was the mental abuse and bullying and feelings of worthlessness that I still have in my 40s, from mainly my father but also my mother, too. Add to this that I no longer speak to any of my siblings, because they were too young to remember most of it, and see me as the bad person because I had to leave and escape.
I lost my childhood, I lost my family, and because of the above, I lost the love of my life because I just never felt worthy of her. I've endured a miserable life, although people would think I'm successful in my work.
But I'd swap everything to have had just one year maybe of a normal childhood.
I'll carry this all with me until I'm dead, I'm sure, but I try to make the best of things, and only my closest friends know."
"I was in the fifth grade and my sister was in the second.
In our elementary school, the fifth graders ate lunch during second grade's recess. I remember watching my sister playing tetherball/tag on the blacktop and me watching her. She was running around and ran straight into a unused tetherball pole. As a big brother, I KNEW it was a bad hit. I sprinted to my sister as she was crying on the ground and blood was covering her face. I was screaming for a yard duty to come help. I was screaming it over and over and over again but no one was coming. I started to cry and scream before finally someone came to help us. She used her radio and said, 'Maggie, we have a big one coming in.'
I was ushered back to class as my parents were called. It was the worst thing ever.
My sister had a huge gash that went DEEP into her forehead. She hit her head on a metal link on that pole. She was fine and had no issues from it. She is now a nurse who helped someone who had a similar issue recently.
I also worked at a elementary school as a yard duty worker for a year while in college. My first day there, no joke this kid hits his head and is bleeding and I was QUICK to help. Knowing what a yard duty knows, me screaming as a kid for help for a minute should have never had happened."