People Reveal Horrific Things They Witnessed As Children But Didn’t Understand Until Adulthood
When we were children, we saw the world differently. Our brains weren’t fully developed, so we couldn’t accurately process certain situations. It’s only once we get older that we learn how to better interpret the world and our surroundings. As that happens, sometimes old memories from childhood begin to resurface. As adults, we realize that certain experiences were entirely different than the way we initially perceived them in our young minds. These people came forward to share their stories about the horrific things they once witnessed as children and didn’t understand until later in life.
#1 Grandma Running Over Dad
My grandmother tried to run my dad over with the family car because we were late to an event and he refused to get on the highway without pumping air in the tires. I remember her sliding over from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat and putting the car in drive. The engine was running because it was winter and my mom, grandma, and I were trying to stay warm. My grandma was livid because we were so late, and his safety concerns seemed dumb to her. I remember the car lurching forward and my father jumping back with a terrified look on his face. My grandmother denies is to this day, but mom and I remember.
#2 Unprepared For A Plane Crash
I was with my dad at an airshow in Toronto, back in the ’90s. We watched this big plane go up and do a maneuver, and then go into a dive, going nose-first into the lake with a massive splash. My dad was a photographer and had managed to capture the seconds before and after impact, and told me we had to go right away (he booked it to the newspaper with the film roll to get it developed). I said I wanted to watch the rest of the show because I thought it had just dropped a bomb and flown off. I didn’t realize that I had just witnessed seven people leave this world.
#3 Left In The Car
My grandma told me we should leave my two-year-old sister in the car because she was sleeping. I was four, so that made perfect sense to me. She didn’t roll down the windows, and it was hot outside. My sister remembers waking up and panicking because she was suffocating in the heat. She didn’t die, but man, that was a really stupid thing for my grandma to do.
#4 Frightening Situations From Dad
I’ve seen my father get arrested so many times in my homes. There were times the police busted through my door, flipping everything upside down. I never understood it. One day when I was about 13, I had my best friend over for a sleepover and he found my father’s secret stash in the rafters of the basement (where my room was).
It may not seem too horrible, but the amount of transients and just overall sketchy people my father had over our house is something I would NEVER do to my own family. It’s plain horrible to put your kids in predicaments such as those, and this went on my entire childhood. I mean, he had criminals living in our house at times.
That being said, I never looked at my childhood as a horrible one. It was all I knew. But once I became an adult, I found out this wasn’t necessarily normal. All the secrets started coming out and it wasn’t as innocent as I thought it was.
#5 Playing For Mom’s Pills
When my sister and I were kids (about six or seven years old) my dad would have us play a “game” while my mother was in the hospital. He would have us look for prescription bottles, and whoever found the most won. We had no idea what was going on or why my mother was ALWAYS sick and in the hospital. We just knew that was the way things always were. She passed away when I was nine years old.
Fast forward to when I was 17. I was experiencing a really bad part of my life and came home crying to my dad. He eventually told me that he understood how I was feeling and told me that my mother was making herself sick. At that moment, I remembered the long-lost memory of the “game” we played as kids and what it really was.
#6 An Incredibly Bad Babysitter
When we were really young (around five or six) our babysitter would get her hair and nails done and just lock us in the car for two to three hours. This would happen a couple of times a month. We had no toys or anything to keep us busy, so my brother and I would pretend our finger figures were superheroes and make them fight to pass the time. I’m not sure what happened to her.
#7 Oblivious About Being Homeless
When I was 11, my mom and I left my dad and we were homeless. I did not realize we were homeless until I was 20. I just thought we were on some kind of excursion. We were always sleeping in the car and at friends’ houses for a while. I just had so much trust for my mother I was never once startled by the situation.
My mother is also very creative: “Wow, I found these flavored tuna pouches, wouldn’t it be cool if we acted like cats,” or “I bet you can’t brush your teeth with only a water bottle,” and other classics. About two years later, we did find a very nice house and adopted four kittens. She gets to retire in three years. She’s my everything.
#8 Mom’s Mysterious Friend
We went on a family trip to Washington D.C. when I was eight. For half a day, this random lady came with me and my family to all the museums. She was really nice and friendly. I thought she was an old friend of my mom’s or something. Years later, I found out that the woman was being threatened in public by her boyfriend and my mom stepped in to rescue her.
She made her come with us, called the cops, talked her out of the relationship and set her up with a safe house. My mom grew up in an abusive home and knew the signs when she saw them. We don’t know what happened to that woman but I like to think that my mom helped save her. I now look for subtle signs of abuse and will always step if I see someone uncomfortable in public.
#9 Dead Man in the Field
When I was little, a friend and I found a man sleeping in the bushes at our sports field. We thought it was just some random homeless guy. We told everyone on the field and showed some of them the sleeping man. My uncle, who works for the police, also came with us when we asked him. A few minutes later, the game that was going on in the field was canceled and the place where the man was was swamped with police. I thought they came to wake the man up. I found out a few years later that he was lifeless. I believe there was evidence of foul play, according to investigative reports.
#10 Close To Being Hijacked
My dad was driving us to school and stopped at the mechanic’s shop on the way to check on my stepmom’s car. He parked parallel to the front of the garage so he could easily go straight back onto our route. As he expected to be in and out, he left the car running. After about 30 seconds, a man walked up to the car, got in, and tried to put it in gear.
My sister and I assumed he was a worker trying to move us out of the way of the garage. He said, “Buckle up,” in a way that still gives me chills to this day. The car stalled as he put it into gear. My dad sprinted out of the shop with a couple of other men, opened the door of the car, hauled the guy out, and wrestled him to the ground. I went to school that day and didn’t really think about it until years later. I was about to be kidnapped.
#11 The Traumatizing Train Track Tale
When I was about six, my mom was driving me and some kids home from a day at the beach. As we crossed a bridge, there was an old man standing on the side of the road. My mom looked in the rearview mirror after we passed him and noticed he was gone. This was before cell phones, so she pulled over and started flagging down cars.
Thankfully, one of the first cars she flagged down had a CB radio and called an ambulance. Meanwhile, my friends and I were looking down at the man, lying on train tracks at the bottom of the bridge. My mom told us he just fell and that he was going to be okay. It wasn’t until years later that I found out he had jumped because his wife of 50+ years had just passed away of cancer.
#12 A Curious Case Of Coins
When I was about nine, I was playing outside at a friend’s house. There was a row of shops further down her street and we would play ball games behind them when they closed because there was a large wall we could bounce our balls off of. One evening, we went down to play ball and found some money on the ground. We happily ran to her house excited about our luck.
On our way back up the street, we found some more coins and a few notes. By the time we got to her door, our pockets were full of coins and notes. We ran in to tell her parents about our treasure only to find more money on the floor in the hall inside the house. We lifted it as well and excitedly told her father everything, showing him all the money.
He took it off of us and said he would give it to the police. He also told us not to tell our parents as we could get into trouble. When I got home, I told my parents everything because I was worried the police would come to my door asking about the money. My parents told me to never mention it again but wouldn’t let me play with my friend anymore. I often wonder what really happened that day.
#13 Mom’s Heartbreaking Haircut
When I was a young teenager, I walked back into my parents’ room to find my mom (who was the most beautiful woman, model pretty) cutting off her own hair. When I asked what she was doing, she said, “Making myself uglier. That way, your dad cheated on me because I’m ugly and not because of who I am.” I knew back then it was horrible, but twenty years later it hits me like a ton of bricks and it breaks my heart. My mom is still the kindest woman I know.
#14 Buried In The Woods
I still swear that I saw someone burying something in the woods when I was, like, 14 years old. I was riding my bike on this gravel roadway back behind a cemetery in NJ and there was this old van in the distance. A hole had been made in the ground a dude with a shovel was moving this something large in a black garbage bag from the van to the hole. Very stereotypical—exactly what you would see in an old mob movie or something.
He saw me and froze and I just biked home as fast as I could. This was maybe 15 years ago. I remember thinking at the time that it looked suspicious, but I kept telling myself that I was just a kid and it must have been a mistake. Looking back on it now as an adult, replaying everything over in my head, I still think it could have been a cover-up. So weird, man.
#15 The Accident That Didn’t Happen
I watched a car speed on the highway and basically do a barrel-roll before landing on its roof. My brother didn’t see it and my mom refused to acknowledge that anything happened, so I assumed that I had daydreamed it. Ten years later, I asked my mom again and she admitted denying it to shelter me from seeing someone pass away tragically.
#16 The Cardboard Box House
I remember seeing a man living with his dog in a little makeshift house made of cardboard boxes. As a kid, I thought that was the absolute coolest thing. I wasn’t until I grew older that I realized that man had no choice but to live in those conditions, which were, in reality, far from a dream scenario. Homelessness is truly a disease.
#17 The Dangerous Lolipop Game
I don’t know if this counts, but my cousin and I were the dumbest children when we were younger. We played this game when no one was around—it doesn’t have a name and it could have ended us on a couple of occasions. Basically, we would get lollipops and push them down each other’s throat. Like, actually hold the lollipop stuck, and slowly slide the candy down. When I took anatomy in school, it dawned on me how absolutely idiotic we acted when we were children. I hope the dumb DNA doesn’t run in family.
#18 Drinking At A Young Age
My parents used to give my brother and me little sips of adult drinks when we were younger to soothe us. My kids are now that age and I would never ever dream of doing that to them. I have no idea what my parents were thinking. We weren’t the loudest, most obnoxious kids either, so chilling us out wasn’t a valid reason. We still love them though.
#19 Watching The Space Shuttle Explosion In School
Let’s see: January 28, 1986. That was the first time we ever had a TV in the classroom at school. It was so exciting, especially for me, a real space freak, to watch a shuttle launch live on television. It didn’t go as planned. Teachers were crying and all the kids were confused. I knew something was wrong—even then I knew what a shuttle launch was supposed to look like.
#20 Not-So-Nice Guy
In kindergarten, we had a substitute teacher who did this thing where he would have the kids say, “Mr. S is a nice guy.” He would beat a drum to signify when you were supposed to say it. Five-year-old me thought he was genuinely a nice guy. About two years later, he was fired for throwing a desk at a first grader. Luckily, he missed.
#21 Blood While Brushing
I was about eight and my sister was three. She walked into the bathroom where I was brushing my teeth and she coughed up blood. Then her eyes rolled back and she passed out. I was nervous and scared, but I had no idea how close my sister was to losing her life that night. It turned out that when she had gotten her tonsils out a few days earlier, the surgeon left an extra cut at the back of her throat. My sister has a blood clotting disorder, so all of the blood pooled into her stomach. Our next-door neighbor was a retired ER nurse and helped clean up the blood while my parents were at the hospital. She said she’d never seen that much blood in her life.
#22 The Could’ve-Been Kidnapping
This happened when I was about seven or eight. I was waiting outside to be picked up from karate class one night, and a group of young people in their 20s pulled up in a van. They tried to get me to come over to them. I just stayed where I was sitting. Then, luckily, a family friend happened to be pulling up to go into the building I was outside of, and he chased them off. He stayed with me until my dad got there. I had no idea of the potential danger I was in. I was just really confused.
#23 The Baseball Bat Beating
I saw someone get beaten with a baseball bat at a sketchy livestock auction when I was younger than 10. Later, when I took part in an emotional screening at school (I acted out a lot), I was asked if I’d ever seen someone lose their life. I thought about it and ultimately responded that I wasn’t sure. I can’t say that helped the process.
#24 Middle-School Harassment
My middle school principal used to make girls bend over to measure our skirt lengths. He’d also snap our bra straps if they were showing, tell certain girls they looked good and others that they looked fat, all in the name of the dress code. He never got in trouble because as middle-schoolers we thought it was just annoying, not borderline illegal. He ended up getting promoted to the high school vice-principal and got fired for harassment in like, a month.
#25 Sippin’ At Stop Lights
My dad was drinking while driving. I was in the car with him. I asked him, “Isn’t that against the law?” and his big brain play was, “No, Ryan, I’m drinking at the stoplights so it doesn’t count.” My dumb eight-year-old brain just thought, “Huh, that adds up,” and I never questioned him again. Thankfully, we’re both still here today.
#26 Roaming In Diapers
My siblings told me a story about how when I was a little toddler, I left the house alone and made it through the woods at the edge of my neighborhood to the highway. A trucker saw me and picked me up. He drove to the nearest neighborhood and started knocking on doors to find my parents. Neighbors directed him to my house, where no one realized I was missing.
My best friend lived down the street and when I was 10 years old, her mom told me about how I used to regularly show up at her house after dark, alone, wearing nothing but a diaper and asking to play. As a kid, I thought these stories were hilarious. As an adult mother with two small children, it’s horrifying to think of what could have happened.
#27 Dad’s Strange Stroke
I watched my father have a minor stroke. To me, he was just acting silly because he tried to pick up some socks and kept missing, and he kept trying to tell me what was going on but couldn’t remember the right words. Thinking about that moment now as an adult makes me so sad and uncomfortable. I know I couldn’t have at the time, but still, I wish I had known better so I could be there for him.
#28 Filing Up On Paper
I have a memory of myself as a child hiding under the stairs eating paper while watching my babysitter. I’ve always had this memory and thought it was hilarious because, geez, who is dumb enough to eat paper? Me, apparently… Turns out, the babysitter wasn’t feeding the kids she was watching. I was eating paper because we didn’t have anything else. Great.
#29 A Scary Snake Feeding
In fourth grade, my class and I watched the class snake eat the other fourth-grade class’s pet mouse. The class that took care of the mouse also got to watch. I remember we all were instructed not to cheer when the mouse got eaten.
#30 Dragged by a Dog
I saw my little kindergarten classmate being pulled off her feet then dragged face-down down the street for almost the whole block when her Afghan dog—she was holding the leash looped on her wrist—took off chasing after something. She didn’t come back to school but none of us kids made the connection. I didn’t see the result when they stopped the dog, I just arrogantly thought it was kind of silly of her to get dragged and never realized she’d likely have needed reconstructive surgery.
#31 The Bloody Bathroom
When I was five or six, I walked into a bathroom in a K-Mart. The entire floor was covered in blood. I remember immediately going and telling my mom. She told a manager and we left. Bloody noses were a regular occurrence for me at that age. My mom told me that someone had a bloody nose and didn’t hold their head up, making me think nothing of it. In my 20s, it randomly popped up into my head, so I called my mom. Turns out, that someone had been targeted that day.
#32 Taking The SWAT Team In Stride
I remember the SWAT team busting down our door to ransack our house after having arrested my dad for trafficking. I was 12 and handled it worlds differently than I would now. Looking back, I was a pretty brave little girl.
#33 A Predator In The Playground
I don’t remember how old I was, but I know I was young. I was at the park with some family. I went up into this castle with a rope floor and was walking along the sides when a strange man stretched his hand out to me and asked me to come with him. He literally had candy in his hand. I remember being scared and running to tell my parents, but I have no memory of what else happened.
#34 Tongue Tied
One time, I witnessed a friend fall from a climbing frame and he bit part of his tongue off. He then hurled and ran off. At the time, I thought he had some sort of sweet snack in his mouth that he was spitting out. I didn’t understand what actually happened.
#35 Perfect Time For Games
My mom woke me up around 2 a.m. to play a new game called “change the locks” before my stepfather got home. I think I was four or five at the time.
#36 Assuming Assassinations Are Normal
I saw Oswald on TV. I was four years old. I walked into the next room and told my parents, “Hey, they went ahead and ended that guy who shot the President.” They did not believe me. I did not quite understand why the Kennedy assassination was such a big deal. I knew that four presidents had been assassinated so I figured it wasn’t really that unusual. It really surprised me when they canceled cartoons on Saturday morning to cover it the next morning. Canceling cartoons seemed a bit over the top to me.
#37 Disgusting Dog Fighting
My uncle fought dogs. He had four pit bulls he kept chained up outside in his backyard and we weren’t allowed to go near them. I asked my dad about it when I was around 18 and he said something like, “Oh yeah, he fought those dogs for money.” Gross.
#38 Seeing A Fatal Car Accident
My mom and I came up to an intersection where a bad car accident had just happened. We saw someone pull a limp body out of the car and start doing CPR. The body started to have convulsions. The intersection ended up being closed off, and we saw paramedics put a blanket over the body. I watched a man pass away at about 10 years old. It was weird at that time, but looking back on it, that’s pretty messed up.
#39 Hiding A Hit And Run From Mom
Running away from the car crash. My brother learned how to drive the car on a gravel road. I was in the back and my father was in the passenger seat. We stopped at a crossroads, started to turn right, and out of nowhere random car flashed through us at like 90 mph. The driver lost control of the car and rolled off the road.
My father and brother started to panic—they switched seats and my father drove back home as fast as possible, saying to me, “Do not tell your mother about this.” I remember this whole accident up to now and it is really annoying that I do not know what happened to the driver. I had no words then to stop my family from running and help that guy.
#40 A Bike And A Hidden Body
When my teacher was a kid, she ran over a kid’s foot with a bike. It triggered a seizure (I believe he was epileptic) and after that, he passed out. She thought she ended him and instead of getting help, she hid him in a closet. After their recess was over they were looking for him and she just started bawling, saying she ended him. The teacher opened the closet and the kid was completely fine. He was just wondering why he woke up in a closet.
#41 Tragedy On The Beach
I went to the local beach with family. When we arrived, I remember being enamored by so many people holding hands in a huge line (I had thought they were all playing a game) and walking from the shore into the chest-high water. I got excited and started begging my mom to go play with them. I had never seen the human chain done before to find a missing swimmer.
They found her, attempted CPR, but couldn’t revive her. So, it also became the first time that I had seen a lifeless body. I thought they had just found her during the course of the “game.” It wasn’t until I got a bit older that I realized that was why they were doing it in the first place. That’s a moment I’ll always remember vividly in my memory.
#42 The Lawn Mower Massacre
In kindergarten, we were sitting at lunch—the teacher went home to eat and her husband went out to mow the lawn. About five or ten minutes later, he came running in screaming with blood all over his hands. I think there was a problem with the mower and he reached in to unclog it, but the blades started up and cut off a finger or two. I remember seeing all the blood and people running around.
#43 Rattled By The Earthquake
The 1985 Mexico City earthquake. I was five, getting ready for school. My parents were watching the live morning news when the earth started to shake. A few seconds later, the TV signal cut to grey static… The main TV station building had just collapsed, trapping many people including the newscaster we had been watching. Not until years later did I realize the magnitude and devastating impact the quake had on the country.
#44 Walking In
I walked in on my parents once when I was really little. Thankfully, I didn’t see anything in vivid detail because they were under the covers, but now that I’m older, I know what they were up to and it grosses me the heck out. Oh well, I guess I can’t blame them for being human… Still, I never ever wish that experience on anyone, kid or older.
#45 Dog Eat Bird
I saw my dog eat an entire bird once. I didn’t think anything of it because I just assumed dogs do that stuff. Now that I’m older, it freaks me out that my dog literally took a single bite and ate that bird whole, while it was still alive. Gross.
#46 Thank Goodness For Lady
When I was around 6, my family rented a smaller house on a farm. The farm was way out of the way and had a long road that led to the main street.
The owner of the land had a very smart and large German Shepherd named Lady. I would hang out with her a lot. One day, Lady took off running all the way down the road, so I ran after her. As I was trying to get her to follow me back, a blue truck pulled up and a woman hopped out. She started telling me how she used to own Lady when she was a puppy before putting her up for adoption. I don’t remember much else of what she said, I responded here and there – but I do remember her offering to give me a ride up back to the house. The entire time Lady stayed right in front of me, staring the woman down and not moving. The lady took a step forward, and Lady just growled at her and stayed her ground. Eventually the woman gave up trying to coerce me and left.
That night, I mentioned it to my brother, saying that I had met Lady’s previous owner. He just said, “Uhm, you know she was probably trying to kidnap you, right? Mrs. Anderson has had Lady since a young puppy.” It didn’t really hit me until I thought about it a few years ago.
#47 Don’t Talk To Strangers
When I was around 5 or 6 I was at Kmart with my mom. This was back in the 70s, so as my mom shopped, I would hang out by myself in the toy department. I especially loved the Simon game, where you press the buttons and try to match the pattern. So, one day I was standing there at the display playing Simon, and an old man started talking to me. He talked to me for a few minutes, and then he told me to come with him. He took me by the hand and started walking toward the back of the store, where there were double doors that led out to the back parking lot. I remember wondering where we were going, but not being particularly concerned. As we were passing the last couple of aisles, I suddenly saw my mom at the end of the aisle. I kind of snapped out of it, realized that I should go to my mom rather than go with this guy. I pulled away from his hand and ran to my mom. I didn’t say a word because I knew she had told me not to talk to strangers.
#48 Keeping An Ear To The Ground
I was 6 years old. My mom and I lived on the 2nd floor of an apartment complex. My mom and I just got out of an abusive household and we were low on money.
I was often bored. So to cure that I would put my ear to the floor and hear what’s going on downstairs. My mom didn’t mind. She was usually swamped with work and as long as I didn’t end up hurting myself it was fine.
One day, I did this and heard two people yelling and screaming at each other. A man and a woman. The man sounded very angry. The woman was crying and screaming. I got up and told my mom that there were people fighting.
She looked up from her work and asked me some more questions. She eventually got up and told me she would be right back and to stay put. A while later, my mom comes back with the sobbing woman. My mom calls the cops and they question all of us. Told us to have a good day and offered places for the woman to stay.
I didn’t understand until much later that that woman was in an abusive relationship and my mom told me I saved her life that day.