The Long Tail of Trauma

This is a story of mothers. This is a story of daughters.
This is a story of the trauma we carry and the trauma we tend to.

 So begins this multigenerational memoir that explores the author’s maternal history of repeated trauma, separation, adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and their impact on mental health. Set against a twenty-year dialogue with her mother Barbara who suffers from long undiagnosed PTSD, author Elizabeth Wilcox opens her maternal history with the birth of her illegitimate grandmother Violet to a German house servant outside London in 1904. With her mother’s encouragement, Wilcox goes on to trace the lives of Violet and her mother Barbara, both of whom are deeply impacted by maternal separation and the complex trauma they have endured because of war.
    Through a dual timeline that is both present day and historic, Wilcox weaves together the documented and imagined voices of the women who precede her. The historic narrative begins with young Violet who endures multiple separations: from her mother until the age of six, from her German Jewish stepfather during WWI at the age of ten, and from her own three-year-old daughter Barbara when her family escapes without her from Holland during Hitler’s invasion. Later put on a train to Wales with her eighteen-month-old brother Neville during Operation Pied Piper, Barbara also tragically endures an itinerant childhood of foster homes, boarding schools and abuse.
     In this compelling work, Wilcox deftly weaves the psychological findings she uncovers as a journalist and writer in the field of early childhood education and mental health, providing greater understanding of the impact of adverse childhood experiences on adult wellbeing and mental health. Through her mother Barbara who has successfully raised seven children despite her difficult past, Wilcox also shows what it means to parent with intention, forgiveness and unconditional love.


“An insightful and skillfully woven tale that brings to life the intergenerational legacy of trauma, as well as the power that love and forgiveness have to loosen its stronghold. Masterfully written with a deep psychological understanding of early childhood adversity and the ghosts that linger in its wake.”
—Dr. Beth Casarjian, psychologist; Co-Author, Mommy Mantras: Affirmations and Insights to Keep You From Losing Your Mind; and Clinical Director, The Lionheart Foundation

“A fascinating journey into the many ways in which inherited trauma wires us. Part personal history and part psychological quest, the book is an incredibly good read on the legacy of trauma and what gets handed down from the family we’re born into. The writing zings with honesty and wisdom about what it means to be a mother who forgives herself—and who is also able to forgive her own mother. Woven throughout is a beating heart that reminds us in the end, that love will carry us through.”
—Susan Conley, author of The Foremost Good Fortune, an Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick and Entertainment Weekly Memoir to Read


“…a readable, intimate and consummately dramatic genealogy with much to offer to readers. THE LONG TAIL OF TRAUMA will have special appeal to women courageously following the example set by Wilcox…” —Review by Barbara Bamberger Scott on November 13, 2020

“The author is adept and compassionate adopting multiple points of view to tell a story of “maternal past and maternal present”—one that’s as much about inheritance as it is forgiveness. A compelling and instructive story of the adverse effects of intergenerational trauma.” —Kirkus


Elizabeth Wilcox has worked as a journalist in England, Hong Kong, and the US. She has extensive experience both nationally and internationally as a newspaper columnist, radio presenter, CNBC television news producer, and web producer. Her first book The Mom Economy (Berkley, 2003) was called “One of the best career books of 2003” by syndicated columnist Joyce Lain Kennedy. Wilcox currently specializes in content development and strategy for educational organizations that promote social and emotional learning in early childhood and trauma-informed practices for youth.


266 pages; 6 x 9 / Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-950584-62-8  $17.95 print
ISBN: 978-1-950584-63-5 $9.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-950584-64-2 $29.99 audio

Publication Date: Nov. 11, 2020
Distributor: IPG / Chicago
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights contact: Dede Cummings

Women, Mental Health Practitioners, Educators

Author URL:

Distributor: IPG; also available through Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other wholesalers.
Individuals can order via, online,, or contact your local, independent bookstore.
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Independent Publishers Group
814 N. Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Order Placement: (800) 888-4741