Trauma And Abuse
LIFE CAN STRIKE OUT AT YOU & LEAVE YOU FEELING ZAPPED!
What You'll Find in the "Trauma Pages": Facts About Trauma What to Expect After a Traumatic Event Pain Avoidance Child Abuse Do I Need Therapy?
Information Just for Teens What to do if You are Raped or Sexually Assaulted Addictions Love & Sexual Addictions Depression & Anxiety
Dissociation Fight/Flight How to Contact Me Helpful Links
Facts About Trauma
There are many things in life that can be traumatizing. We experience emotional trauma when we survive an incident or a pattern of events that threaten our physical and/or emotional sense of safety and security. Some examples of traumatic events may include child abuse, natural disasters or catastrophes, violent and life-threatening crime, witnessing a violent event or homicide, the suicide or homicide of a loved one,, car accidents, domestic violence, experiencing serious injuries, the aftermath of surgery, the loss of a major relationship, rape, assault, war, illnesses and disease, gang violence, etc. Traumatic incidents can effect our personal relationships, our ability to cope with the routine demands of work and school, as well as our health and mental wellbeing. In some cases, such as in times of war or natural disaster, the loss of housing, employment, or other major life circumstances can have devastating consequences for our entire existence. Even the loss of a major relationship can cause such profound life changes that the trauma of the loss can completely overwhelm us. Trauma has serious implications for all aspects of our lives. For example, it isn't uncommon for our most important relationships to breakdown following a major traumatic life event; many people experience dropping grades in school, employment problems and may have a major physical problem arise during a highly stressful time. It is during these times that therapy may be helpful in aiding you through the emotional ups and downs that trauma can cause. Therapy may help preserve your important relationships, provide you with an outlet so that you are able to function at work or school, and help keep you grounding when so many different things can pull your attention away from maintaining your life.
Some traumas are single incidents that overwhelm our ability to cope temporarily,; other traumas are chronic, the traumatic incidents reoccur over and over, such as in the case of long term child abuse or war. Single incident traumas may include a car accident, a natural disaster, rape, assault, or witnessing a violent crime, or the loss of a loved one. It is most common following single events that you will experience major emotional distress and then be able to return to your normal daily routine with time. Some people find that following a single traumatic event, they continue to have emotional distress and their daily function is disrupted for long periods of time. Typically, the more life-threatening an event is, the more traumatizing it will be. This is a general rule. For example, a person who witnesses a car accident is likely to be less traumatized than the person who is involved in the car accident, however, witnessing a major car accident involving a loved one is going to be more traumatic than witnessing a car accident involving a stranger. The car accident involved your loved one threatens your emotional safety and well-being. It hits closer to home and thus will be more traumatic for you.
Chronic trauma is disruptive in a different way than single incident trauma. Chronic trauma, such as ongoing child abuse, sexual abuse, being a survivor of domestic violence, or coping with a difficult divorce/break-up, may not have the same kind of symptoms that surviving a single incident trauma has. In single incident traumas, you are more likely to have symptoms of nightmares, flashbacks, daydreaming about the trauma, and sudden emotional waves associated with the traumatic incident after the event. You may avoid going to the place where the trauma occurred or want to avoid thinking about the incident in an effort to "just get on with my life." In cases of chronic trauma, a person is in a position of on-going captivity. Living in an abusive household creates an emotional climate of captivity, and in order to survive in this type of environment, we adapt to the environment and learn to minimize the impact that it has on our lives. For example, for a child who is being sexually abused by his/her parent, the child is dependent upon the parent for his/her emotional and physical survival. The child has a relationship with the abuser, the parent. The child is going to learn ways to adapt to the environment for survival. This child is less likely to have nightmares and flashbacks, although these symptoms may occur, but what is more common is that the child is going to learn to integrate aspects of the abusive situation as normal, and later take these aspects out into the world after the abuse has stopped. Whatever survival mechanisms are learned in a captivity situation, these are applied to non-captivity situations, making it difficult to adjust to post-abusive environments. Confusion, difficulty managing anger and sadness, anxiety, rage, over-reactions and misperception of your environment, body memories, impaired memories and avoidance of thinking about abuse are more common of chronic trauma survivor's experiences. Acting out behaviors like sexual avoidance or promiscuity, fighting, drug/alcohol abuse, etc. may also be a problem. Relational problems are also very common.
Typically, we are very critical of ourselves when we are unable to function "normally." Unfortunately, trauma is a part of every person's life at some time, and yet some of us are overburdened with life's difficulties, more than others. There doesn't seem to be any reason why trouble strikes some people more than others, no matter how much people try to look for reasons for the uncontrollable. We all want to feel in control of our worlds, but sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. We like to look for the reasons why one child was abused, while another one wasn't, or why this women was battered over this other woman. Why was this man a victim of a violent crime, yet this other guy wasn't targeted by the assailant. The problem with these types of questions is that the question creates an assumption that the survivor is somehow responsible for being a survivor, and that the survivor could somehow prevent what had occurred. I believe it is something every survivor struggles with - the wish to have control over the uncontrollable. The problem is that the uncontrollable is just that, beyond your control. A woman who walks down the street in sweats is just as likely to be a victim of a sexual assault as a woman who is wearing a miniskirt and a halter top. Neither woman is doing something to become a victim. A person who rapes has his/her own psychological reasons for targeting one person over another. The blame lies in the assailant, not the survivor.
When you consider the impact of trauma on people, the very idea of trauma's impact is based upon the lack of one's control over events. This is key to what makes one feel overwhelmed, unsettled, shocked and disheartened. Not being able to control external events like natural disasters, war or another person's actions is the very reason people experience a sense of trauma and horror when they survive traumatic events. They lack control over the circumstances.
What makes one person able to cope with tragedy and another struggle depends on many factors. Having a history of being abused throughout your early childhood and the loss or disruption of early childhood bonds may have an impact on a person's ability to cope later in life. A person whose parent died when he was 5 may have more trouble when a traumatic event occurs than a child who had his same parents through childhood. Having a supportive network of friends and family who understand you when you are in a crisis and who come together to support one another can positively impact your ability to cope. Having a calm, naturally positive type of temperament is another factor that makes a person more resilient than others. Some people are born with temperaments that make them able to deal with life tragedy better than others, and some of us were lucky enough to have families who taught us how to cope better with trouble than others. If your family coped with problems by coming together, being supportive of one another, comforting each other and being constructive about seeking solutions to problems, you are more likely to have an easier time adjusting to stress and loss than the person who was raised by alcoholic and violent parents. The person who had more stress and trauma in childhood is more likely to have more problems when faced with a tragedy. Neither of these people are to blame for their backgrounds, and learned coping and problem-solving abilities. You are born with a certain amount of resiliency (ability to cope), you learn skills from the people who raised you from childhood on and you can learn better coping skills throughout your life that can assist you, but your response to trauma typically comes from the combination of factors. Even people whose families were good at problem-solving and being supportive of one another may have major problems coping, because the temperament that they were born with is the type that makes it harder to deal with crisis. Your ability to deal with problems, crisis and tragedy is complicated.
Do you feel as though you walk around in a fog, time gets lost and you have no idea what has happened, or hear voices inside of your head? Does everything around you feel like you are just watching a movie but it doesn't feel like you are in the picture, only a part of you is even though you are there? Do you find things that you know you must have done or written, but cannot recall having done it, or it seems to be in someone else's handwriting? Do you lose big chunks of time? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you may have a dissociative disorder. Click on the Dissociation Link to learn more. I work with all kinds of dissociative problems, from routine mild dissociative problems like feeling like you are always in a walking dream, to severe dissociative problems. Please note that I only will treat dissociators who are willing to commit fully to safe behaviors. I may have you sign a general safety contract in the beginning of treatment. Contact me for a free consultation.
|Trauma Information Pages||National Center for PTSD||
International Organization for Trauma Survivors
|Posttraumatic Stress Disorders||Effects of Child Abuse||Abuse Dynamics|
|Normal Child Sexual Development and Behaviors||Rape, Abuse, Incest - RAINN||Sexual Abuse Resource CenterNational||Sexual Violence||LA Commission on Assaults Against Women||Female Survivors|
|Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse||Male Survivors - Sexual Abuse||Info. on Sexual Abuse of Males||Rape Treatment Center Santa Monica/UCLA||Teen Crisis Assistance||Helping Children & Teens Cope with Trauma|
|National Runaway Switchboard||California Youth Crisis Line||Children of the Night||Travelers Aid||The Children of Rage for Parents Who Have Rageful Children||Center for Missing and Exploited Children|
|Dating Violence||Domestic Violence||Cycle of Violence Wheel/||Why Women Stay with Abusive Partners||Stalking Victims.Com||Are You Being Stalked?|
|Divorce & Child Custody||DivorceNet.Com||Neutral Ground Mediation Services||Mediation Services & Child Custody Through Family Court||LA County Mediation Center||Sudden Traumatic Loss|
|Compassionate Friends - Grief Support Program||National Coalition of Homicide Survivors||Network of Victims Assistance - Homicide Page||Murder Victims.Com||Parents of Murdered Children||Murder Memorial Wall|
|Survivors of Suicide Pocket Handbook||Survivors of Suicide (SOS)||SAVE Suicide Awareness||1000 Deaths Suicide Survivors||The Trevor Project - teen suicide prevention||Suicide Memorial Wall|
|Sibling Survivors - Suicide Survivors||Parents of Suicide||Child Suicide for Parents||Sidran Institute For All Types of Survivors||Questions About All Forms of Dissociation||DID Fact Sheet|
|Dissociative Identity (Multiplicity)||Mosaic Minds||Displaced Parts||Labyrinth of People||Our Inner World||NeeDID Exchange|