Domestic Abuse and other PTSD Survivors
What is Trauma?
While the layperson often reserves the word "trauma" only for wartime or the most flagrant and overt forms of abuse, clinicians today understand that even more subtle forms of dysfunction qualify as being traumatic. Just some examples of trauma include:
• being exposed to any form of abuse, whether overt or covert
• growing up in a family, in which no one takes care of themselves (codependence)
• growing up in a family, in which one or more members is addicted
• having undue responsibility placed upon you, as a child (such as inordinate care for siblings and/or a parent)
• growing up in poverty
• experiencing bullying, intimidation and/or discrimination
• never having received adequate care, attention, nurturing or protection as a child - for any reason.
• actual or perceived abandonment
• actual or perceived rejection
• enduring illness or death, within one's family
• growing up as the offspring of a trauma survivor
• having experienced even one moment during which one feared for primal safety
• not having gotten the bulk of one's needs met, in any stage of formative development
While the layperson often reserves the word "trauma" only for wartime or the most flagrant and overt forms of abuse, clinicians today understand that even more subtle forms of dysfunction qualify as being traumatic.
Adult symptoms of trauma can have lifelong, debilitating effects on the sufferer. Just some trauma symptoms include:
• fear of being alone; attachment difficuly; abandonment issues; avoidance; fear of intimacy
• perfectionism; unduly critical on oneself and/or others; self-punishing
• codependence; lack of personal identity; instinctively knowing, doing and being what others need or want
• easily overwhelmed by one's feelings; easily emotionally triggered
• pattern of abusive relationships; victimizing oneself after being victimized by others
• no sense of own power or right to set limits or say no; difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries
• guilt; shame; low self-esteem; feeling worthless; high appreciation of small favors by others
• inability to trust or trusting indiscriminately; inability to discern who is healthy/safe and who is not
• limited tolerance for happiness; reluctance to trust happiness
• depression; feelings of hopelessness; fear of people; isolated
• anxiety; panic attacks; nightmares; night terrors; startle response; hyper-vigilance; phobias
• anger issues: inability to recognize, own or express anger; rage; fear of rage; constant anger; misdirected anger
• control issues; needing to compensate for powerlessness with power; territoriality issues; fear of losing control; obsessive/compulsive behaviors (attempts to control things that don't matter, just to control something)
• stress-related diseases; gastrointestinal problems
• addictions; compulsive behaviors
• poor or distorted body image; emotional eating; eating disorders
• dangerous risk-taking behavior (adrenaline addiction), or inability to take healthy risks
• self-destructiveness; self-hatred; self-injury (conscious or unconscious)
• suicidal thoughts; attempts; obsession (including passive suicide through poor self-care)
ARCS shows abuse survivors and PTSD sufferers how to create a safe emotional sanctuary in which they can love their authentic self and live their ideal life.
We believe that an excerpt from a recent interview with one of our founders is pertinent:
"You know, when I got to the absolute core of my healing work, I was in fetal position on the floor... and I knew how to walk myself through that kind of pain and, even, to appreciate the authenticity in that moment. And, when I got to the center of it, my biggest regret was, 'How will I ever know who I was supposed to be, had this not happened to me?'... And, a small but powerful voice from within me answered back, 'You have become exactly who you are supposed to be, because this happened to you.' I haven't looked back, since."
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