What is abuse and trauma?
Abuse-related trauma can develop after a person has been hurt and/or neglected, usually in childhood. A woman may have been:
- sexually or physically abused
- emotionally abused or neglected.
As a result, the woman may have overwhelming feelings of distress, fear and helplessness.
Traumatic childhood events can change the way a person’s brain and body work. Trauma can affect the person’s emotions, memory, thinking and sense of self. Trauma can also affect relationships.
Women most often develop the effects of trauma if, as children, they felt helpless and trapped by abuse. Often the abuser was a family member or family friend.
One in ﬁve women has been sexually abused in childhood. One in two has been sexually assaulted or has experienced attempted sexual assault as an adult. Sexual abuse affects women from all backgrounds.
Any form of abuse or trauma can affect individuals for weeks, months, even years after the initial impact. This is why it is imperative that you seek professional counselling if you have experienced such instances. There is no such thing as “too long ago”. Identifying, stress management and resolving thoughts and feelings from abuse and trauma is so freeing and liberating. Past pain and depression doesn’t have to burden you any longer.
Past traumatic experiences have a way of sneaking into our current life. If you have a history of abuse or childhood sexual abuse, violence, traumatic accident or other trauma you may find yourself experiencing some of the following:
- panic attacks
- nightmares, possibly even flashbacks
- intense fear and focus on your safety
- or alternately, acting in an unsafe and careless manner
- lots of unwanted nervous feelings or feeling out of control
- low grade, lingering depression sometimes lasting for many years
- difficulty imagining your future, or an inability visualizing good things in your future or using good judgment for your future (see also acting in an unsafe manner)
Working through past trauma is a highly individual and personal experience. You can go as fast or slow as works for you. You can address everything, or just a little bit. You have complete control of the process.
Can I get abuse counselling for free?
The Samaritans are a UK based charity and offer a telephone or email service. The website is www.samaritans.org
What is PTSD?
PTSD develops when the symptoms of trauma persist or get worse in the weeks and months after the stressful event. PTSD is distressing and interferes with a person’s daily life and relationships.
Symptoms include severe anxiety, flashbacks, and persistent memories of the event.
Another symptom of PTSD is avoidance behaviours. If a person tries to avoid thinking about the traumatic event, visiting the place where it occurred, or avoiding its triggers, it can be a sign of PTSD.
PTSD may last for years, although treatment can help people to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
What is childhood trauma?
Research indicates that children are especially vulnerable to trauma because their brains are still developing.
Children experience a heightened state of stress during terrible events, and their bodies release hormones related to stress and fear.
This type of developmental trauma can disrupt normal brain development. As a result, trauma, especially ongoing trauma, can significantly affect a child’s long-term emotional development, mental health, physical health, and behaviour.
The sense of fear and helplessness may persist into adulthood. It leaves the person at a significantly higher risk
of the effects of future trauma.
What can I do to help myself?
A simple solution is to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
Can mindfulness help?
Mindful breathing and other mindfulness-based exercises can ground people in the present, which can stop them from reliving the traumatic event.