Abuse & Trauma

History of Repetitive Abuse or Neglect

Many people who were abused or neglected as children have a difficult time seeing themselves in a positive light and struggle to maintain healthy relationships as adults. If you were a victim of repetitive physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or neglected as a child, you may be suffering from what is known as "complex trauma". It is considered complex because the abuse most likely occurred more than once, it may have progressed in severity over time, and the abuser/perpetrator may still be present in your life. These compounding factors make the abuse or neglect all the more traumatic.

How Therapy Can Help

Therapy may be the first time a victim has ever talked about the abuse or neglect they experienced. Therapy creates a sacred space that allows a victim of abuse or neglect to share their complete story with no fear of judgment or abandonment. Victims often discuss feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, despair, and worthlessness, and are able to process and let go of these feelings. Through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, negative thoughts about oneself are examined and transformed into truthful, positive thoughts. Relational skills are taught and practiced to improve interpersonal relationships, and relaxation techniques are learned to help manage difficult emotions when they do arise.

Traumatic Events

If you have experienced a highly traumatic event such as a threat to your life, a sexual assault, a tragic accident, a natural disaster, or witnessed any of the above happening to a loved one, it could result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some common symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Nightmares of the event
  • Flashbacks or Intrusive Memories of the event while awake
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Easily startled causing extreme anxiety
  • Increased agitation or angry outbursts
  • Hypervigilence (need to be on-alert at all times)
  • Persistent negative thoughts about self or others ("the world is dangerous", suicidal thoughts)
  • Avoidance of people or places you used to enjoy because they could trigger re-experiencing the event

Therapy will help you learn to recognize unpleasant thoughts before they become overwhelming and replace them with more positive, acceptable, and realistic thoughts. You will learn to identify your triggers and find adaptive ways to soothe and relax yourself when triggered.