Anger

Keeping a Balanced Body After Abuse

Recovering from trauma of abuse often means learning to be more in touch with the body. Victims of abuse have a tendency to dissociate. In order to cope with the trauma, the mind is removed from the present physical condition. The body becomes "not me."

Practicing self-compassion honors the feelings that surround the abuse. It can be an uncomfortable experience grappling with shame, guilt, resentment, hostility, or desire for retaliation. Unfortunately, we might turn to food or addictive substances to self-soothe. A healthier, long-term way to
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

The Fear of Having Children When You Grew Up in an Abusive Home

I’ve often wondered what kind of mother I would be. I thought I’d be a terrible parent, unable to make any decisions on my own. I thought I needed someone watching my every move or I’d screw up royally. Then I’ve swung the other way and thought I’d be the greatest mother in the world. And among all that ambivalence, I wonder if I’ll ever be a mother at all.

I grew up in an abusive home where bad behavior and poor coping skills were modeled daily. I spent much of my adult life trying to unlearn those unhealthy ways of dealing with my emotions and with the world.
Continue Reading

Bullying

I Won’t Make the Same Mistakes My Parents Made

“I will not make the same mistakes my parents made.” It may be one of the most common sentiments in the world of parenting. But when we express this desire, it is often met with rolled eyes or some other doubtful response. Why is that? Deep down inside, I think we all sense it is much more complicated than we are willing to acknowledge.

Changing our parenting approach from the way we were raised is extremely difficult. The only easy solution is to swing the parenting pendulum to the opposite extreme, which does very little to improve the situation.

It is as though we are hardwired to behave in the same manner. In reality, that may be the truth. Our brain has been wired to perceive reality in a certain way.

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Tapping into Your Resilience After Abuse

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." -- Khalil Gibran
Facing the fact that we’ve been abused isn’t simple. It’s wrapped up in feelings of being deeply flawed. When we’ve been hurt emotionally, physically, or sexually, we tend to internalize our anger and turn it on ourselves.

We may feel that we’ve done something wrong to deserve the abuse or feel that we’re marked by the abuse. The shame and guilt that should belong to the abuser is transferred to the victim, giving them a sense of being defective or contaminated. That’s one of the reasons it took me so long to face the truth.
Continue Reading

Inspiration & Hope

You Have Permission to Cut Off Your Abuser

I know that other abuse survivors go searching for confirmation that it’s righteous and acceptable to cut their abuser out of their life forever. But when you’ve been abused by your parent, sibling, or other family members, it’s rare that anyone will tell you, "It’s unresolvable" or "Walk away from the relationship completely."

Recovery from child abuse was always bringing up conflicting attitudes for me. 
Continue Reading

Memory and Perception

Tell Your Therapist About the Abuse

“Unresolved emotional pain is the great contagion of our time -- of all time.” ~ Marc Ian Barasch
Imagine you are seeing a therapist and have an abuse history. It's safe to assume that you've already talked to the therapist about the abuse. Right? It would make sense, and yet, again and again I hear other abuse survivors say they've postponed talking to their therapist about the abuse.

The phrase “child abuse” becomes easily stuck in a victim’s throat. The abuser may distort the events that occurred so we aren’t sure of what happened. Sometimes, we’re so young when the abuse occurred we barely understand what was going on. Memory also plays tricks. In an attempt to insulate us from terrifying experiences, memory can become a block of Swiss cheese with holes in it everywhere.
Continue Reading

Anger

Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Unlike physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse can be much harder to pinpoint and recognize. Emotional abuse often is inconsistent in amount and duration and happens in multiple forms. At its core, emotional abuse plays into deep-seated fears of rejection, abandonment, unworthiness, shame and loveability.

Projection and gaslighting are two major tactics used in emotional abuse. Projection is the act of placing unacceptable feelings or unacceptable wants or desires onto another person. For example, a person who feels inferior constantly accuses others of being stupid or incompetent.
Continue Reading

Personal

Trauma Survivors Aren’t Disgusting

Something I hear all too often from other abuse survivors is that they feel disgusting. Having been sexually abused makes us feel repulsive. People of all ages from every stage of healing have encountered this feeling at some point, and it may very well come up again and again.

My disgust kept me from uttering the truth for most of my life. I couldn’t accept the fact that I was sexually abused. It seemed like if I told the truth the people around me would cease to love me. They would think I was contaminated with something dark and corrupt. It would spread to their families and then they’d also have no hope for a normal, healthy life. I wondered, “Who would want to know someone with such a disgusting secret?”
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Memory Isn’t Important to Recover from Trauma

Memory comprises all the ins and outs of our lives. We go looking into it for everything from survival to simply making a joke. We use memory every day and sometimes it’s hard to separate the things we’ve done or experienced from our very identity.

For us who survived child abuse, memory isn’t our best friend. Memories may be intrusive. We might flashback suddenly and relive the trauma all over again. We can be well on the road to recovery, and these images and all the feelings they evoke may return.
Continue Reading

Bullying

Do’s and Don’ts for Setting Healthy Boundaries

Leading a truly healthy and authentic lifestyle requires setting defined personal boundaries to create better relationships. Setting such boundaries helps improve communication skills, preserves self-respect and self-esteem, and decreases feelings of resentment and guilt. Knowing who we are as individuals and having a clear understanding of the space between where we end and another person begins is essential to living an emotionally healthy life.

For many people, setting these boundaries can be challenging and, in some cases, a completely new concept.
Continue Reading

Creativity

Storytelling Will Save the World

Captain’s log. Stardate January 2011. Where unfortunately many have gone before. I’m 26 years old and thinking about dying. Actually, I’m not being entirely truthful. I’m dangling halfway out the fourth floor window of my bedroom in New York City.

I don’t really want to die. I just want the emotional pain to stop, and I don’t know how to do that. Both my father and grandfather didn’t know how to make their own terrible personal pain stop, and now both are dead.
Continue Reading

Bullying

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

The mental health community has come to understand that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be as common in children as in adults. What began as a disorder mostly of combat veterans has been shown to affect numerous trauma survivors across many situations.

Trauma comes in many forms. A child could be traumatized by a major event, such as physical or sexual abuse, a car accident, or by witnessing a horrifying event. Those are the easier ones to identify. But children also can be traumatized from a conglomeration of daily toxic stress, such as living in poverty, constant bullying, or moving to a place much different than their previous geographic location (culture shock).

Continue Reading