Family

Child Abuse Survivors, Victims Need You to Talk About It

How do you recover from childhood abuse? Is healing possible? Will the shame ever go away? Will I always struggle with depression or anxiety?

These are important questions as we enter April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month. While the answers to these questions are different for everyone, sharing our stories can inspire hope and help other survivors heal.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” - Nelson Mandela
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Children and Teens

Could Childhood Emotional Abuse Lead to Migraines Later in Life?


Say what?!

It isn't an exaggeration to say that people who get migraines suffer. Migraines are more intense than regular headaches and can last for hours or days. Any movement, bright lights or noises can make the pain worse. When you're having a migraine you might feel nauseous or have to vomit.

Some people only occasionally get migraines, while others seem to get them all the time. And since they're so debilitating, you may miss work or an important event because all you want is for the pain to go away.
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General

When a Trauma History Feels Like Unlimited Limitations

Sometimes I try to do things that regular people do, people who don’t have a trauma history, and my PTSD steps in and says, “No, no, sweetheart. I don’t think so.”

I listened to a podcast recently where a handful of people kept dream recordings for a few months and then the most intelligible ones were made into an episode. It required participants to record themselves talking about their dreams with as much detail as possible as soon as they awoke, which could mean in the morning or in the middle of the night.

It was fascinating. Lots of dreams about bosses. Obviously there’s something there, something to be examined. I wanted to try it. I went to bed on a normal, comfortable Sunday and kept dreaming of being raped.
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Anxiety and Panic

4 Things I Learned in Trauma Group Therapy

I never wanted to go to group therapy, especially for my trauma history. Child sexual abuse didn’t seem like something I was ready to share with a group of people, even if they had walked a mile in my shoes. As long as I didn’t reveal my dark secret to anyone else, they saw a normal woman before them. If they learned I was abused, I thought for sure they’d see me as some kind of festering wound on society, a reminder that there are perverts among us, operating beneath the otherwise cheerful and wholesome social world.

I'm sensitive about my faults. In fact, I'm sensitive about everything. I didn’t want to take what I considered to be by far the ugliest thing about me to a group of strangers on a weekly basis as if to say, “Here it is again!”

Sadly, I never considered the fact that I didn’t feel that way about other people who had been abused. Why would I ever imagine they’d feel that way about me?
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Bipolar

Is Depression Always a Disease?

Like most mental health writers, I have compared depression to illnesses like diabetes in the past, and stressed the biochemical aspect of mood disorders in my efforts to reduce stigma. Somehow talking about the gene G72/G30 located on chromosome 13q (that may predispose individuals to depression and bipolar disorder) makes it more legitimate, as if the gene proves we aren’t making it up.

However, the more I read about how abuse, trauma, and chronic stress --unresolved issues of all kinds -- can cause and aggravate depression, the less I want to compare it to diabetes.
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Family

How Childhood Emotional Neglect Affects Relationships

Childhood emotional neglect (CEN) is a deep, long lasting wound that is not easily detectable in adults or by those in close relationships with them.

When you have exposure over time to an adult with childhood trauma, you will notice that the person has trouble communicating emotions or feelings, constantly withdraws instead of exploring feelings, and uses only functional, simple sentences. At first, you may wonder if you have harmed this person by something you’ve said, but when it becomes a continual pattern, it’s best to understand the underlying elements before thinking it’s something you can fix or change.
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General

The Quandary of Being Falsely Accused and How to Deal with It

Attending Catholic school in Brooklyn, I felt loved by the Catholic nun who was my second grade teacher. But one cold morning that suddenly changed.

We were lining up to enter the classroom when the nun suddenly came up to me, shouting, “Spit out the gum!” Being an obedient Catholic boy, I’d never consider flaunting the no-gum rule, so I was stunned by the accusation. Defending myself, I replied, “I’m not chewing gum!”

I was confident that my protestation would clear things up. But my innocence was shattered again: “You are chewing gum,” the nun insisted. “Don’t lie!” Ouch! I could feel my stomach churning and a horrible sinking feeling to be assaulted by a second accusation. Dare I protest again?

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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
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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.
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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.

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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.
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