Trauma survivors have symptoms instead of memories (Harvey, 1990)
Wounds that are seen or unseen
- can be from neglect and abuse in early life (developmental trauma)
- trauma that occurs repeatedly, cumulatively and even increases over time. (complex trauma), such as sexual abuse, (asca.org.au), family violence, results of war, human trafficking or the outcome of chronic illness that requires intensive, complex and painful interventions
- or exposure to a single traumatic event (PTSD)
and can significantly impact the quality of life. leading to:
- difficulty controlling anger and/or the urge for self-harm
- impact on memory and awareness
- changes in self image and self worth
- Impacting relationships, mistrust and hyper-vigilance
- physical complaints and medical problems:
Trauma challenges our feelings of safety
Trauma impacts our ability to feel safe in the here and now.
This can lead to withdrawal, difficulties in being able to trust, alienation from “normal life”, hardship in meeting personal and professional goals and maintaining intimate relationships, emotional overwhelm, loss of a sense of the future, nightmares, flashbacks, hyper vigilance or mistrust, substance abuse and eating disorders.
Abuse results in powerlessness, fear, rage and relationship difficulties
Abuse is the violation of an individual’s human or civil rights, through the act or actions of another person or persons. Abuse can be physical, neglect, sexual, social, verbal or spiritual, leading to negative psychological and economic impact.
Abuse can be:
Abuse can also be from early childhood either inadvertent, or through ignorance or parental, family neglect.
“If (secure attachment) is absent from the first three years of life……deprivation of critical experiences during development may be the most destructive yet least understood area of child maltreatment” (Perry, 2002) Quoted in Fisher 2013
“neglect leaves clients with tendencies to isolate and avoid, precocious self reliance, preoccupation with attachment yearning or tendencies to hyper-vigilence and emotional distance” (Fisher, 2013)
Active abuse can occur through domestic violence from partners, parents, other family members as well as at work though work colleagues.
Abuse can be random, such as road rage or racial taunts
Institutional abuse can occur from members of cults and cult like situations where you can feel powerless and controlled.
Abuse stems from power inequalities or systemic bullying, bullying at school, in the armed forces, or any other “command and control” hierarchy.
and may result in feeling locked into the role of victim, abuser or rescuer
“Criticism, normal life mistakes, less than perfect performance or even performance itself can trigger shame response, but so can healthy self assertion, self care, success, being seen , asking for needs, feeling porous or happy about one’s self.”(Fisher 2010)
These strong somatic experiences (in our bodies) prevents us from being able to reach out, connect and live joyously.
Anger is a normal healthy emotion and can be an appropriate, adaptive response to threat. Being able to express angry feelings in an assertive not aggressive manner is a healthy way to express this emotion. However, if is not able to be managed and expressed appropriately, it can be destructive and impact at work and in personal relationships
“The response varies from person to person, but some symptoms include teeth grinding, fists clenching, flushing, paling, prickly sensations, numbness, sweating, muscle tensions and temperature changes”Tavris (1995).
The feeling of anger may differ from person to person; women, for example, are more likely to describe anger slowly building through the body rate, while men describe it as a fire or a flood raging within them [source: Thomas]. Of course, it varies by what’s acceptable in the culture as well.
It’s much like the fight-or-flight response; your body is gearing up for a fight to survive a wrong that’s been perpetrated against you. Chemicals like adrenaline and noradrenaline surge through the body fuelling uncontrollable explosive angry outbursts or corrosive covert anger, both can create great damage to relationships as well as to your own health and wellbeing. (Ref: http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/anger2.htm )
Managing anger, finding an appropriate response, in a safe place allowing the individual somatic experience and what may be happening underneath, consciously and non consciously, can create understanding and the ability to regulate this powerful response.
Resentment, irritability and exasperation, can occur when one feels that their needs are not being heard or honoured. Exploring personal and family issues can be a key to understanding and creates new responses..