PTSD from Mental Emotional Abuse

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All people have needs to survive. We need to have proper shelter, food and health care. People need to feel safe and that their needs will be met.

 

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Maslow developed the hierarchy of needs theory in 1943. He stated that people have needs that must be met before other ones. The basic needs for shelter and safety must be met for all people.

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There is no room for fun, learning, socializing or self-actualizing without the basic needs being met first.

The person fails to thrive. All the things other people do are just not the priority. The safety is the priority and dominates the person’s thoughts and emotions.

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When someone is in a living situation where these needs are not met, they are left feeling vulnerable and afraid. The situation is unsafe and potentially life threatening.

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There are different types of domestic abuse. All of them involve the person being stripped of their self-esteem and being denied basic needs that every human has.

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There are men and women who experience violence against them in their own home. There are episodes of violence and there is a constant threat of violence.

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This threat forces the brain to be on alert and suspicious all the time. Your brain learns that it needs to be on high alert at all times, to search the environment for danger. 

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The brain is not designed to be in this state for a prolonged periods of time and damage can occur to the way the brain assesses the possibility and level of potential threats for years to come.

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There are domestic abuse situations which involve financial abuse. People are controlled financially and cannot take care of their own needs. This kind of abuse can keep the victim feeling trapped into the relationship, because they have no means to support themselves on their own. 

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I lived in an abuse situation years ago in which I had to go without heat for most of a very cold winter.

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My money was controlled and I was not “allowed” to purchase heating oil. I still fear the cold and fee post traumatic stress reaction when the winter season begins to make its way into my state.

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When a person is not taken care of and not permitted to take care of themselves, it causes a trauma.

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It is terrifying to feel that you are in danger of freezing, going hungry, going without medical care and any other basic needs. When someone denies you basic human needs it is frightening and creates a horrible feeling of vulnerability.

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Living in these types of abusing situations also causes severe damage to a person’s self-esteem. They may doubt their own ability to provide for their own basic needs for years after the original trauma.

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The feeling of being vulnerable and in danger is carried in the brain and in the nervous system.

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Any situation which is a reminder of the original traumatic abusive situation can trigger a post traumatic stress attack. The person will collapse under the weight of the fear and not be able to function normally.

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In addition to traumatic attacks (like severe panic attacks), the person can have a constant feeling of being unsafe. They feel that any minute something could happen to put them in a place of fear and danger.

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Most people have never been in a dangerous situation of violence of of being in danger of starving or freezing to death. They have never been in a situation where someone threatened to cause them to lose their job unless they were compliant.

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We have lived through an on-going situation of terror and physical and mental abuse. Being forced to go without basic needs is mentally abusive as well as physically abusive.

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It is also emotionally abuse to be shunned and made to feel like an outcast in your own home.  We need to be loved. You need to be accepted and supported by others. It is a survival instinct to be part of a family or tribe of some kind.

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How could the person we trusted and loved, allow us to suffer like that? They made us feel that we were at fault or that we did not deserve to be taken care of?  We did not deserve to be able to take care of ourselves.

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It is difficult for people to understand the post traumatic stress that can result from living in a domestic abuse situation. It can take years to feel safe again or the person may never feel truly safe

 

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..A person who survived domestic abuse trusted someone who violated them in the worst possible way. They treated them like they were not human. It is very hard to truly trust anyone again after that happens to you.

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It is a terrible thing to live with post traumatic stress disorder. It is sad that so many people do not understand how we feel. 

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We have lived through situations where there was a very real threat. In our minds, what is to keep it from happening again. Our good judgement?

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We feel like our judgement let us down already. How can we trust ourselves? With time you can re-wire the neural pathways that have been affected by the abuse.

 

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One of the things to understand is that it is not your judgement that let you down. You probably had a gut feeling that something was wrong, early in the relationship. But you were conditioned during your lifetime to ignore that intuition, especially if the evidence you perceive tells you that your gut reaction is not warranted.

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If you grew up in an emotionally abusive house as a child, then your feelings were not given any priority. Your thoughts and feelings were shut down. So you learned to discount them as an adult. 

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You have to learn to listen to your intuition and know that your feelings are there to guide you, as well as to protect you. Your feelings will warn you about predators and people that are unhealthy for you to be with.

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My hope is for awareness that will generate some understanding. I also pray that all of the many people suffering PTSD from domestic abuse are able to one day find peace and a feeling of safety.

Namaste,
Annie

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