How do you write about something that people are afraid to see? How to you expose an undermining, but insidious practice? How do you change peoples’ minds? How does a civilization heal from the wounds of abuse?
Those that suffer abuse are traumatized. Trauma causes a person to reside in the past where the abuse occurred. It is as if time stops, and their minds and bodies are stuck in the pain of the shocking event. In order to attend to the present while still in shock from the past, the traumatized dissociate from their bodies and numb their sensitivity to the physical world about them. For some the disassociation comes as a psychological state, for others it is self-induced through drugs, alcohol, food, sex, and self-injurious behaviors like cutting and burning. Trauma causes people to feel “unreal,” like they are experiencing their life through observation instead of participation. Trauma is a crisis state that can come and go with the onset of fear and pain that may not necessarily seem rational. These raw sensations can cause the traumatized to lash out aggressively, retreat into depression, or remain in a confused state of shock. The experience of trauma is stored in the body. Until the body has processed the painful experience, the traumatized will behave consistently or intermittently, chronically or acutely, as if their very existence is threatened. And for good reason, abuse does terrorize the abused and everybody around the abused.
Do you know someone whose behavior is erratic, irrational, self-destructive? Is it possible that they are struggling to survive the terror of a past or current abuse?
Tami Boehle-Satterfield, MSW, LCSW-C, NBBCH, HTP, a licensed psychotherapist at attentiontoliving.com has challenged herself in 2016 to post weekly about the unpopular topic of abuse. Learn more about Tami at attentiontoliving.com