"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
- Anais Nin
The experience of trauma, whatever its form or degree, is to have one’s life forever changed. It is one of our core human needs to feel safe, and when we experience a traumatic event, such as rape, physical assault, domestic violence, wartime combat or other forms of traumatic accident or injury, we are often left feeling unsafe and vulnerable.
Sometimes, the trauma or abuse occurs as a single event, either recent or in the past, and the impact of such leaves emotional scars long after the physical ones have healed. In other circumstances, the trauma or abuse happened progressively, over a period of time, and may have taken various forms of emotional/mental, physical and/or sexual abuse. Symptoms of trauma can include:
- Flashbacks or nightmares
- Avoidant/Withdrawing behaviors
- Increased anxiety/depression
It is not uncommon for survivors of trauma/abuse to doubt, self-blame or criticize themselves or their actions. I often hear clients comment:
"If I had not gone there that day it never would have happened.
I should have known better."
"Why was I the only one who survived?
I should have died with everyone else."
"I thought that if I loved him enough he would change.
Why did I provoke him like that?"
Although it is an important part of therapy and healing to focus on the past and change the patterns of erroneous thinking and behavior that cause a person to blame themselves, it is also important for trauma/abuse victims to focus on the present and the future.
The goal of therapy is to help you move from being a victim of trauma or abuse to that of survivor. It is important to remember that you are not alone, that you are alive, and that it is possible for you to find purpose and meaning in your life again. It is normal to want to avoid and deny the trauma, but through compassionate counseling, you can experience emotional safety that will allow you the freedom to not only survive but thrive!