Surviving abuse and experiencing trauma are often closely connected. Discover how experiences of abuse frequently lead to developing trauma and learn more about how therapy can help you process both and help you lead a happier life.
What is abuse?
Abuse is a deliberate act which one person inflicts on another, resulting in them becoming hurt or distressed. The acts include a range of actions and behaviors, and which is used will depend on the type of abuse. All of them will be carried out in a bid to exert dominance.
Abuse can happen to, and be perpetrated by, anyone. It can happen in any relationship, whether that’s within an intimate partnership, among colleagues or even between strangers.
There are several types of abuse, including:
- Physical abuse: Inflicting physical pain on someone through violent actions like pushing or hitting.
- Emotional abuse: Using words designed to exert power and result in suffering such as gaslighting or threats.
- Sexual abuse: Non-consensual sexual acts like rape and incest.
- Financial abuse: Control over someone’s economic resources such as dictating household spending or removing access to funds.
- Neglect: Long-term failure to meet fundamental needs like food, love and shelter.
- Domestic violence: When abuse takes place in a domestic environment.
- Child abuse: When abuse happens to someone under 18.
- Elder abuse: When abuse happens to an older person.
What is trauma?
Trauma happens in response to enduring a highly stressful or mentally distressing event, which overwhelms your ability to cope. It can leave you feeling severely threatened either physically or emotionally (or both).
Naturally, survivors of abuse often have trauma. Not everyone will experience or react to trauma in the same way, but for many the effects can be long lasting and debilitating, causing extreme mental suffering.
Some of the symptoms of trauma include:
- Intrusive memories
- Sleep issues
- Panic attacks
- Memory problems
- Problems with loved ones
- Unable to have physical intimacy
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling numb, angry or ashamed
- Alcohol or drug misuse
- Suicidal ideation
Experiencing trauma can also lead to other mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How can therapy help with abuse and trauma?
Enduring abuse and trauma is psychologically stressful and can remove your ability to lead a full life. It may feel like you’ll never feel ‘normal’ again, but it is possible to recover from abuse-related trauma. While talking about it can’t take your trauma away, it can help you learn how to deal with it so it no longer has such an influence over your life.
Understandably many survivors of abuse don’t feel comfortable talking to their friends or family about what they have been through. Therapy can provide the emotional support required to process the abuse, unpack the trauma and help rebuild your life.
Your therapist will listen to you in a respectful, judgement-free manner, which can be very validating for someone who has experienced abuse. In this safe space, you and your therapist can explore your emotions, create new coping mechanisms and address any symptoms like low self-esteem or flashbacks.
If you’re interested in exploring how therapy could help you come to terms with the abuse-related trauma you have experienced, book in for a free phone consultation with one of our team by calling 01892 249032. Alternatively, click on the green ‘book a consultation’ button to automatically select a time that suits you.
Samaritans – call 116 123 for 24/7 support for anyone who needs to talk
Victim Support – call 0808 168 9111 for emotional and practical support
Childline – call 0800 1111 for a free helpline or use the online chat for support for children and young people
The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) – call 0808 801 0331
Hourglass – call 0808 808 8141 or text 078 6005 2906 for support for older people who have experienced abuse
Respond – specialist support services for people with learning disabilities