What is PTSD from Abuse
& What can I do?
PTSD stands for 'Post Traumatic Stress Disorder". A lot of survivors of abuse will unfortunately endure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following a traumatic event or events.
PTSD will most often develop within the first month of the event that has caused it, however this does not mean that it is not possible for it to develop months or even years after.
As well as this, the effects of PTSD can also go through periods of being less and more severe. Some people also sadly suffer with the issue constantly. There are a wide range of different symptoms for PTSD as it is a very complex issue however some of the more prevalent ones are as follows:
Reliving the experience
This is the most common symptom of PTSD in which the person suffering will spontaneously and realistically relive the event.
There is no set way in which this will play out however it will tend to be in flashbacks, distressing and overwhelming sensations – both mental and physical as well as flashbacks.
This also ties in with repeated thoughts about what has happened.
Becoming emotionally numb
People who suffer with PTSD may emotionally distance themselves from aspects of their life and begin to feel numb rather than anything else.
This can also lead to isolation from friends, family and hobbies.
A feeling of consistently being on edge
A general feeling of anxiety is also common, making the person suffering being unable to truly relax. This also includes being easily unsettled.
This feeling can lead to being easily irritated, outbursts of anger, insomnia and concentration issues.
Other common symptoms of PTSD
- General mental health issues ranging from depression, anxiety and developing phobias that were not present before.
- Self-destructive behaviour such as substance abuse and self-harm.
Physical sickness can also be attributed to PTSD.
- People may suffer from headaches, feeling dizzy, general pain specifically in the chest and stomach also.
What is Abuse Amnesia?
This is also known as dissociative amnesia which is associated to PTSD.
This is where any thoughts of the event are blocked out or pushed to the back of the victims mind causing an effect of amnesia relating to the incident.
This means that the incident would be completely forgotten about.
If you are wondering if you may suffer from this, one of the ways to tell is if you have strong reactions and emotions relating to people or places that subconsciously remind you of the events.
Is PTSD Permanent?
There is no set amount of time in which someone will suffer with PTSD as each person is effected by the mental health issue differently.
If PTSD remains untreated for someone suffering with it then it could even potentially stay with them their whole life. For some the overall severity of what they are enduring will change over time from being very strong to weaker at other points. It may even slowly fade altogether over time.
Events that may remind people suffering of what caused it can also cause a regression in the healing process. This can be something as simple as the anniversary of when it happened.
We are always learning more about how to deal with mental health issues, it is becoming clearer that PTSD no longer has to be something that stays with someone for life.
Different types of therapy such as cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure therapy have been showing promising results in helping people recover.
This isn’t to say that it is incurable without therapy however it has been proven to be a massive help for those suffering.
What can I do if I suffer from PTSD?
If you believe that you may unfortunately be struggling with post traumatic stress disorder you will be able to arrange an appointment with your local doctor’s surgery to be assessed.
Depending on this assessment you may be referred to a specialist for further appointments or for help to deal with the issue. This could be a form of therapy that may help you greatly in your day to day life.
While we can offer to help you receive compensation for what have been through, you will be greatly helped if you visit a GP or mental health specialist for any mental struggles you may be dealing with.
There is help available for however you are feeling.
How do I handle PTSD flashbacks & triggers?
Victims often want to know how to stop flashbacks from abuse as they may be figuring out how to cope with sexual abuse.
There are many ways that can help you limit the effects of these flashbacks, some common methods are:
- Focusing on the present moment and remember that the flashback is just a memory.
- You could try and ground themselves in the present moment.
- Stamping your feet to remind you of where you are now.
- Look around and take in your surroundings – notice the place, the furniture, colours etc
- Listen to the sounds around you such as traffic, people chatting etc to try keep yourself in the present moment.
- You could ‘ping’ a band on your wrist to help stay in the present moment.
Sexual abuse triggers
Triggers can be things which remind the survivor of the sexual abuse. Again, there are some tips that can be used to help deal with sexual abuse triggers:
- To not wear items that did not exist back then.
- To not go to certain places which may trigger any unwanted memories.
- You may find it useful to not use words including swearing, put downs and specific words.
- You may want to go for a walk and be around nature.
- You should try share your feelings with someone for example, a friend, family members or even someone professional.
- You should take out time for yourself and take as long as you need to get over it for example do things like, read, go out with friends etc.
Some ways to deal with the sexual abuse PTSD and how to deal with sexual abuse triggers are:
- Treatments such as therapy.
- Reaching out to someone you trust as they can speak about what’s happened and how it has made you feel.
- Possibly joining a support group if you feel comfortable enough to speak with others which may make it easier for you to cope, feeling less isolated.
- Try to anticipate and prepare for triggers for example, acknowledging the place you are, smells, sounds etc.
- To stay connected with friends and participate in social activities.
- To nurture yourself and take time to rest and restore the body.
Victims often suffer from PTSD after narcissistic abuse and will want to know how to deal with PTSD after narcissistic abuse. The methods detailed above would be effective in dealing with this.It is important to know that victims of narcissistic abuse do heal but it is important that you focus in yourself.
Trauma is often replaced with the post-traumatic stress disorder. Someone suffering with trauma due to sexual abuse may want to deal with it by:
- Knowing that the recovery process is not simple and will take a while.
- Knowing the process will help develop your strengths, insights and abilities.
- Dealing with it and speaking about it will help the recovery process.
- Maintaining a balanced diet and sleep.
- Taking time outs when needed and look after yourself.
- Writing your feelings down on paper if you find it difficult to speak to someone
- Using stress reduction techniques like jogging, walking, yoga, massages etc.
How to overcome abuse trauma
Recovering from Trauma is a very difficult challenge for vulnerable victims of violent crime.
We understand that victims will sometimes feel like they will never recover, however we at the Criminal Injuries Helpline promise that this is not the case.
Victims have to learn to understand the trauma and then they will learn how to deal with the abuse trauma.
One thing to remember is that it is never the victims fault for feeling the way they do. Suffering with trauma is common worldwide. Statistics show that almost one in four people will suffer with mental health at least once in their lifetime.
There are several ways for which someone can try to recover from abuse & heal from trauma.
Firstly, it is important for the victim that they try to learn about trauma & PTSD. Ways of doing this include online research, reading a book or speaking to a medical professional. This will allow you to understand why you feel the way you do. In turn, this can also help to identify triggers which cause your trauma. Identifying triggers can assist you avoiding situations where they become apparent in future.
You could join a support group. There are hundreds of these available across the UK, usually within a couple of miles of most regions. This will benefit you socially & allow you to understand that others are going through similar situations as you & that you are not alone. Support groups have been shown to assist thousands of attendants overcome the effects of PTSD, by enabling the victim to freely talk about their feelings without fear of judgement. You can get recommendations for which group to attend from your GP, from online support groups or by mental health services such as Women’s Aid.
Pursuing activities such as joining a gym or going on a daily walk is growing in popularity for those who are trying to recover from trauma. This enables victims to escape the confinements of their home and allows them relieve stress through physical activity. People suffering should also try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet & ensure to get enough sleep, all whilst avoiding drugs & alcohol. The importance of living a healthy lifestyle is a significant factor for overcoming mental health troubles.
Relaxation is also key to overcoming stress & trauma. As a victim, you shouldn’t put any pressure on yourself to recover within any certain amount of time. You must allow your body to heal at its own pace & in order for it to do so, it’s important to learn how to relax. There are various relaxation techniques which can be taught; these can be taught by your GP or even via an online class.
In time, you should start to see progress which will be a big step towards recovery. Ensuring you are surrounded by the correct people is key for your progress; try to maintain relationships with your friends & talk to them about how you’re feeling, so that they can offer the best support they can.
How to Stop Flashbacks from Abuse
One of the most challenging symptoms of PTSD is flashbacks.
A Flashback is a completely normal reaction to trauma.
When having a flashback, it is important that you acknowledge this and remind yourself the traumatic event is over and that you survived.
You must breathe slowly & deeply. This increases the levels of oxygen within your body, helping you leave the state of panic.
Lastly, try to use your senses so you can gain a better understanding of where you are. What do your surrounds smell, look and feel like. This will enable you to realise that you are safe & help you to return to a calm state.