Ever wonder why you feel so sensitive? Why even the littlest thing sends you off on an emotional roller coaster? It may have something to do with how you grew up.
"Good morning, how are you?"
"Doing great, thanks! And you?"
It's our ritual. Say good morning, reply that everything is great and keep on moving. But is it really? When someone asks how you are doing, do they really want to know? Do you want to tell them?
You are not alone.
Healing from sexual abuse and rape requires working with every part of the trauma experience - instinct, emotion, images, and thoughts.When faced with a life threatening experience, primitive instincts kick in - fight, flight, freeze, submit (see part 1 and part 2 of this blog). These instincts help you survive the encounter, but leave evidence behind in the form of body memories. The cortisol response that was triggered by the original trauma, can be re-triggered any time. That means that if you see a person that reminds you of the perpetrator or smell something you smelled at that time, for example, your body will involuntarily release loads of cortisol and it will feel like you're right back in the moment the trauma occurred. The Thinking Brain knows that you are in the present time, but the Reptilian Brain (instinct) and Old Mammalian Brain (images and emotions) are telling you otherwise. Effective treatment for PTSD and sexual abuse involves all three parts of the brain.
You aren't broken.
Trauma and complex PTSD caused by sexual abuse and rape are underdiagnosed and often misdiagnosed as something else. That's because trauma from years ago can cause so many different problems in adult life, referred to as "symptoms", which don't always fit neatly into a diagnostic box. It has been estimated that of people who seek treatment for mental health problems, as many of 90% have an underlying trauma.
"Just get over it." It's one of the worst things someone can say to a survivors of sexual abuse or rape. And yet how many times have you heard those words? Trauma sticks in the brain and the body and it doesn't just go away. You can push it down and choose not to think about it, but it comes up in your life in unexpected ways and can destroy happiness.