Post Traumatic Stress is far from an unusual experience for those of us who have been through significant and protracted abuse. It seems to matter little whether the abuse was physical, or emotional/psychological, or a mixture of both. Psychic trauma is every bit as devastating as physical trauma, and for those who have experienced both, the effects of the former often outlast and outweigh the effects of the latter. Recovery is laborious when you’ve been at war with a phantom; a poltergeist that wrecked your world while no one else watched. Yet there is scant recognition of this very real phenomenon experienced by targets of verbal and emotional abuse, even among psychologists and counselors with years of experience under their belts.
Let’s take a brief look at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can develop following any traumatic event or series of events that threatens your safety or makes you feel helpless. If these events are unpredictable and not under your control, as happens when you live with an abuser, you will also experience the loss of hope. It may take months or years to develop into full-blown PTSD, particularly if the abuse is covert, ie not physical, and escalates over time. (And abuse always get worse over time.) Continue reading