An Experience of Feeling Helpless and Overwhelmed
The Impact of Unresolved Trauma
Unresolved trauma is probably both the most important and the most misunderstood aspect of your personal history. A traumatic event can be a single incident, or something that happened repeatedly or over a long period of time. It is an individual's experience of being helpless and overwhelmed by a situation that determines if it will be perceived, consciously or unconsciously, as a trauma. EMDR treatment is a psychotherapeutic method that has been clinically shown to reduce the distress of traumatic events.
Hurtful Interpersonal Relationships
Unlike accidents, natural disasters, deaths, and war ... abuse is a term that is used to describe hurtful interpersonal behavior that is intentional or neglectful. Even so-called "normal" experiences can have a debilitating effect. Anyone who is regularly shamed, belittled, humiliated, intimidated or sexually harassed, or whose efforts are met with disrespect or harsh judgment, may be a victim of emotional (psychological and mental) abuse. A common misconception is that an event must involve death or violence to have a significant impact, but many survivors of physical violence say the emotional abuse has far more devastating impact.
Many abusive behaviors that were once socially acceptable in the home and the workplace are now recognized as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. In recent years, many laws and regulations aimed at reducing physical and emotional violence have been put into place at home and in the workplace. For example changes have been made involving child abuse, sexual abuse, marital rape, date rape, stalking, harassment and discrimination. And, after the tragic killings in Columbine, the deadly impact of ignoring vicious bullying in schools has become a concern for many.
"Crazymaking" and Passive Aggression
What makes something traumatic to the recipient is that it damages one's health, self-esteem, safety, sanity, intimacy or personal effectiveness. Unlike many traumatic experiences, passive aggression is a type of emotional abuse that is not so easily perceived ~ it can be subtle, very confusing and generally hotly denied by the person acting it out. It is sometimes referred to as “crazymaking” because it is so damaging to the victim’s sense of reality testing.
As is true for most experiences of abuse, the person acting out an abuse can be very conscious of the harm they are doing, or quite unconscious! However, regardless of the intent of the person acting out the abuse, the damage occurs because the victim is experiencing a sense of helplessness to control their emotional and mental safety. The victim's experience of intense helplessness is followed by disruption in the brain.
In an attempt to control their environment, a victim of trauma, who has been left with ongoing anxiety, typically will act out some form of self-abuse or abuse towards others (a more complex form of self-abuse). A victim who continues to be victimized, or who is now a victimizer, is seldom able to make the necessary changes on his or her own without trustworthy help. A commitment to change and the willingness to learn new coping skills are essential to creating a better life.
We invite you to explore this site and learn more about how unresolved issues from your past and present may keep you from enjoying success and happiness now, and in the future. We trust you will be pleased with the compassionate and effective care offered by our therapists.
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More Information About Trauma and Abuse
Types: What are the types of traumas and abuses?
Symptoms: What are the symptoms of trauma and abuse?
Grief: What about "normal grief and loss?
Trauma and Abuse: Resources and Links