Category Archives: abuse

Sick System Identification

 

Often times  people who have experienced trauma and/or abuse get into predictable patterns.  After trauma the mind has to find a way to “become okay” with what has happened otherwise it will just shut down. Hence,the brain will  select, edit, and delete ideas and emotions as necessary to move forward.  From this perspective, it becomes clearer that they will associate interactions with other people in a similar way that they did during the negative experiences.  The mind wires together in a way that creates a system of unhealthy actions and response together with love and care. It is as if the mind got confused along the way (which it did typically based on the abusive situation) and started thinking that being in an interaction that is chaotic and/or manipulative is the way affection is shown.  The how and why this pattern was created makes sense _and_ being able to identify its parts is a crucial part to changing towards healthy dynamics.

There are many therapeutic approaches to working to shift these patterns, but I haven’t often seen a discussion of this within regular conversation. Issendai has thoughtfully expressed how the trauma mind-set can create relationships that are unhealthy. She puts a concrete perspective on what the attributes are that contribute to what she calls a _sick system_.  In reading her thoughts, I would ask you to remember that a person can both create these dynamics directly or respond to them..   One can see they have been in relationships where they were treated in a negatively manipulative way and/or understand they tend to create elements of this pattern in their life.  The point is to look at the patterns and work to shift them into something that is stronger and healthier.

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Sick Systems by Issendai

So you want to keep your lover or your employee close. Bound to you, even. You have a few options. You could be the best lover they’ve ever had, kind, charming, thoughtful, competent, witty, and a tiger in bed. You could be the best workplace they’ve ever had, with challenging work, rewards for talent, initiative, and professional development, an excellent work/life balance, and good pay. But both of those options demand a lot from you. Besides, your lover (or employee) will stay only as long as they want to under those systems, and you want to keep them even when they doesn’t want to stay. How do you pin them to your side, irrevocably and permanently.
You create a sick system.

A sick system has four basic rules:

Rule 1: Keep them too busy to think. Thinking is dangerous. If people can stop and think about their situation logically, they might realize how crazy things are.

Rule 2: Keep them tired. Exhaustion is the perfect defense against any good thinking that might slip through. Fixing the system requires change, and change requires effort, and effort requires energy that just isn’t there. No energy, and your lover’s dangerous epiphany is converted into nothing but a couple of boring fights.

This is also a corollary to keeping them too busy to think. Of course you can’t turn off anyone’s thought processes completely—but you can keep them too tired to do any original thinking. The decision center in the brain tires out just like a muscle, and when it’s exhausted, people start making certain predictable types of logic mistakes. Found a system based on those mistakes, and you’re golden.

Rule 3: Keep them emotionally involved. Make them love you if you can, or if you’re a company, foster a company culture of extreme loyalty. Otherwise, tie their success to yours, so if you do well, they do well, and if you fail, they fail. If you’re working in an industry where failure isn’t a possibility (the government, utilities), establish a status system where workers do better or worse based on seniority.

Also note that if you set up a system in which personal loyalty and devotion are proof of your lover’s worthiness as a person, you can make people love you. Or at least think they love you. In fact, any combination of intermittent rewards plus too much exhaustion to consider other alternatives will induce people to think they love you, even if they hate you as well.

Rule 4: Reward intermittently. Intermittent gratification is the most addictive kind there is. If you know the lever will always produce a pellet, you’ll push it only as often as you need a pellet. If you know it never produces a pellet, you’ll stop pushing. But if the lever sometimes produces a pellet and sometimes doesn’t, you’ll keep pushing forever, even if you have more than enough pellets (because what if there’s a dry run and you have no pellets at all?). It’s the motivation behind gambling, collectible cards, most video games, the Internet itself, and relationships with crazy people.

How do you do all this? It’s incredibly easy:

Keep the crises rolling. Incompetence is a great way to do this: If the office system routinely works badly or the controlling partner routinely makes major mistakes, you’re guaranteed ongoing crises. Poor money management works well, too. So does being in an industry where the clients are guaranteed to be volatile and flaky, or preferring friends who are themselves in perpetual crisis. You can also institutionalize regular crises: Workers in the Sea Org, the elite wing of Scientology, must exceed the previous week’s production every single week or face serious penalties. Because this is impossible, it guarantees regular crises as the deadline approaches.

Regular crises perform two functions: They keep people too busy to think, and they provide intermittent reinforcement. After all, sometimes you win—and when you’ve mostly lost, a taste of success is addictive.

But why wouldn’t people eventually realize that the crises are a permanent state of affairs? Because you’ve explained them away with an explanation that gives them hope.

Things will be better when… I get a new job. I’m mean to you now because I’m so stressed, but I’m sure that will go away when I’m not working at this awful place.

The production schedule is crazy because the client is nuts. We just need to get through this cycle, then we’ll have a new client, and they’ll be much better.

She has a bad temper because she just started with a new therapist. She’ll be better when she settles in.

Now, the first person isn’t actually looking for a job. (They’re too stressed to fill out applications.) The second industry always has another crazy client, because all the clients are crazy. (Or better yet, because the company is set up to destroy the workflow and make the client look crazy.) The third person has been with her “new” therapist for a year. (But not for three years! Or five!) But the explanation sounds plausible, and every now and then the person has a good day or a production cycle goes smoothly. Intermittent reinforcement + hope = “Someday it will always be like this.” Perpetual crises mean the person is too tired to notice that it has never been like this for long.

Keep real rewards distant. The rewards in “Things will be better when…” are usually nonrewards—things will go back to being what they should be when the magical thing happens. Real rewards—happiness, prosperity, career advancement, a new house, children—are far in the distance. They look like they’re on the schedule, but there’s nothing in the To Do column. For example, everything will be better when we move to our own house in the country… but there’s nothing in savings for the house, no plan to save, no house picked out, not even a region of the country settled upon. Or everything will be better when she gets a new job, but she’s not applying anywhere, she’s not checking the classifieds, she has no skills that would get her a new job, she has no concrete plans to learn skills, and she doesn’t know what type of new job she wants to take. Companies have a harder time holding out on rewards, but endlessly delayed raises and promotions, workplace upgrades that are talked about but never get enough budget, and training programs that are canceled for lack of money work well.

Establish one small semi-occasional success. This should be a daily task with a stake attached and a variable chance of success. For example, you need to take your meds at just the right time. Too early and you’re logy the next morning and late to work, too late and you’re insomniac and keep your partner up until you go to sleep, too anything and you develop nausea that interrupts your meal schedule and sets your precariously balanced blood sugar to swinging, sparking tantrums and weeping fits. It’s your partner’s job to get you to take your meds at just the right time. Each time she finds an ideal time, it becomes a point of contention—you’re always busy at that time, or you’re not at home, or you eat too early or too late so the ideal time shifts or vanishes entirely. But every so often you take your meds at just the right time and everything works perfectly, and then your partner gets a jolt of success and the hope that you’ve reached a turning point.

Chop up their time. Perpetually interrupt them with meetings, visits from supervisors, bells and whistles and time clocks and hourly deadlines. Or if you’re partners, be glued to them at the hip, demand their attention at short intervals throughout the day (and make it clear that they aren’t allowed to do the same with you), establish certain essential tasks that you won’t do and then demand that they do them for you, establish certain essential tasks that they aren’t allowed to do for themselves and demand that they rely on you to do it for them (and then do it slowly or badly or on your own schedule). Make sure they have barely enough time to manage both the crisis of the moment and the task of the moment; and if you can’t tire them out physically, drain them emotionally.

Enmesh your success with theirs. Company towns are great at this. Everything, from the workers’ personal social standing to the selection of groceries at the store, depends upon how well they do their jobs and how well the company as a whole is doing. Less enveloping companies try to tie their workers’ self-perceptions in with the public’s perception of their brand. People do it by entangling their successes and failures with their partners’, even when they shouldn’t be entangled. A full-grown adult should be able to take his meds without his partner’s help, and there’s only so much anyone can do to make someone eat at the right time and swallow their pills, but he still puts the responsibility for managing his meds squarely on her shoulders. The classic maneuver is to blame all your bad moods on your partner: If they weren’t so _______ or if they did ______ right, you wouldn’t be so stressed/angry/foul-tempered.

Keep everything on the edge. Make sure there’s never quite enough money, or time, or goods, or status, or anything else people might want. Insufficiency makes sick systems self-perpetuating, because if there’s never enough ______ to fix the system, and never enough time to think of a better solution, everyone has to work on all six cylinders just to keep the system from collapsing.

All of these things work together to make a workplace or a  relationship addictive. You’re run off your feet putting out fires and keeping things going, your own world will collapse if you stop, and every so often you succeed for a moment and create something bigger than yourself. Things will get better soon. You can’t stop believing that. If you stop believing, you won’t be able to go on, and you can’t not go on because everything you have and everything you are is tied into making this thing work. You can’t see any way out because there are always all these things stopping you, and you could try this thing but that would take time and money, and you don’t have either, and you’ve been told that you’ll get both eventually when that other thing happens, and pushing won’t make that thing happen so it’s better to keep your head down and wait. After a while the stress and panic feel normal, so when you’re not riding the edge, you feel twitchy because you know that the lull doesn’t mean things are better, it means you’re not aware yet of what’s going wrong. And the system or the partner always, always obliges with a new crisis.

Eventually you’re so crazy that you can’t interact with anyone who isn’t equally crazy. Normal people have either fled, or told you once too often that you’re being stupid and you need to leave. So now you’ve lost all your reality checks. You’re surrounded by people who also live in the crazy and can’t see a way out. You spend your time telling one another that it’s too bad, but that’s how it is, there’s no fixing it, and everything will get better when ______ happens. If anyone does get a little better and says, “Hey, guys, this is crazy, we can all stop now,” they’ve become a stuck cog in the machine. They quickly realize that there’s nothing they can do, and they pull out, leaving you alone with your crazy friends.

Finally you think it’s ordinary.

You fantasize about being suicidal enough to kill yourself. But that’s not all that bad, because you don’t think that way all the time, and you’re not actually trying to kill yourself. You just wish something would come along and make you dead.

One day you hit rock bottom. Maybe you want so badly to die that stepping out of the sick system looks like a good way to commit suicide, or maybe you’re so depressed that you no longer care. Maybe you catch on before then, and realize, as you’re standing there with the pill in your hand and your partner too busy on WoW to swallow it, that this is crazier than crazy and it’s time to make it stop. Maybe the system makes a mistake, and you look at the pattern of people who got promotions and realize that you will never, never qualify for your promised promotion.

Or maybe a door opens, and something magical happens. The position you’ve dreamed of opens up. The school you want to go to offers a new scholarship for people just like you—and the person who runs the scholarship tells you confidentially that with your qualifications, you’re a shoo-in. Your granduncle dies and leaves you $100,000. You can have exactly what you want—if you walk away from the system you’re enmeshed in.

If you step away, two things happen, one after the other:

PANIC! HORROR! THE SKY IS FALLING! I’VE LOST EVERYTHING I EVER HAD AND I’LL NEVER GET IT BACK AGAIN! There’s not enough stress, something is wrong, something horrible is happening and I’m not there stopping it, oh god what is my ex-boyfriend doing and can I save him from a safe distance? I’m responsible! I have to call the office and make sure they’re okay! I have to make sure everything I left was okay, because it would all fall down without me and now I’m not there and it’s falling down and all those innocent people are being hurt and I have to stop it!

…I feel so much better now.

It’s all gone, like someone stopped pounding me in the head with a hammer. I didn’t even know the hammer was there. Why did I let someone pound me in a hammer all that time? What in hell was I thinking? Why did I think any of that made sense?

Once you’re out of the system, it makes no sense at all. None of the carrots they dangled before you mean anything, and you start to truly comprehend just how much stress you were under. You see things you never would have believed while you were in the system. And the relief is greater than you ever could have imagined while you were enmeshed.

flowers

Dealing with Past Trauma Triggers

It is rough going for many of us that have had past trauma in our lives.  You spend so much time wishing that your past was something different… you try to push it down…. out run the fears…. change your patterns… get help… and yet… there you are TRIGGERED once again.

We all want the pain to end.  We all want to just heal and be strong and not have to deal with the crap any more.  And the truth is… well… the truth is not easy … because the truth is that triggers are still going to happen.  I know, you don’t want to hear this but take it from one who knows… you will be all the better if you realize that while the trauma was not in your control… the way you use the past can help you today.

Let’s get real for a moment about trauma… shall we? The pain and hurt triggers are there for a reason. They are there to tell us that things were not right.  It is our personal indicator that what happened (or is happening) isn’t good for us.  Without this response, we  probably wouldn’t be here today. We would just push on no matter the pain to our detriment.

So once you have space from the trauma … you want it to be done and gone. There is nothing wrong with this desire. It is real and important. However, without dealing with the emotions of what happened (this does not mean you have to focus on the details of the events) your brain will probably repeat the process in other relationships. Your brain learned a specific way to interpret being cared for… and if it is crisscrossed with trauma, your brain naturally is confused.  If you don’t take the time to untangle the messages your brain understands as fear, pain, caring, and safety… you will probably also have really strong reactions to experiences that wouldn’t call for such a drastic response.

You realize all this… you go into therapy and you find you get stronger and heal a bunch. All good… right?  Yes… all good… AND the unspoken reality is even with growth and therapy and healing … your brain is going to be scared in certain situation. You can breathe through, do things in the moment to change the details, but the pain/fear is real.  I could claim that it will all go away forever with time, pop psyche would love to have you believe that, but I just haven’t ever seen that in reality.

What is real is that you were deeply hurt, you are dealing with it, it diminishes, AND the residue of the trauma will always be a part of you.  However, you ability to change your life, take that past pain and create a more secure and stable environment is just as real. There is something deeply powerful about knowing that you are moving beyond what was done _to_ you and instead are creating a life _for_ you!

Yes, you might be in the kitchen learning to cook something new… and all of a sudden you realize that you are terrified of what the outcome will be … not because of anything currently happening… but instead based on the trauma of the past… and you want to cry and run away.  Instead… you breathe through…. you gather yourself together…. you remember that this is now and not the past… you deeply sigh and wish this wasn’t all still a part of your… AND then … you start to LIVE your life again…by stirring the ingredients and becoming present to what you are doing.   Yep, you just experienced a trigger and didn’t allow the past to keep you hostage… but rather found the freedom of moving forward.  Congrats… you just took control!

Why do they stay …

I was recently reading an amazing post by hilzoy on the topic of why people might stay in a relationship that is abusive. There are so many factors that contribute to this choice, however they are often from a point of view that feels dis-empowering to the person being abused. While there are many valid arguments as to why someone would stay, this is one that explains in real-people-terms why even someone that is smart and rational would continue on even after the first time abuse happens.

If you are in a situation where you need help, support, or information regarding an abusive situation, please call. You will not be judged but rather encouraged to find solutions that work for you.

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In a post on a book about a violent relationship, Linda Hirshman writes:

“It is difficult to understand why she stayed in this awful relationship, given that she was not risking starvation and had no children with her abuser.”

I worked in a battered women’s shelter for five years, four as a volunteer, and one as a full-time staffer, so I might be able to answer this question. Obviously, this will be too general: people stay for lots of reasons. But generalizations might be better than nothing. I will also refer to abusers as ‘he’, and to their victims as ‘she'; this is accurate in the overwhelming majority of cases. (JSJ Therapy acknowledges that anyone can be abused and actively works to support all persons within situations, that they would like to change.)

In some cases, understanding why someone stays is easy. A lot of women are afraid that their abuser would try to harm them if they leave.  Staying in a case like this, at least until you had figured out how to leave safely and cover your tracks, is not mysterious or perplexing.

Moreover, while I think the assumption that battered women stay because they are just dumb, or have staggeringly bad judgment, is wrong and insulting, there are a whole lot of battered women, and it would be very surprising if none of them stayed for such reasons. We asked women who came to our shelter when the abuse had started; one woman told me that her husband had thrown her from a moving car on their first date, at which point I wondered silently why on earth there had been a second date, let alone a subsequent marriage. But in my experience such women were a vanishingly small minority.

What is hard to understand, I take it, is why women who do not have obviously bad judgment, and who do not take themselves to be in serious danger if they leave, stay anyways. So I turn to them.

To start with, it helps to know that (last time I checked) the two most common times for violence to start were the honeymoon and the first pregnancy. By the time you reach either point, you’re already in a pretty serious relationship, and leaving is not something that anyone would do lightly.

Moreover, the violence often comes as a real surprise. It’s not that there aren’t signs: there are. But they are often things like: he falls for you too hard and too fast, or: he wants to be with you all the time. You’d have to be either paranoid or a victim of a previous abusive relationship to leap to the conclusion that either of these things means that abuse might be in your future. (Imagine, in particular, someone whose last relationship was with someone who didn’t seem to care about her: imagine her saying to herself: last time he didn’t care enough; this time he seems to care too much; am I impossible to please?)

So imagine yourself, in love with someone, on your honeymoon or pregnant, when suddenly this guy just goes ballistic, often for very little reason, and hits you. For a lot of women, this is profoundly shocking and disorienting. There are things that are comprehensible parts of the world, even if they’re rare, like having your car stolen; and then there are things that are unexpected in a completely different sense, like having your car turn into an elephant before your eyes: things that make you wonder whether you’re completely crazy. Being beaten up by someone who apparently loves you is one of those things.

What this means is that precisely when a woman needs as much confidence in her own judgment as she can muster, the rug is completely pulled out from under her. And it’s not just that she questions her judgment because she got involved with this guy in the first place; she questions her judgment because something so completely alien to the world she thinks she knows has just happened.

Under the circumstances, it is very, very hard to say: well, OK, I am married and/or pregnant, I am in this serious relationship,  but I will nonetheless decide to leave, now, because I think I have to, and I trust my judgment. Trusting your judgment at that moment is like trusting your sense of balance when someone has just poured a fifth of vodka down your throat.

Besides that, there’s also the Jekyll/Hyde phenomenon. If I had a nickel for every woman who has said to me, “It’s like he was two people! Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!, I’d be a wealthy woman today. When I first heard this, I didn’t entirely believe it.

Then I encountered Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde myself. One fine evening, a guy I was involved with, a guy who was normally kind and decent and funny, suddenly went nuts. He started accusing me of all sorts of that were truly insane. (You’ll have to trust me on this one: things that there was no reason in our relationship or my character for him to suspect me of, not a scintilla of evidence to support, and that would have been wildly implausible about anyone.) He followed me around the house, screaming and screaming, for about ten hours. (You might wonder, why didn’t I leave the house? Answer: it was on the outskirts of Ankara, at night, and there was nowhere to go and no public transportation.)

In the morning I left to walk around and try to figure out what had happened, in the kind of absolute daze I described above. When I came back, he was appalled by what he had done, and not in the “I am beating up on myself” way I had always imagined, but in the way a normal person would be, if a normal person had somehow done something like this. It was completely baffling. It really was as though he was two people.

I did not leave then. He did it again four days later. After that I thought: right. It is conceivable to me that someone might do this once. But if he felt the way he seemed to afterwards, then having done it, nothing like that would happen again for, oh, at least several decades. The fact that it happened again four days later means that something is going on. I flew home shortly thereafter.

But consider my advantages. While I have the usual run of horrid insecurities, underneath it all I am reasonably self-confident. Nothing in my background or upbringing would in any way make it hard for me to leave. I’m a feminist. Moreover, at this point I had been working in battered women’s shelters for several years. That was crucial: I knew that this was emotional abuse, in a pretty strict sense of that term, and that that meant that it was very, very unlikely to change. I was, therefore, not inclined to second-guess myself, and that was immensely important.

With all that, I did not leave the first time.

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Imagine someone who stays longer. The longer you stay, the more your confidence and your self-respect are undermined. The first time often comes out of the blue, but it is normally the beginning of a cycle, not a one-time episode. And more or less everything about this cycle is absolutely corrosive to a woman’s self-respect.

Beating someone up is, obviously, itself a gesture of immense disrespect. But there’s generally also verbal abuse: battered women are often told, repeatedly, that no one should listen to them, that they’re ugly, stupid, hateful, bitchy, and in all sorts of ways worthless.

As I said, it’s corrosive. The longer you stay, the worse it gets. And since, as before, the capacity that is under attack is the very one you need in order to get out, this makes it harder and harder to leave. And, of course, the longer you stay, the dumber you feel about staying.

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There are several more things, though. First, abusers often isolate their victims. At first this can take an apparently benign form: he wants to be with you all the time; he wants to envelop you in a kind of cocoon; there isn’t time for other things. Later, it’s a lot less pleasant. Women who stay often try to keep the peace, and one way to do that is not to insist on seeing your friends and family. That, of course, makes turning to your friends and family a lot tougher later on.

Second, it would be a lot easier if abusers were sneering villains. But they are not. They are often charming on the outside. More importantly, they are often in genuine psychological distress. It often seems like a combination of two things: first, feeling as though if their wife left them, some truly terrifying abyss would open up in their minds and they would fall down into the darkness forever, and second, thinking that to prevent this, they need to keep her from leaving, to control her.

In my judgment, when abusers say things like: I need you, I’d be lost without you, I’d die if you left, many of them are not just kidding or being manipulative. They are serious, and they are often right. If you love someone who is in genuine distress, you normally don’t want to make things worse for them. And that’s what leaving looks like, up until the moment when you say to yourself: he will not change, at least not while he’s involved with me; this will not get better; and that being the case, I am not helping him by staying.

At that point, you can think of leaving as helping him. Until then, it looks like kicking someone you love when he’s down. Your husband or lover is in pain; he needs you; and you are going to leave. For some people, it’s easier to take sacrifices on themselves than to inflict them on others, especially others they love. That is not the worst kind of person to be. But it makes it much, much harder to walk out the door.

Again, consider the example of me. I was not beaten up, and the emotional abuse did not last long before I left. Moreover, I had no doubt at all that I was right to leave, nor was I particularly confused about whose fault this was. But despite knowing perfectly well that I had not done anything wrong, I felt horribly guilty for several months afterwards. It was the oddest thing: emotions that I knew were just completely misguided, but that were, apparently, settling in for the long haul. Getting over it was very tough. I don’t want to imagine what it would have been like if I had not known that I had done the right thing when I left.

I came into this with every advantage in the world. I left quickly. I got off easy. But for all that, it was very, very hard.

How to get over past sexual abuse

Working with clients that have experienced sexual abuse is a powerful process.  I have witnessed time and time again the ability of the human spirit to overcome fear, pain, and negative patterns.  There is a moment with each client where they internally begin to understand their worth and their view of the world begins to change.

So what is it like to go into therapy for dealing with sexual abuse? Well, it is scary. Very very scary. However, as cliche as it sounds it is usually the first session that is truly the hardest. It requires a great amount of strength to contact a therapist AND show up knowing that you are there with the intent to talk about that which altered your life so intensely.

Here is the truth. You were abused. You are afraid. You are angry. You are hurt. You don’t like yourself and you want to change that.  The other truth is that you are unsure as to what therapy will do for you or to you.

You have fears of what will be discussed, what will not be discussed, will you freak out, will you die, will you cry and never be able to stop, will you hate yourself, hate your abuser, are you a liar, are you crazy, did you make all this up, will you ever get past this, will you repeat the pattern, what will happen to your day to day life, how will you cope, what if there is more, what if you can’t remember, maybe it wasn’t that bad, what if I am making a big deal out of nothing, what if you can’t push away the fears, how will you move forward, who will you be, who are you, what if your relationships change, what if you lose everyone, what if you have to do something you don’t want to, what if no one believes you, what if everyone leaves you, what if … what will… how do.. ? The list goes on and on and on.

Let’s get down to the concretes of what actually happens in therapy when dealing with sexual abuse. The client comes in and we talk about the process of abuse therapy and healing. We talk about the fears AROUND talking about the abuse. We talk about expectations and goals of what the client would like from therapy. We look at what specific changes the client will see from themselves as they feel they are moving forward and healing from therapy.

There is usually very little talk directly about what happened specifically. The client is welcomed (but itis based on their own comfort level they do not have to) share who their abuser(s) were and generally what happened afterwards in their life.  The client is asked about who knows (if anyone) about the abuse and how those people reacted. There are questions about the client’s own feelings/beliefs about the abuse.  And then usually I give the clients some basic readings on people that have experienced past sexual abuse. Finally I encourage them to contact me between sessions if they feel intense emotions based on anything we talked about or anything that comes up. This is an important step so that clients feel that they are not alone in the begininging  steps of healing.

The following sessions weave in and out of abuse. I personally have experienced therapy where either there was too much direct talk about the abuse or too much out the outside. Neither approach worked to help me deal with the thoughts/memories/pain  AND the real life expectations and patterns of the abuse.  So I have created  a method that allows us together to talk about specifics, deal with the anxiety of what bringing these topics is like and the consequences, as well as not spending too much focused time as to make the client feel they are trapped. There is discussion about current relationships, current self esteem, and current needs for boundaries.  This provides a constant balance of dealing with the past trauma as well as the current reality of life and the future of positive patterns.

The nuts and bolts of the discussions of the past abuse vary from clients to clients. Some people need to talk about a certain abuser but not others, some people need to confront their abuser and some do not, some people need to share with others and some do not, some people need to work on anger and some do not, some need to work on sexual difficulties and some do not. These are only a few of the person-centered approach that is needed.

The basics are the same: dealing with the abuse is a process that requires truth, strength, and support.  How we directly go about this requies the client to be willing to re-learn the truth process with a therapist like myself one step at a time.  In my opinion abuse is not something you get over it is something that is always a part of you. It is not something that can change. However, what you do with that past and how it impacts your daily life and future choices is something that you are very able to change.

After years of working with survivors this much I know … that you are stronger than you think. You are still here, you are reading this, and you wanting to change. This is proof that you are able to take on the demons and win! Please call or email me if you want support in regaining control of your life!