In this article I will describe emotional abuse as a type of complex trauma. I would explain what it is and briefly how it can happen. I would also explain complex trauma, which can result from emotional abuse and neglect. Through trauma therapy I work to support clients that have experienced this. I would also address how I do that later in this blog.
When we think of Trauma, we often consider major incidences such as a car accident, natural disasters, being a prisoner of war etc. When we are looking at childhood trauma, for some children their experiences were complex. This is because they have had to endure not just one thing at one time but many things, repeated over a long period of time for which they had no escape or refuge.
Complex trauma is the consequence of long periods of chronic repetitive trauma at a particular delicate time of a child’s life. Usually from birth to about three years old. Also, this type of trauma is relational. Usually with the Childs parents, whether they are around or not.
It is not also just the result of the extreme types of abuse that we know. There are many other forms of abuse such as emotional abuse, neglect and spiritual that will cause it.
Emotional Abuse is sometimes called psychological abuse but can still damage your health and well-being as a child. Also, there is usually an element of emotional abuse in all types of abuse, that’s why it can be difficult to spot or to separate.
This is some of what a child may experience when being emotionally abused:
- Made to feel like they are insignificant in comparison to the rest of their siblings or family members
- Made to feel frightened of their parents
- May to feel frightened of life unnecessarily i.e. being overprotected and smothered
- Having favourites in their family
- Being teased by their parents even when they don’t find it funny
- Being made to feel ashamed even when “you’re just being a child” i.e being told off for bed wetting at 3 years old.
- Shamed but not guided. Shamed is where you are told or showed that you are a “bad child”. Not that what you’ve done is wrong, but you are wrong
- Being made to grow up before your time
- Being made to do more than your fair share of adult things
- Manipulated to the extent that you think you question your own sanity
- Experiencing humiliation from your family members
- Being bullied from your siblings and your parents actively encouraging or doing nothing about it
- not taking your own individuality into consideration in other words you are shaped into your parents own image
- Not recognising that you have limitations, and you feel you are pushed beyond what you can cope with
- Being exposed to distressing interactions or events such as violence, substance misuse.
- Being sent to Coventry – being ignored
- Constantly being unkind, never having positive feelings expressed or being congratulated
- Not being allowed to show emotions or express emotions
- Not given enough to eat. Being left dirty without proper clothing, shelter or medical assistance.
- Exposing you to substance misuse
- Having to live with a parent with untreated mental health issues.
- Using religious beliefs to control, manipulate and to instil fear
- Spiritually needs neglected and ignored
How Trauma can affect you
With all these experiences, here are some the ways these traumas might affect you:
- Difficulties with relationships having relationship issues
- Physical health problems i.e. chronic headaches, stomach problems, chronic pain etc.
- Struggle to control your emotions
- Feeling different to everyone else
- Feeling totally lonely and isolated even if you are surround by people
- Often feeling having suicidal thoughts
- Preoccupation with the person that abused you (or the total opposite)
- Feeling that you are worthless and hopeless
- Thinking that no one could understand what you went through
- Never feeling good enough and what ever you do is not enough
- Having imposter syndrome
How I work
In order for me to help you, I need to get to know you and you to get to know yourself as well. Part of my work with you will be Life Mapping work. Life mapping work (from the Reach Approach) is a structured way of understanding your life history.
“The more we run away from the truth about ourselves the more the parts of our personality that are self-limiting and destructive remain hidden, doing untold damage in the process.”
I start by asking you to compile, in whatever format you choose what happened to you, your life experiences and family life etc. This will be done in stages of different age group. For example, I start with what happened to you aged 0 – 5 then 5 – 10 etc.
Don’t worry if you can’t remember much, particularly the 0 – 5 stage, we can use photos and other sources of information.
It isn’t about staying in the past, it’s about learning from it.
Integral to this, we would look at your self-care and work through strategies that will help you change your view of yourself.
This is not a one size fits all approach as we are all different but the overall structure be the same.
All I know is that doing this, your life will be for the better. Stick with it and you won’t regret it no matter how painful the process may be at times.
What if I would find this hard?
I understand that this could be difficult going into your past, but we will only do this at your pace. I will also never ask you to disclose anything you are not ready to talk about.
I will also, during this time, try to encourage some coping and self-care skills. I believe that the more you are taking care of yourself when going through this process, the better you will cope with it.
You can do this
At your pace
If you wish to talk further with about this type of therapy with me, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I offer a free 15 minute, no obligation session over the phone, text or email.
I am a Therapist based in Sutton Coldfield, UK also available online.
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