PTSD from Emotional Abuse

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is mostly associated with soldiers returning from war. After the horrors witnessed in such an unnatural setting, many wo/men have a difficult time returning to “normal” life, often suffering from flashbacks, panic attacks, and severe anxiety.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (or Reaction) are not typical responses to prolonged abuse. They are the outcomes of sudden exposure to severe or extreme stressors (stressful events). Yet, some victims whose life or body have been directly and unequivocally threatened by an abuser react by developing these syndromes. PTSD is, therefore, typically associated with the aftermath of physical and sexual abuse in both children and adults. (Source)

Any traumatic event can trigger it. Rape, assault, acts of physical or verbal violence, even repeated emotional abuse or the sudden split of a significant relationship, especially if abuse was involved.

Repeated abuse has long lasting pernicious and traumatic effects such as panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks (intrusive memories), suicidal ideation, and psychosomatic symptoms. The victims experience shame, depression, anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, abandonment, and an enhanced sense of vulnerability. (Source)

I’m rather ashamed to admit that I’ve experienced them all. These last few weeks have made me realize just how deep the auctioneer traumatized me. It was my husband who noticed, actually. He said that I was exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, and he was right. How embarrassing to be experiencing PTSD because of such a short-lived relationship.

But there it is.

However, this reaction doesn’t reflect me or my ability to cope as much as it speaks to the depth of the abuse. The depth of the trauma caused by covert emotional, cruel verbal, and even borderline sexual abuse, not to mention the sudden change in his personality and subsequent abandonment.

The first phase of PTSD involves incapacitating and overwhelming fear. The victim feels like she has been thrust into a nightmare or a horror movie. She is rendered helpless by her own terror. She keeps re-living the experience through recurrent and intrusive visual and auditory hallucinations (“flashbacks”) or dreams. In some flashbacks, the victim completely lapses into a dissociative state and physically re-enacts the event while being thoroughly oblivious to her whereabouts.

In an attempt to suppress this constant playback and the attendant exaggerated startle response (jumpiness), the victim tries to avoid all stimuli associated, however indirectly, with the traumatic event. Many develop full-scale phobias (agoraphobia, claustrophobia, fear of heights, aversion to specific animals, objects, modes of transportation, neighbourhoods, buildings, occupations, weather, and so on).

My fear has been so great, that an email from him throws me into a panic attack, knowing that it just contains more pain. I don’t read them when they come in. In fact, I no longer know if they do or not, thanks to email filters that just delete them before I even see them.

Thank goodness for technology.

Emotional abuse, like gaslighting as well as so many other insidious forms, is hard to recognize and even harder to prove. Often, the only indication that your partner is causing emotional damage is to trust yourself and how you feel.

  • Are you asking yourself if you’re crazy?
  • Are you questioning reality?
  • Do you feel blamed for everything in the relationship?
  • Do you feel unsafe to talk with your partner about anything?/li>

Remember…is s/he charming? That is a huge red flag and a sign of an emotional predator. Certainly not all charming people are predators or abusive, but it is something of which to take note, especially if they are particularly charming. Please, please look closer, or perhaps, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Find out about their past relationships. How many? How did they end? Do they take responsibility for their actions? Their words? Are they relatively consistent in their words/actions?

#1 indication: They don’t take responsibility for their actions.

Please read these links on Emotional & Sexual Abuse and learn to recognize the signs early so you can get out before you fall in love. Sometimes the signs are so subtle you miss them. We must learn to protect ourselves and strengthen our armor against this insidious slings and arrows.

Please believe me when I say that these actions are insidious. I mean it. They are so subtle and often covered up by grand gestures of love and excessive affection. Sexual ecstasy and talking of how special you are mixed with the depth of connection & intimacy. It is very intoxicating and convincing, but beneath it all there might be a constant assault on your sense of self through gaslighting and other forms of covert abuse.

The first step is recognizing abuse as abuse. One very surprising thing I learned about myself over the past few weeks is that some types of emotional abuse feel like love to me. Another reason the trauma is so deep: it’s not just the damage from the auctioneer, but it is unhealed damage from a lifetime of emotional and sexual abuse. So many people don’t even know what a healthy relationship looks like because most of what they know has been dysfunctional.

Research PTSD and Emotional Abuse. If you are exhibiting any of the signs, you might be trapped in a betrayal or trauma bond with the abuser. This makes it even harder to get away and heal.

Let us all learn how to protect ourselves from such people, for in this society, there is no other recourse. No way to prove it. No way to make them accountable for the damage they cause. Our only hope of defense against this type of abuse is to recognize the danger early, reinforce our armor, and get away before a trauma bond can be created.

In solidarity…

-_Q

**update 7/25/12** It has since become clear that it wasn’t borderline sexual abuse. It was sexual abuse and even sexual assault that last week, which does explain the depth of PTSD, although emotional abuse alone can cause PTSD, as emotional abuse can do enough damage on its own. Plus, the worst, long-lasting effects of any physical, verbal, or sexual abuse/assault is the emotional and psychological damage. May you all find peace.
**update 1/27/13**I’ve now been through six months of intense rape recovery therapy since the above update, and I’ve learned a lot more about PTSD. Become familiar with terms like flashback, dissociative state, cognitive dissonance, depersonalization, hyper-vigilance, etc. These are all symptoms of serious PTSD. I’ve learned that I have chronic PTSD from a lifetime of abuse that I didn’t consciously recognize as abuse, as it’s been systematically normalized by family and society, in many cases. Chronic PTSD leaves a person very vulnerable to further abuse and assaults. Please seek out a licensed therapist who can help you work through your PTSD and break that Betrayal Bond, if you’re still trapped with your abuser.
You can follow my journey with the links from the post called Polyamory Podcast Hiatus, also anything with the tag “austin poly rapist.” It’s an interesting one, and it might be helpful to you, reader, as it shows how one is in so much denial at first because of the shock, and how, if you commit to healing, you can uncover some pretty horrific things and extensive PTSD. Still, I’d rather know, accept, and heal than to fall into the same trap with another predator.
About these ads

~ by omgrey on April 16, 2012.

102 Responses to “PTSD from Emotional Abuse”

  1. I wish I had heard these words 30 years ago. I might have been able to break free and not be the wreck I am today. Of course I would have fallen hopelessly in love with you, but that’s beside the point. I grew up in a toxic emotional environment. My family was not just dysfunctional, it was totally broken and no way to fix it. Generations of abuse got heaped upon me and my sister, because it had been heaped upon our parents. Even when they knew better, they didn’t stop. I think they couldn’t. It was like they didn’t care who they hurt anymore. They abused us and each other. It was all very sick.

    However, I have been diagnosed and I am getting help. the healing is slow and often fraught with more tragedies that make it hard to healing slow if not stop.

    I am so glad you have started to discuss this. I hope to see more of it.

    BIG HUGS

    Clint

    • Hugs back to you, Clint.

      The healing is slow, but it’s not too late by any means. Even 30 yrs later.

      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so pleased you find the blog helpful. Hearing that is more helpful to me than I could ever express.

      Peace.

  2. I was diagnosed with PTSD after a relationship about 5 years ago. By the time it ended, my ex had convinced me that I was completely nuts and incapable of being happy. As it turned out, all I needed was decent medication, good friends, and a significant other who actually cared about me and didn’t try to gaslight me at every opportunity. I can only offer you hugs and sympathy. Most people who suffer through this kind of trauma and aftermath, however, do it alone, so you are lucky to have your husband to lean on. The healing, however, you will have to do yourself, and it will come with time. I’m still, 5 years later, reluctant to run into my ex or his wife (who was as much to blame for my trauma as he was), but I no longer obsess about it or elect to stay home from events where I might run into them. That’s progress.

    • That is progress.

      I am very lucky for the support of my husband, friends, and readers. Seriously grateful.

      I’m just back in Texas at an airport in another town, and I’m already afraid of running into him. I avoid events I know he’ll be at, or might be at, because a panic attack in public is highly embarrassing.

      Unfortunately, he emailed me twice two weeks ago. I don’t know what they said, as I didn’t read them, but just seeing the subject line & first line in the preview was enough for me to panic. Then he showed up at a community poly event and had the nerve to try and speak to my husband after the way he treated and abandoned me. Honestly.

      Yes, that whole ordeal caused a serious relapse that I’m starting to come out of two works later.

      Seriously thinking about moving out of state just to stop worrying about the possibility of seeing him.

  3. Difficult subject, making it hard to press the “like” button, but truly a good post. I have been in the same situation and feel for anyone that’s been through similar. That type of abuse can utterly destroy a person.

    • Indeed it can.

      The hardest part for me has been that the abuser get away without any responsibility or even acknowledgment of the damage they caused.

      I don’t suppose it would change much if he would admit it and apologize.

      • Him apologizing would mean additional contact for you. From my experience, any contact is bad. They’ll go through great lengths to avoid taking responsibility. Their minds are off-kilter. (To put it nicely.)

        Even a case of mistaken identity was once enough to stress me to the point of headache.

      • Agreed. I’ve had the mistaken identity thing, too. Especially without my glasses. :)

        And, you’re right. There is nothing to support any benefit of the doubt on his part, yet I still want to give it to him. Id give about anything for it to be other than it so obviously is, but that’s the part of the PTSD.

        Off-kilter. Yes. Different reality, actually. My husband uses the word lunatic. My life coach: whack-job. My psychiatrist: sicko. And my counselor: mind-fuck.

        They all fit, I’m afraid. And here I am still in love. But getting better.

        An apology or any contact would just be a further mind-fucking. No doubt.

        Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I’ve been thinking of this post all night; it strikes really close to home. Have you found that at times you wish things could go back to the way things were–for better *and* for worse? I know it’s utterly irrational but at odd moments I find that desire almost irresistable. Perhaps not quite Stockholm Syndrome, but another type of conditioning (I know you’ve touched on it previously).

    Knowing that it would be another mind-fuck, but probably worse, doesn’t really help. Like there’s some nugget of cancerous thought that overrides the intelligent decision to stay the fuck away.

    I’ve struggled in the past and failed to stay away before. Other times, I’ve done better. Each “failure” has done nothing but made things worse, for me, in the long run.

    (Not preaching, just sharin’)

    • Thank you for sharing.

      Yes. Exactly. I said those exact words to my husband last night. I’d take the abuse back if I could just have the joy and bliss and love and ecstasy back, too. It is precisely Stockholm Syndrome, better known as the betrayal or trauma bond in situations like this.

      And yes, it would be another mind-fuck, and part of me just doesn’t care. That’s how deep the damage is.

      Thank you for telling me how going back has made things worse. It helps me stay away. Because the urge to do anything to recover even a bit of it is very, very strong. My heart and soul still feel the love, but my mind and body feel the effects of the trauma. I’m being torn apart.

      • I hesitate to call it Stockholm Syndrome. Something about that label doesn’t sit completely right with me. For me, at least, I don’t have a conscious or subconscious affinity with my ex. The way someone described it to me was like a drug dependency or addiction. I had grown used to the batshit crazy parts of life, and it had become the standard. Now that it was gone, I felt dissatisfied or lost–even though I knew it was better for me in the long run to be away from the fuckin’ insanity, I still craved it because I was /used/ to it.

        I’m very, very glad that hearing it helps you stay away. That’s what works for me too; the support/reminder/affinity of others who have been through similar. Especially when I’m close to throwing in the towel and set myself up for another round of hell.

        I don’t know if you’ve been through the next stage (at least, the stage that was next for me) when the abuser senses or manages to time their attempts to reengage when you’re very susceptible to being reengaged. That is the worst, because you *want* it and it’s offered… though, you know inside yourself it’ll just end up bad again.

        Hell, I know you don’t know me from the average Internet crazy, but if shit gets too overwhelming and you need a sympathetic ear or someone to talk *to* you who has been there before, this is a standing offer.

      • No. Stockholm Syndrome isn’t the word I’d use either. But Stockholm Syndrome is a type of betrayal/trauma bond. I do see it as a trauma bond, though. Look up those terms instead. You’ll see the similarities.

        And, yes, addiction is quite accurate as well.

        I spoke with a friend yesterday who validated this yet again, the need to disengage and stay away. Inviting them back in or even allowing them back in is just another round of hell. Well put.

        As far as the “next stage” you mention, I did have a taste of that two weeks ago, and it set me back a month of healing. I didn’t want it, nor did I welcome it, talk to him, or read his emails, but it affected me just the same. I suppose it would’ve been a lot worse had I truly engaged. I’m glad I didn’t.

        Thank you for the offer. I might just take you up on it.

        Namaste.

  5. Whew, glad to know I am not alone in suffering from PTSD due to a relationship. I have been able to overcome it’s effects in most situations. The perpetrator is now dead (at the hands of one of his victims), but occasionally, still, a situation will begin to bring up the panic. Fortunately I can just leave and it will resolve its self in a relatively short time and I thank the Gods for my therapist who finally figured out what was going on and gave me the tools to deal with it.

    • Oh my! At the hands of one of his targets! Wow.

      I’m glad to hear you have a good therapist to help you past this. Thank you for your comment.

      Peace.

  6. [...] PTSD from Emotional Abuse [...]

  7. [...] PTSD from Emotional Abuse (omgrey.wordpress.com) [...]

  8. I learned alot, thank you so much for this post! I found your site on Jesse Jeanine’s site. God bless!

  9. I have found myself far too often in the position of watching a person I care about being verbally/emotionally abused by their partner/spouse. Generally, nothing I do or say is helpful, and often only makes the victim angry with me and cling ever closer to their abuser.

    I wonder if there’s anything a person can do or say that would be helpful in a situation where they see someone being verbally abused and publically humliated by their abusive partner…to let the victim know it’s NOT OK for the abuser to act that way, that the victim isn’t doing anything wrong, that the distress that is felt by witnesses is not embarassment that the victim is doing something wrong, but that the abuser is behaving so far outside normal boundaries of decency that onlookers are just totally at a loss as to how to respond appropriately?

    • That’s a very good questions, and I don’t know if there is an answer. When a person is trapped in a trauma bond (and still in the relationship), their view of the reality of their partner is very skewed.

      What’s helped me in the past is seeing it from the outside, like observing another abusive couple and recognizing the behavior as similar to my partner’s. Still, it often is after the relationship is over, and I’m struggling to alter my perception to the reality of the abuse/r.

      Another thing that might help are support groups, for a similar reason, but that still will require the person to acknowledge that there is something amiss.

      One day ask her if she thinks her partner is good enough for her mother or sister or daughter. And see what she says. Often times that will help break the veil at least a little bit. Likely she will say she wouldn’t want this relationship for someone she loves. And that then begs the question if it’s not good enough for them, why is it good enough for her?

      • Surround yourself w positive people at home and work. Don’t get caught up listening to someone complaining. It’s a domino affect and mood change. One person can make anyone’s day go to shit. We all learn the things that bother or make another person uncomfortable. These types will learn it then use it to sick the life out of you. The thought alone is embarrassing but don’t think about it. Practice striking back. Look in the mirror and do to them as they just did to you and yell as loud as you can to get others attention. Then watch how fast the color in their face turns gray and walk away. ;)

  10. I am not sure I’m comfortable with the idea that charm is a red flag. Yes, predators try to be charming because that gets them what they want, but if you make charm a negative trait, it encourages people to be rude. People are too rude as it is.

    No answers here. I just miss common courtesy as a way of treating people, rather than a justification for more entitled behavior.

    Doc

    • There is a difference between charming and nice; charming and polite; and charming and friendly.

      Very much so.

      Agreed that people are too rude as it is. I also miss common courtesy. What I do like about rude people is that they don’t hide their assholery. At least we know they are assholes up front. The ones who hide it beneath a false face and turn on the charm, those are the dangerous ones.

      Like I said, not all charming people are predators…and not all predators are charming. But the most convincing ones are.

      Think of the word “charm” – it’s conjures images of magic and sorcery. Things that aren’t real, casting a spell, and that’s often what these people do. So very convincingly.

      Charm is not a negative trait, it’s just a warning sign to look more closely.

      • My ex husband was/is a big charmer. He could lie and manipulate anyone anytime. It was disgusting and terrifying. He made me believe I was crazy, that things were always my fault, he’d break my stuff, my heart, and call me horrible names, cheat on me repeatedly, raped me, and the list goes on. With everyone else he was such a good guy that nobody would have believed me had I opened my mouth and said something. But looking back on it I don’t know if that’s true, it’s just how I felt and I wish I’d been brave enough to stand up for myself somehow.

        But in between the emotional abuse he could be good to me and I clung to those moments. It was like he kept just enough hope in me for me to stick around. Here I am three years later and still a broken, sad, scared mess with trust issues and I’m remarried to a great guy but for some reason I can’t bring myself to tell him everything that happened. I’m nervous and my hands are sweating just typing this. And somehow when I see the ex even now, three years later, I still feel panic and fear. I thought over time that would ease up and go away but I think it’s worse or the same if I’m being honest.

      • I’m so sorry to read you went through such a nightmare with that “charmer.” Sounds like a sociopathic narcissist, like the man who raped me. There was a lot of gaslighting going on, judging from your description, as well as sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse. You were unable to get away for so long because of the Betrayal Bond. It creates a deep bond that’s extremely difficult to break.

        I’m so glad you got away from him.

        It was brave of you to write this comment. It’s so scary to come out into the open about these things, as most people will dismiss and minimize your experience, causing more damage. Therapists often will, too. Find a good somatic therapist who specializes in PTSD recovery, and you’ll start to heal. PTSD, unless it heals in the first few months, won’t heal by itself over time. New traumas will accumulate over the old ones, deepening the damage.

        Unfortunately, it’s up to us to repair the damage others caused. Look into Somatic Experiencing and interview therapists before you commit to one. At the very least, get The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook or The Betrayal Bond, and you’ll start to understand/heal. It might give you the strength to talk with your husband and seek out a therapist. You are not alone. When you read these books, you’ll see that.

        I’m glad you’re with a decent man now. May you find peace.

  11. [...] PTSD from Emotional Abuse (omgrey.wordpress.com) [...]

  12. [...] Normally, the Allegory of the Cave brings to mind the unexamined life, those who hide from their fears and live in deep denial. But this is also very accurate, in relation to being trapped in a trauma bond and the struggle to first see and then break that bond. [...]

  13. [...] I can’t engage in such an intimate act with someone I deeply care about. It’s too much. More fun effects of the PTSD. My husband, of course, has been nothing but supportive. He just held me and reassured me that it [...]

  14. [...] PTSD from Emotional Abuse (omgrey.wordpress.com) Share this:TwitterMoreEmailPrintFacebookStumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  15. [...] Last week, I wrote a post called Ethical Responsibility: STI Edition. As I type this out, I’m sitting in Planned Parenthood waiting to go in for STI testing. As anyone who is sexually active, it is our responsibility to be regularly tested and share those results with partners. Today I’m a little nervous thanks to my former partner having genital herpes and not telling me about it. I’m sure it’s fine, but still. He deceived me. He deceives others. As I’ve written about in other posts, the abusive nature of this man doesn’t end there. [...]

  16. [...] PTSD from Emotional Abuse [...]

  17. [...] PTSD from Emotional Abuse (omgrey.wordpress.com) [...]

  18. [...] I’m feeling so much better over all. Truly. I do still get triggered from time to time, as is expected with PTSD, but each time, although the intensity is frighteningly the same, the duration is considerably [...]

  19. [...] you might be suffering from chronic PTSD from a lifetime of unrecognized abuse rather than a chemical imbalance. It’s been quite the [...]

  20. i met a woman almost a year ago who after a few months revealed things that were happening in her marriage. it turns out she was in a verbal/emotional/financial abusive marriage and had been with her spouse almost twelve years. growing up in that enviroment i knew the signs and steps to take. after listening to her tell me everything i pointed out the things that were abusive to her. which was about ninety percent of any website that describes abuse. they tried to work on it twice but it failed. everytime she would come to me when things went bad because i tried and could always build up her self esteem faster than her husband could lower it. over the next few months…well, we fell in love and she decided to leave him seeing there was more to life than what she had been getting. divorce papers was filed and things were going along smoothly until he decided he had to get her back. he used everything he could to drive her back to him without any remorse. he tried taking the kids away twice. constantly using them to come around her. one time he’d be charming the next looking to bring her down. he even charmed her family into convincing her he had changed and had them telling her to work things out. two months ago he said he felt bad for not paying child support and promised to start. that same week his lawyer asked for and got the right to have custody of the kids if she didn’t have a place of her own to live. two weeks later when she asked about the money he promised, he said in front of her family that he never agreed to that and she must be losing her mind. that left her with two weeks to find a place to live and no money to get one but he offered a solution. move back in with him and try to work things out. i stepped in then and offered her the money she needed and she accepted it and was happy and excited about it. two hours later she disappeared. that was a month ago. i haven’t heard from her at all. i did hear from her husband though. i don’t know what happened that day but the first thing he did was isolate her from everyone and everything. only allowing her to talk to her family if he’s there. completely controlling her and making her depend on him for everything. two days ago i talked to her brother. he said she is working on her marriage and that things are going better. she thinks he has really changed this time. she doesn’t love him and don’t want to be with him but that didn’t matter to him. now she’s stuck there thinking she has no other option but to try and make it work. i have no way to communicate with her. this absolutely broke my heart. i’m so in love with her. i’m lost without her but there is nothing i can do but never give up hope. i wish i knew a way to help.

    • Oh, sweetie. You sure are heartbroken! And I can see why. That is a miserable situation, and her husband sounds like an abuser of the worst kind. Using his kids as ammunition? Deplorable. Everything you describe I’ve read again and again on what abusers and psychopaths and narcissists are like. How they establish control and isolate. How they make their targets dependent and utilize emotional, verbal, and sometimes physical threats.

      I’m so sorry you are in the middle of this. It must be agonizing. May you find peace.

      • thank you. yes it is agonizing. not knowing anything is the worst part . it has been going on for so long that she didn’t realize he was being abusive until i pointed some of it out to her. she was so close to being away from it. once he started his manipulation tactics it didn’t take long for her to become so emotionally unstable that she would have a hard time even making rational , easy decisions. i knew i was losing her when she asked me “well, what if he has changed? don’t i owe it to myself to know for sure?” it was all downhill from there. she’s been back with him almost five weeks. i’ve seen what he can do to her in just fifth teen minutes so five weeks she’s completely brainwashed by now. i feel so sad for her. when the “honeymoon” stage ends i’m afraid it’s going to be worse than it ever has been before because now he thinks he can validate her “punishment” for leaving him. i’ll never give up on her. i still have some hope for us.

      • It will likely be worse. That’s what I’ve read. The cycles get increasingly worse as their control over their target deepens. Her saying those things is a selection of the trauma bond. Unless one (and one’s loved ones) is aware of the trauma bond (betrayal bond/Stockholm Syndrome) and its effects, it’s impossible to resist. It’s very, very strong indeed.

        Had it not been for my support network, I would’ve talked myself back into my ex’s life as well. I still struggle with conflicting feelings 5 months later. My love for him is still so strong, but it’s undeniable now that he’s not only an abuser, he’s capable of rape.

        And you’re probably trauma bonded to her. This has been very traumatic for you, and your connection with her is not only the love you have for her but also the pain you’ve experienced with/through her. Take care of yourself.

        I’m so so so sorry you are in this position.

      • yes, i’m very aware of the trauma bond i have with her. the bad thing is i was her support group. he even used her own family and made them believe she was blowing it all out of proportion. i finally told her brother most of what has been happening all these years. only now i’ve been made out to be the bad guy in all of this and that it was me who was doing the brainwashing. now her entire family is ignoring me. as hard as it was i had to step back and distance myself from it all. her family has known him ever since he was a kid. they don’t know me at all. i can’t stand it when i here “i just can’t believe it. he’s such a nice guy” it’s frustrating. they don’t see what happens behind closed doors. i said to her brother “you don’t have to believe me, but what if i am telling you the truth? isn’t it worth keeping an eye out for her to make sure? because it may be too late when you do see it.” maybe he’ll keep a watch on her. there’s nothing more i can do while she is with him. if i try to interfere now i’ll cause more harm than good. i’m glad you were able to get out. there are so many women who don’t. i have a good friend who barely escaped. it took her laying in a hospital bed in a coma from being beaten so bad by her husband to make her leave. i had my friend talk to her back in december to share her experience. it helped in her deciding to leave him. it’s horrible, almost half the women that’s been in my life have suffered domestic abuse or violence. it’s like it has always been a part of my life. thanks for listening and sharing your past. sites like yours eally do help. the awareness has to be raised because it’s a huge problem that needs to be seriously looked at because it’s around almost everyone.

      • Anytime, Jason.

        Yes. I’m appalled at just how prevalent domestic abuse and sexual assault both are in this society, and people just turn a blind eye. Thinking it can’t happen to them, I suppose.

        It can.

        I hope it never does.

        Don’t get me started on how law enforcement handles it, or, rather, doesn’t.

        May you find peace, my dear. May we both.

  21. [...] and smaller. I went through extensive therapy and counseling and healing and such to deal with the PTSD and fallout of the trauma this man [...]

  22. hi grey. thought i might give you an update on my situation. it has been seven weeks today since she left. the only word i’ve gotten about her is that she is trying to “work things out with him” and that she really believes this time he has changed. this came from a family member who pushed for her to go back to her husband saying to her, “even if he ‘s only changed a little bit things will be better. you have to try and give hm a chance.” it eats away at me to think about it but it is an example to your last post on narcissist, psychopaths, and sociopaths on how they are able to exploit others sympathy and manipulate them into helping obtain what they are after. no one is able to see him for the monster he is, but i’m afraid one day they will. i just hope it isn’t after something bad happens to her. finding this blog has helped more than anything so than you.

    • Abusers are indeed very good at what they do. And families are often not supportive of the victim. I’m appalled at their comment. Even if he changes a little bit? So, instead of beating her with a trash can lid, he’ll only slap her from time to time, right? Or instead of hitting her, he’ll just torment her emotionally and put her down so there are no scars to show for proof. Right?

      How horrific.

      Thank you for the update. She’s lucky to have you there for her, Jason. Unfortunately, so little can be done outside domestic violence situations until the target gets out. I’ve had friends (plural) who have been in horribly abusive situations. A few of them got out, but it took things getting very extreme. One of them is still in. Living her every moment in fear.

      She knows that I will drive across the country to pick her up and take her wherever she wants to go as soon as she says the word. Until then, anything I try to do can just make it worse for her.

      Domestic Violence: Helping a Friend

      Thanks for saying the blog has been helpful. I’m so pleased to hear it. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do: warn and help other people from falling victim to what I did. Let them know they’re not alone, as well as have a safe place to speak…and for them to do the same.

      • about fourteen years ago i found out an old friend was in a very bad abusive marriage. i was young and thought i knew how to handle it but i had no clue how wrong i was. my actions one night caused him to take it out on her and he beat her so bad it put her in the hospital. but, the next day she had him arrested and filed for divorce the following week. about once a year i try to reach out to her some how but still to this day she blames me for what happened to her and hasn’t responded. i can live with that because she went on to remarry and has a wonderful life and has been happy ever since. i blamed myself for a very long time but finally realized it was her husband to blame. he was the one that beat her. he was the one that put her in the hospital. i’m a lot wiser now because of it.

        not only has your blog helped but you yourself has made what i’m going through a bit easier. sometimes it helps just knowing their is someone out there who listens and genuinely seems to care and wants to help. so, thank you. really thank you.

      • Really, thank you, too. Just for saying that. :) I’m glad you don’t feel alone, and when people comment, I don’t feel alone either.

        Yes. The abuser is to blame. Always.

  23. I lost my 10 years relationship during April. My ex left me with so many pains and since then i have been heart broken and shattered. I have contact 15 spell casters and 10 of them has rip me off my money without any result. I have Emailed so many sites online looking for a good spell caster till i was directed by a 16 years old girl to alteroffiretemple@gmail.com At first i never believed him because he was requesting for some amount of money to buy items, it took him three weeks to convince me and something occur to mind and i said let me give him a trial.
    I was very shocked when Ruben called four days after i sent Dr OMO the items money. He apologies for all he has done wrong and i am very happy that we are together today because he proposed to me last night. I will advise you contact Email alteroffiretemple@gmail.com because he has done wonders in my life and i believe he can help you out in any problem

  24. I know I suffer from PTSD from every kind of abuse & other bad experiences, but can seeing a psychologist or counselor REALLY help? Does it help those of you who have gone/are going?

    • Yes. Most emphatically.

      First, if for nothing else than the validation. But even moreso, techniques like somatic releasing and EMDR and others truly help.

  25. Reading this has made me realize that ALL of my relationships have been in some way abusive. I, for a long time, thought it was me who was abusive. But it was me defending myself from an onslought of demeaning hurtful words, all that were disguised as “helpful” words. But in reality all they were doing was beating me down. No wonder i never felt happy or really loved in any of those relationships. I’m not proud to say when my last relationship failed i crossed the line and she got a taste of her own medicine. I regret crossing that line. But, i will never, NEVER, do that again. I am a better man than that. I am learning to love myself and respect myself these days. I will stand up for myself and not let myself get abused or taken advantage of again. It’s comforting knowing there are others out there who know what it’s like. Especially hearing other men have gone through it. I would rather be happy single, than being miserable while with someone who doesn’t love me.

    • Yes!!!

      And you likely were abusive, too. Perhaps not the aggressive abuser, as you stated, but abusive. That’s what we’ve learned love looks like. I’m abusive at times, and I catch myself sooner and sooner now. Self-awareness is just the beginning.

      I think being single for awhile and really exploring the abuse in your past relationships and growing up would greatly benefit you and your future relationships.

      You likely are drawn to women who will play out your unresolved childhood & past relationship issues. Your brain recognizes the danger, but the signal is interpreted as sexual attraction and “chemistry.” It’s really the fight or flight reflex, as you’re subconsciously reading cues of what this woman is like, even though your conscious mind thinks you’re avoiding the same trap.

      It’s a lot to work out, to separate love and abuse when the two have been merged for your entire life.

      Not to excuse chronic and habitual abusers, for it is a choice, but they too were victims of abuse. They just developed into the aggressors. And the cycle continues.

      Some compassion is called for, but my compassion ends when they’re hurting other people, again and again and again.

      • With this last woman, i know she has had a rough history but she, like i used to, buries all the pain and hurt. I am learning to actually talk about things and releasing my past. It pains me deeply that i turned abusive, and you’re right, it was my fight or flight response. I said many hurtful words to her. Deep down I now see that it was me trying to get away from her. for my heart knew she isn’t what i wanted. But while we were together, she wouldn’t ever really say much to build me up, until I got to the point of thinking on leaving. I am 29y/o and she is 32. But I am seeing that in many ways she was immature. And in some ways i was. I’m done pointing fingers at either her or I, because it doesn’t get you anywhere. I’m seeing the facts and yes, I thought i was in love with her. But when I look back on it i see that she passed all the “blame” onto me. That the things i did are the reason for what she said or did. Even to this day (it’s been 7 months since we split) whenever we talk it always gets turned back onto me. I have made apologies for what i did, i don’t expect her to forgive me, but i just wish she could stop throwing everything back onto me. I made a decision that I am done talking to her so that the cycle ends. I can remain calm while I talk to her, but things i say still set her off and all comes back to being “my fault”.
        While her and I were together anytime i would try and bring up how i was feeling about things that were going on I heard, “You’re wrong” or “No, that’s not true”. Now yes I admit i let my jealousy get out of hand and I made my share of mistakes, and I tried to atone for them. But it was as if she held EVERY mistake against me. Then when I tried to turn things around it was as if everything i did wasn’t “good enough”. Even before it got rough between her and I, I would do little things and make comments to help build her up. But even then she just seemed to not appreciate it.
        I am now becoming content on staying single for awhile and taking care of myself. I know growth isn’t easy and it’s a tough path. But I know i will be stronger. So many of the people closest to me have noticed a change in me. I am just so happy that I have so many people around me that are so loving and supportive.

      • Good for you.

        People who can’t or won’t apologize and who refuse to take responsibility are people to stay far, far away from. They are at best completely unaware abusers and at worse psychopaths/narcissists/sociopaths. I’ve written extensively on the symptoms of those pathologies on this blog.

        Regardless, yes. You apologized. You tried to mend fences and salvage some kind of relationship. Now it’s time for No Contact with her whatsoever.

        No Contact & get into counseling. The further you get away from her and the others, the clearer the abuse and signs will become. The clearer they become, the better chance you will be clear-headed enough to see them next time before it’s too late.

        No Contact (NC) means no Facebook, unfriend and block, no Twitter, email, text, nothing. For at the very least 3 months.

        I’m happy you have a strong support network. You’ll need them.

        Peace.

  26. All I can say is it’s like I was reading a page from my own life in this entry. The panic, the fear, the isolation, all too familiar. Gaslighting was a favorite of my ex and had I any idea what it was at the time I might have changed course, but you really do start to believe them. You really start to question everything you know or thought you knew about relationships, what is appropriate behavior and reality. Thank you so much for sharing, we are not alone.

    • I’m so sorry to hear you went through this. But you are not alone. This post, along with “Pathology of the Commitmentphobe” are the two most-read posts on this blog, and all found through search engines. The search terms that lead people to my blog daily are heartbreaking, so we are not alone.

      I’m glad you found validation here. Please spread it around. The more people learn about PTSD, emotional abuse, and predators, the better chance we have at stopping this horrific cycle.

  27. [...] and a very important one at that: People Who Hide Behind Poly. Overall, my most popular post is PTSD from Emotional Abuse, followed closely by Pathology of the [...]

  28. [...] this is my most popular post, along with PTSD from Emotional Abuse, I thought I’d write an [...]

  29. Learning how to deal with stress is important. If you have gotten to the point you dread certain situations because you had an attack during those circumstances, you should start looking at those times differently and for what they are. Many people get troubles built up in their minds and those thoughts take over when those people least expect it. These are the thoughts that pave the way for serious attacks. When you know the source of your pressure, dealing with it head on is necessary sometimes to take it away. If you are having issues at your job, talk to your boss or other co-workers about it. Talking and counseling are great ways to relieve the pressure that may be causing you to suffer severe anxiety. The same is also true about family problems. Making sure you take the time to talk to your family about what is bothering is of the utmost importance.^

    • Talking to people, especially bosses and family, about any mental illness is terrifying because of the stigma associated with these things. Anxiety and depression are very common, but so many people who suffer from it still feel shame around their illness.

      I agree, though, talking about it — to people who will understand and support you — is essential. That may or may not be your boss or family, though. In my experience, it’s not, save my husband. Certain family members will listen to a point, but they don’t know what to do to help and they can’t understand that just listening without judgment or blame is often all that’s needed.

      Since this post is about PTSD, those who are suffering anxiety and depression because of having endured trauma can experience secondary trauma, exacerbating their condition and symptoms, if they trust the wrong person and are blamed or not believed. Even therapists are tricky. I’ve had therapists tell me I need to have compassion for my rapist and the rape has traumatized me because I think rape is a bad thing. If I didn’t consider rape to be so bad, I wouldn’t be so traumatized. You see, it’s my ego that’s the problem.

      I’m not kidding.

      So even licensed therapists can do more damage.

      I’ve learned that no matter how little I trust, it’s still too much. When you find the one or two or, if you’re really lucky, three people you can trust, keep them close and treat them well. Show your gratitude. It is so very fucking rare.

  30. [...] around it, and how distressed I was about that. He said that was a common response in cases of PTSD and Rape Trauma Syndrome. Because of the type of rape and betrayal by The Rapist, aka Austin Poly [...]

  31. I feel stuck and dont know what to do. my “deceased spouse” was verbal, mental, financial and sexually abusive (made me “please” men unwillingly). he has been dead 7 years but i feel the same about myself and have lately found myself reliving the situations and falling apart crying still feeling as though it was my fault he was that way towards me. i continue to have very low self esteem and feel that i should be treated the same way-even though i know this is wrong…..i still walk on eggshells. i am just stll lost……………….

    • I am so sorry you’re dealing with this. Sounds like a horrible man!! I’m glad he’s out of your life.

      Part of the problem is that you never got to confront him. He caused all this trauma, and you’re stuck in part because you can’t finish the fight with him. Can’t fight back.

      You’ve likely got chronic PTSD from all his abuse. It takes a lot to work through that and uncover what’s beneath it.

      Do a little ritual. Write a long, let-it-all-out letter to the bastard, telling him exactly what he did to you and how you’re still struggling because of his abuse. Then burn the letter, cursing him. Get angry. Dump the ashes on his grave and then dance on it. Spit on it. Tell him you’re glad he’s dead.

      Next, get into therapy. PTSD recovery therapy, preferably somatic. If you can’t afford it, go to domestic abuse/rape counselors in your area. Call RAINN to find ones in your area. They’re free. They understand.

      Anyone (including therapists) who tells you to let go and move on, to forgive him and all that crap, cut them out of your life, too. You don’t need anyone who normalizes abuse and suggests that you’re doing something wrong. There will be a time to let go and possibly forgive, but that time isn’t now while you’re still so affected by the extensive abuse.

      May you find peace.

  32. [...] my most popular post is “PTSD from Emotional Abuse.” Understandably so. We’re a culture immersed in so many types of abuse, PTSD is truly [...]

  33. [...] almost exclusively discussed as a phenomenon experienced by soldiers after enduring war, but it is far more ubiquitous across our society. Even our soldiers, however, experience ostracism and cruelty at the hands of their loved ones, [...]

  34. This post is amazing. I am sorry y’all are going through this but it brings me comfort to not be alone. When diagnosed with PTSD I thought it was unfair to compare me to those who had been through battle. Unfair to them, that my condition was minimizing their experiences.
    After two years of trying to get away from the magnet of mental abuse, I finally did at 20. THEN, I discovered I was pregnant. His response was “so when the fuck are you gonna marry me?” Of course, out of fear, I married him. I cried for days leading up to the wedding but hoped it would get better. 10 more years and 2 daughters later it had progressively gotten unbearable.
    While my father was in hospice we was unwilling to “babysit” the kids while I spent time with him. But he mad no bone about it, pointing out his annoyance because I was not there to cook dinner asking “when the hell is this gonna be over”. Luckily for his convenience my father passed within a few days.
    Once I left, he slashed my tires, tracked my car (following me), broke my windows and accused me of abusing my children by taking care of my mother during her final months before breast cancer took her. Saying it was cruel to make my daughters be with a dying woman- their grandmother. My mother passed a month after I filled the divorce papers because, as she said, it brought her peace knowing we were away from him and that she didn’t need to protect me anymore. His abuse kept her alive which pisses me off and I am grateful simultaneously.
    Every day I was convinced I was insane (and he was eager to verify). We (meaning he) were always surrounded by “friends” who loved the fact that inevitably he would do something so outrageous, dangerous and costly- it was like watching a train wreck- attracting a crowd, not friends. But at the end of every spectacle, it was my fault. The weather changing, causing him to drive off a cliff, was indeed somehow my fault. Him losing a job due to felony charges (DUI w concealed weapon while I was at home with the babies) was my fault for not being able to get the charges expunged, wearing eyeliner made me look like a whore…and so on, and so on, every day.
    And no one ever stood up for me, which verified my insanity. As he was hunting me down, gun in hand, while I hid under our trailer in the sand, because I was talking to a mutual male, married, friend of ours- no one pointed me out, but no one ever tried to stop him.
    Only after he began abusing meth, making me fear for our safety was I able to find the courage to leave. I was relieved he was using. It finally gave me an excuse, proof that I was justified in leaving. He never beat me physically, so I couldn’t use the bruises or broken bones. He used prostitutes, so I had no proof there. I’d get tested for STD every few months praying I contracted something but he was careful.
    For years after I left he would threaten anyone I befriended, claiming I was his property and no one takes what’s his. Finally karma caught up to him and he went to prison. I took the opportunity to move from Oregon to Florida, which was a lonely move but a smart one. It is definitely a marathon getting over the instinctual fearful reactions every time I see a possible confrontation or I make an honest mistake, but the best thing I did was marry a mellow, understanding man and get my children and myself as far away (3000 miles) as possible.

    I too am angered that not one time has he apologized or even acknowledged his “participation” in ruining our lives. To this day, the antidepressants (that I hid taking from him) made me crazy and that’s why I left him- end of story. After all nothing is EVER his fault, nothing.

    • I am so sorry you’ve had to endure this. Truly sorry. He sounds like a real monster, only worse. Monsters have no choice but to be monsters.

      He has a choice.

      He chooses to abuse and assault and terrorize.

      You likely have complex PTSD. Please find a PTSD specialist who can help you work through your trauma. Also seek out a domestic violence counselor, they are usually free under state grants.

      I’m so pleased you got away. It took unbelievable courage and strength to do so.

      May you find peace.

  35. I am in the middle of a panic attack, which has been the norm for years now. I have homework due. I just want to be successful. He doesn’t care what I need or want, he pressures me for sex, to comfort him, to give him affection, that it’s my fault he is mad at me. He says he loves me so much, know one knows him better, no one would want me more than him. I am so tired I finally got the guts to block him out of every part of my life. He is of course carrying on as long as he has some woman at his beck and call.
    I am just doing my best to forget him but I am in full blown panic mode and tempted to run back. I’m blaming myself for the whole thing, deep down I know it’s not all my fault but I can’t believe that right now. I am so sad.. how can he call being selfish love? how can he claim to love me so much, that I’m so great but wants to be with other women all the time? I don’t know what real love looks like. I don’t know what it is to be in a mutually respectful and loving relationship. I’m scared, and I feel alone and afraid to talk to anyone about this. I am so scared to open up but I want to so bad. How is he so okay right now?!?! I’m not okay. I have not been okay for over three years. I am falling to pieces. I was never good enough, right enough, pretty enough, smart enough, special enough. Sure he could tell me I was but I didn’t feel it when he told me he didn’t feel attracted to me but he felt attracted to some girl he’d never met and wanted to initiate a relationship with her. When she didn’t work out he came back to me and I was stupid enough to let him back in. I know what I need to do but I don’t know how to do it without losing my mind. Tell me what to do please…

    • Breathe.

      Touch something very cold or rough or hard and focus all your attention on that sensation.

      More to come….

    • You were so brave to get away from this creep.

      If you haven’t yet, please read my posts on Pathology of the Commitmentphobe & The Betrayal Bond.

      The most important thing for you right now is not to let this toxic, horrible person in your life no matter what. He’s caused so much damage already. He is poison, please remember that.

      It isn’t your fault.

      He can say he loves you and the rest because those words are meaningless to him. My ex told me he loved and adored me right after he raped me. Those are words used for manipulation from their mouths.

      Pressuring you into sex is a form of rape. If he loved you, he wouldn’t do that or any of the things. He uses those loving words to manipulate you under his control.

      Anytime you feel like this, do that exercise to get you right here, right now…just to get you through the panic attack. Then read read read up on abuse and other horrible people like that.

      Learn about betrayal bonds. You’re trapped in one with him. You have to stay away for a long time, months to a year, for it to break and clear away. Then you’ll see this more clearly, when you’re out of it.

      In the mean time, just get through each day without going back. **There is no such thing as too much support** during this time. This is intimate partner violence. Go to a domestic violence center and talk to a counselor there. It’s free. Call RAINN to find one in your area.

      I’m right here. Talk to me as much as you’d like. Email is fine, too.

      May you find peace.

    • Also, read up on narcissists, as that is what it sounds like he is. They’re so dangerous. Look up Lisa Scott on Google. She has forums full of N-victims. You’ll find you are not alone & have much support there.

      Find a therapist who specializes in PTSD recovery, preferably one trained in somatic experiencing. Start seeing them once a week. They will help you to begin teasing apart love and abuse, as those two things are one in the same to you right now, largely because of this narcissistic fuck.

      Glad you’re away from him.

      Peace.

  36. […] is a constant assault on your sense of self through forms of covert abuse”.  A fellow blogger, Caught in the Cogs, has an excellent post on this phenomenon.  In fact it was her blog that started me on my path of […]

  37. […] it and justify it, primarily with love. Abuse like this is cumulative and contributes to Complex PTSD. If I look back over my life, in my teens and twenties, I would have to say that about 1/3 of the […]

  38. […] traumatized by the sexualized violence either. Trauma is cumulative. By the time it happened again, and again, and again, and–yes–again, in my early 40s, it all had caught up with me and […]

  39. […] http://omgrey.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/ptsd-from-emotional-abuse/ […]

  40. I have read about what emotional abuse is and I know I’ve been abused since childhood, and still have family members who treat me that way. I married once before and he was a very scary binge drinker. The marriage was brief. My longest relationship before my current one, I was physically abused time and time again to the last time when he put me in physical shock and I would’ve died had he not known how to clear my tongue from backing into my throat. My first love ever, raped me twice. Yes, I know how to pick them.

    My current marriage is of 20 yrs. 2 kids out of HS now. Drug addict/sex addict husband for most of these yrs. Relapsed w/ sex addiction 2 yrs into marriage, relapsed drug addiction starting 5 yrs into marriage. On and off of drugs throughout the past 15 yrs, in and out of work. I was diagnosed with clinical major depression and hospitalized in and out for a yr 6 yrs into the marriage. When I came out of the deep part of the depression he was on so much drugs he would walk into walls, slur words, had wide gait, paranoia, anger bursts. I went to six years of solid therapy. Still from time to time in touch with same therapist.I decided to stay with him, because addiction is an illness and he kept trying to beat this.

    The years i have had with him have been marked with great love and giving and respect and friendship, along with lies about relapses, well into the cycle of the drug abuse. I kept asking him if he was on something, he said no, it’s me, nothing is going on, etc. I questioned myself time and time again, lived through his rages, watched my words, walked on the eggshells. Lived thru bankruptcy, you name it. At this point, he says he’s not on anything, though I’m wondering because I see some subtle signs, but his anger is completely paralyzing me. I pretend I’m asleep when he is around. I shake, I am petrified of another outburst. I have nothing to show for 20 yrs. No retirement as I stayed home raising the children. The home is not in my name. I don’t have anyone to help me. I know I’m not alone in this situation, others have the same or even worse going on, but I am most definitely alone in this life.
    He is ready to inherit a small fortune very soon and now told me in marriage counseling, he wants a divorce. He has and now is in full bloom of blaming everything that is wrong with life on me. Hard times, my fault. His addiction, has nothing to do with anything. I’ve been unsupportive and fell short. There is something about me that is not right. I am “not right”. This is what I was told by him. Its been said everytime things are tough, then we get through them and we are proud that we loved each other to get through it. Then they get tough again, and so on and so on. Now, he’s just had it with me and he’s done.

    Of course part of me wants to stop living in fear. I read about PTSD from abuse and I have all the signs. I’ll get help for that but I’ve been afraid these past couple of yrs to even go out very much. I’ve no where to go, no one to turn to and I refuse to kill myself for the sake of my children. That was a decision I came to a couple of weeks ago, when I thought I was seeing my last sunrise. On top of this, I was given an ultimatum to quit smoking so after being a lifetime smoker I’m not able to smoke. That part sounds all good but under these circumstances, I think it’s a miracle I can even write this post. I just recently lost my father who was the only member of my family that loved me unconditionally. We were very close, he lived here with us in his own apartment, never intruded was kind hearted and he and my husband loved each other. My kids are starting to become a mess now. Everything is unraveling. My youngest daughter just asked me how counseling went. I said we are going back. What else could I say without knowing how to deal with it myself. I need to help them when they hear this.

    I don’t want to feel there is no hope, no future for me, but it isn’t looking very good. How do I not fall apart and dive into a major MAJOR depression now?

    • I’m so sorry to read about this. What a horrific situation.

      Your husband sounds like a complete sociopath. I’m glad you’ll be rid of him, then at least you won’t be newly traumatized over and over.

      To answer your question, it will be one moment at a time, I’m afraid. Get angry, if you can, and funnel that anger into formulating a case to take the abusive bastard down. Gather up all the evidence of his drug addiction, sex addiction, abuse, and gaslighting bullshit. Chronicle how his abuse has affected you on every level. Show how you stood by him through his struggles for him to just abandon you after a windfall. Speak with a domestic violence shelter and legal advocate. Fight. Fight. Fight.

      Doesn’t sound like you have much more to lose because of this creep. He’s taken so much already and done so much damage to your psyche and soul. Fighting back can only help you recover your seance of self and worth.

      Do it legally and ruthlessly. You matter. He doesn’t.

      p.s. It does sound incredibly stressful to have to quit smoking in the middle of all this. Nicotine will contribute to you depression, however. Best to get away from it if you can.

  41. So how do u suggest to address all these symptoms ?

    • Seek out support from a domestic violence counselor, they’re usually free. They will validate your experience rather than dismiss and minimize it. They will help you get out, which is ultimately what I hope you choose to do. It’s the last thing you want to hear, I know. I’ve been there. You’re likely trapped very deeply in a betrayal bond if you’re still with your abuser. It’s blinding and extremely difficult to break. There is no such thing as too much support during this time. After The Austin Poly Rapist raped me twice and I began to accept that’s what happened, I was in rape recovery therapy three times a week for months. Before I accepted it, when I was still trying to break that betrayal bond with him, I was in therapy at least twice a week.

      Therapy is essential. As I said, domestic violence centers usually offer it for free. For the PTSD, I highly recommend a somatic experiencing therapist and/or someone who specializes in EMDR. Some therapists are judgmental and awfully and they should have their licenses revoked. I’ve been further traumatized by several therapists, like the one who told me to have some compassion for my poor, poor rapist and that I was only traumatized by it because I think that rape is a bad thing. Those kinds of therapists are dangerous. Others won’t hold the therapist/client boundary and establish secondary relationships with the client like friend or, worse, lover. Highly damaging.

      Don’t be afraid to interview your therapist and try more than one. Get references. They’re working for you. I went through several damaging ones before I found a therapist who’s helped me (and continues to help me) recover. A good somatic therapist will help you understand how PTSD has affected your nervous system over the long term and how you’ve developed certain behaviors and thoughts for survival through the abuse.

      As you heal and become stronger, you will likely lose friends. In fact, you will quickly see who your real friends are. If it was like me and every other survivor I’ve ever met, they’re far fewer than you thought. Ultimately, those faux friends are better far away from you. You’ll start becoming angry at first and more self-protective, cutting toxic people out of your life before they can hurt you. You’ll keep those few trusted friends close, as they are extremely difficult to find.

      On the other hand, if you want to try to save the relationship and make him aware of his abuse so that he’ll stop, I’d suggest reading up a lot on abusive relationships and get into couples counseling. My guess is that he’ll refuse such therapy or just show up & sit there to be “supportive” with the belief that its all your problem anyway and you’re overreacting (i. e. more gaslighting bullshit), but he might surprise us both, although I highly doubt it.

      Hope this helps.

  42. Reblogged this on lexalayne.

  43. why would a person re-enact the last horrific night of their marriage 15 years later (beaten in front of 4 children 1 of which finally dialed 911) and have absolutely no memory of doing so? In my mind my boyfriend (kind, considerate, nice) became my ex husband. I called him by that name, screamed for help from the child that dialed 911, threw things to slow him down so he couldn’t get his hands on me again, screamed the same things as I did that night, things I had long forgotten. This was 2 days ago. I’ve made it thru these years, raised my children, fended off the ex’s never ending court attacks (gotta love the legal system) got help for my 2 children who have completely blocked out their childhood when living with him, found treatments for the one who turned to drugs and the other who became anorexic. Didn’t do much for my oldest son who was arrested for domestic violence, of course charges plead down to anger management like his father and so the cycle continues. (same judge as daddy, thank you, your honor) These things weren’t in recent history.

    Why did I re live it now? There were two triggers that day but really not very different than any other day. I’m easily startled, claustrophobic, and anxiety prone but still managed to raise 5 kids, run a fairly successful business, and found counseling, day treatments, drug programs, psychiatrists, when my children needed help. And honestly, the damage had been done by very early ages and I only have 1 able to attend college, barely coping as it is.

    What is this? And why do I have NO memory of doing this to him? He repeated the events to me almost exactly as they happened that night years ago. WTH?

  44. I divorced this type 15 years ago shortly after he beat me in front of our 4 children. The years previous to this were much of the same, isolation, verbal abuse (all of us) black eyes, head poundings etc. The last night My 7 yr old dialed 911. The divorce took years, I retained custody of our children. He plead “no contest” to his domestic violence charge, and sentenced to anger management. 2 of my children have completely blocked out the time we lived with him, although they are no longer children and are now caught in their own versions of hell. Another one developed anorexia and other eating disorders. My oldest son was recently arrested for domestic violence. They have all received counseling / day programs / treatment programs / and only 1 is coping well enough to go to college, barely. Court dates became a normal way of life throughout these years dealing with attempts to attach my assets or have me prove my stability, sanity etc. Small town life, once safe and comforting became the smear campaign on my reputation, never ending relentless attacks on my character, fueled further by his relatives. Some of my children withdrew into drugs while another hated me. Life became about survival.

    Now flash forward 15 years. I’m in a great relationship with a kind, considerate patient man. 2 nights ago, I am told, I called this man by my ex husbands name and followed the exact same events of the last night of our marriage, screaming for my son who called 911, running and screaming to stay away from me and throwing things at him to slow him down so he couldn’t get his hands on me again. I have NO memory of this whatsoever. Why did this happen? Other than being easily startled, claustrophobic, and anxiety prone I’ve managed to keep it together, support my children and run a fairly successful business and attempting to find them the mental health treatments they needed.

    I feel like my mind snapped. Why did this happen? I got chills when he told me what I did because it was exactly what happened years ago. There were 2 triggers that day, but not much different than other years.
    Did I divorce the monster, raise my kids, finally be happy, only to descend into madness?

    I feel fine today, confused yes, but fine otherwise. And it helps that my boyfriend is understanding. Small town, he knows the history. Is this PTSD? AND if so why years later? And I didn’t have nightmares about it I actually re-enacted the whole god awful last night.

    • Yes. This is PTSD. It sounds like a severe dissociative episode.
      All those other symptoms you mentioned are also hallmark PTSD symptoms. You might be in a great situation now, but your nervous system is still holding all that trauma from years past.

      Why years later? Because your nervous system is in a place to fully deal with it now, likely. You need to find a therapist who deals in trauma recovery. Somatic Experiencing or EMDR. Trauma is cumulative, and it doesn’t go away on it’s own, even if you bury it for 15 yrs. Your kids, too. They may have consciously blocked it out, but subconsciously it’s still there. They need to deal with it, too, or it will come out in horrible ways.

      Therapy is great, but you all really need to find someone who specializes in trauma recovery.

      Remember, you’re not mad. You’re dealing with horrific events this monster forced upon you. It’s far from fair, but only you can work through those. Finding some professional support will help you do that. I highly recommend finding a somatic experiencing therapist.

    • This is what is called a disassociative episode, a sub psychotic trauma reaction. I do NOT recommend EMDR. It is a practice of sustained memory floodin, staying in a specific hellish moment and using eye movements throughout being absorbed in the moment. Flooding is very controversial as it literally recreates the trauma. Common sense it’s a bad idea. Deal with the reactions but dont step into the trauma at this stage. It will set you back.

      • I don’t recommend EMDR either ever since the PTSD/EMDR specialist I went to retraumatized me by telling me to “have some compassion” for my poor rapist, and that the only reason I was so upset my lover betrayed and raped me is because I think that rape is a bad thing.

  45. Are you a therapist? You are incorrect about PTSD not being a product of prolonged abuse. It is a diagnosis, it is called Chronic PTSD, and often people develop PTSD after the events, in a place of Safety. Their conditioning is misplaced, they are confronted with unfamiliar stimuli and since it was prolonged they have far more potential triggers for the rest of their lives. I have been in treatment for PTSD for 17 years. I’ve dealt with all manner of specialist/practitioners. It is actually far more common now for a victim of a trauma of any kind to absorb the term into their lexicon long term, such as in a car accident in which they were not injured, a run of the mill divorce, even a disappointing wedding. I find it offensive. Please educate yourself. Just because you assume prolonged abuse is consistent it simply belies your ignorance. My abuser was sadistic and mercurial, it went on for 10+ years until I got away.

    • Yes. I’m well aware of that having been diagnosed with C-PTSD myself after multiple sexual assaults and a very abusive childhood.

      The bit you cite is actually quoted from another source, as you’ll see the (source) link at the end of the quote. Many of my other posts on PTSD talk further about it and my own experiences in dealing with and recovering from the abuse.

      I’m sorry to hear of your troubles; however, this blog is my space, and I expect all commenters to show basic respect and manners. If you cannot do that, I will delete your future comments.

      Take your chiding and judgments elsewhere.

    • Also, here’s a tip, if you’re offended, there’s a whole internet out there. You can choose to leave this blog and not read it.

  46. […] PTSD from Emotional Abuse Here is a link to an article I found to be interesting on the link between PTSD and abuse… PTSD from Emotional Abuse | Caught in the Cogs […]

  47. Reblogged this on morenathomas84 and commented:
    I AM LEARNING ALOT ABOUT PTSD

  48. […] http://omgrey.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/ptsd-from-emotional-abuse/ […]

  49. I removed myself from an abusive situation about two years ago and have been doing pretty well for the last 8 to 10 months. Lately, I’ve been feeling anxious again though. I’ve always had a tough time classifying what happened to me as abuse because it was a friendship, not a romantic relationship, and there was no physical violence. What I do know is that his behavior turned cruel and manipulative as soon as he started dating someone. I was deeply depressed and on the verge of suicide for about a year because of how this couple treated me. After a few weeks of no-contact, I finally started to see how I was being manipulated and covertly abused. It took me some time to finally be able to tell some close friends what had happened. They’ve been supportive, but I feel afraid to talk too much about it because I don’t want to be seen as “the crazy one.”

    I work at a fairly large arts complex, and recently this ex-friend has been coming around to seek freelance work there. It makes me super anxious (and I kind of see it as boundary-busting), but I deal with it. One of the groups he’s been working with just finished a big project and there’s pictures of him all over my corner of my social network (I have him blocked, but we have a large amount of mutual friends). What really bothers me is that he seems so successful and together. I realize that most of social network is a big “best of” program where people put very little focus on their shortcomings, but it still messes with my head. If he’s this happy, creative, successful guy and I’m still picking up the shattered pieces of my soul and desperately trying to trust again, maybe it was me that screwed everything up. Maybe I am as crazy as he said I was after all. I guess I’m filled with a lot of doubt right now.

  50. I have been in a very close intense relationship with a divorced woman for 8 yrs. Her father was a terribly abusive man. She married a man who put her down for their entire marriage then had an affair with her co worker in their own business and they are now married. Periodically she pulls away, withdraws and goes silent and won’t talk to me.

    It’s now been a month and no headway. Way too much to type. How do I win her trust and break down this wall. We love each other. She is my best friend. I am her best friend. She won’t talk to me because she knows when our hands touch she will not be able to say no because she loves me too. She has said to me that she never knew how a man should treat a woman until she met me. I love her with all of my heart.

    • Your partner is likely suffering from Complex PTSD from a lifetime of abuse. When she pulls away and withdraws, she might be retreating into a safe place within. Perhaps even a dissociative one.

      Find her a somatic therapist who specializes in PTSD recovery. They will help her recover from this extensive trauma. Touch her and assure her you will not go further, then don’t. No matter what. You must be there for her tenderly, be a safe place for her that doesn’t end in sex. Sex might feel very unsafe for her at times because of her past abuses. Make an agreement that you will not have sex for three or six months, and you will just hold her and touch her lovingly and tenderly, not sexually. During that time, get her into trauma recovery therapy.

      Read these books:
      Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, by Peter Levine
      Healing Trauma, by Peter Levine (comes with CD for helpful exercises you can do together)
      Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulations, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship, by Lawrence Heller

      This will give you a beginning understanding of what has to happen for healing to take place.

      May you find peace.

      • I am 25 and I have suffered from Ptsd for a few years which stemmed from a childhood sexual assault and kidnapping. I got into a relationship at 19 which lasted five years. He was really sweet at first but quickly moved me away and isolated me from my family and friends. I opened up about my rape experience and he began to get more controlling calling me a whore and I deserved it no one else would want me. I was getting over the nightmares of the rape, now I was being hit with a hell storm with someone that I loved verbal and physical abuse. He will lock me in the room and corner me yelling, I hated feeling like no way out, it drove me crazy and he knew it. I would get into fight or flight mode, jump out the window break doors to escape. People see the broken things and just think I’m a nut job but they don’t know what happens behind the walls that pushes me to that limit. When I’m depressed he just tells me I’m worthless and miserable instead of being positive. I left him for a year but recently started seeing him off and on. Everything’s worse but he says it’s all my fault so I feel guilty and stay but I know I deserve better, but it’s so hard I yearn for his approval but he can’t be pleased. It’s like he’s gets a thrill out of seeing me emotionally damaged… ugh, I need strength!!!! Thank you fir sharing this blog. It helps to know there are others to talk to and support.

      • You are not alone. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

        You’re right, he gets off on the manipulation and control. He’s a predator, and if you can get away from him, get to a woman’s shelter. They can help keep you safe and keep him away.

        You will never earn his approval, and once you’re away for a few weeks, you’ll see you’ll no longer want it. He’s dangerous and a horrible person who brutalized others.

        Call RAINN when you have a chance. They’ll find the nearest shelter. They’re good to talk to as well initially. You’ll be able to see an abuse counselor for free to help you with the transition.

        Please get yourself somewhere safe.
        Unfortunately, you are the only person who can get yourself to safety and away from him, and I know you can do it. You’re a survivor. You didn’t survive survive those horrible events to live like this. You deserve so much more. You left him once, you can do it again.

        The effects of PTSD are debilitating, so you need to get trauma counseling that will help you stay away from this disgusting human being.

        I’m so, so sorry all that happened to you. You are not alone.

        May you find peace.

  51. I don’t know if what I have is PTSD, as I have never been diagnosed (The first step is going to a counselor). I broke up with my incredibly abusive ex almost a year ago, and it took approximately 5 months after that to finally be rid of him for good. I spent two months after we broke up helping him, because he was on the verge of homelessness and was jobless, only to be used over and over again, and it got worse. He just expected I would bend over backwards at his command to help him. I gave him money, gave him rides and he showed no appreciation for anything I did.

    I finally disconnected from him and was hounded for another three months of harassing phone calls on my cellphone, to my parents and on my work phone. All of them telling me it was my fault our relationship failed, he’s going to come to my house/work and cause trouble, how my life is over, how “ugly and fat” I am, accusing me of sleeping around with people I never heard of (Yes…even though I broke up with him two months prior, I guess he saw my helpfulness as a a sign that we were still together- foolish me, I should have known a controlling man will always want to control).

    I am in a great relationship now with a man who loves and respects me, but I am worried about the impact my ex had on me. I am very scared of running into him, I avoid places that he used to live in and for the longest time I was terrified to go to work because I didn’t know what threatening message would be on my phone ( When I left him the very last time, I refused to drive to work for fear he would find me and do something).

    This man has tried to coerce me into a vehicle when I tried to leave him, shoved me, and then proceeded to joke about how he is “probably going to jail” after he was done with me, accused me of many affairs throughout our relationship, used to drive fast to scare me, stole from me and my family, lied numerous times about his alcohol and drug addiction, and threatened to kill himself and/or others. I became terrified of driving because he used to try and follow me anytime I left him and made up lies about using GPS tracking devices to stalk me. Sometimes I used to think he would try and tamper with my vehicle and/or steal it. I think about what he did almost everyday, and it pains me how much I put up with. I contacted the police about his criminal behavior towards me, and got NO help whatsoever.

    I guess what I am saying is I don’t know what I have, if anything. I really enjoy and I am very happy with my current relationship, but sometimes I feel so out of touch, lonely and depressed. I have been terrified of becoming abusive myself, because I was never allowed to talk about how I felt and didn’t know how to deal with problems. I was never allowed to be upset with him, never allowed to be discontent and if I showed anything other than happy, well I guess I was the one who was manipulative and unappreciative.

    I have been diagnosed with OCD in the past, which might explain any obsessive thinking I have, but I am not on any medication at this time. I have avoided a counselor because I thought I was doing fine on my own, and that most people generally don’t understand what I’m talking about unless they have been abused themselves.

    It takes a lot of courage to stand up to these evil people, and I am glad we’re not dealing with this alone.

    • I’m so sorry you went through that, but I’m glad you’re away from that scumbag (& found a good guy). You likely have PTSD after such an ordeal. There are done great books on trauma recovery, and although finding a decent therapist is difficult, if you can find one they can be so helpful.

      Thank you for writing. It helps me feel less alone, too.

      May you find peace.

  52. Does anyone know of a therapist between ventura and los angeles california that is experienced with treating the victims of emotional abuse ? I really need help to deal with this. I’ve been tramatized by a man I work for, who clearly has some personality defects. It’s gotten so bad that I can’t think at work. I don’t remember things, I can’t get started, can’t finish, can’t sleep and cry constantly. I don;t know what to do becasue I need the job, but I’m losing it here.

  53. My husband and left me on 12-23…..I exploded on that day and caused a world of havoc. …I had had enough 6 yrs worth….but the worse thing this we adopted my two granddaughters in 08 and took them along for the ride he taught well…it was 3 against one…there was no way in he’ll I was ever gonna win…I have medical issues to which made it worse….but I have on the internet day and night a cell phone in each hand I was dam determined to find what I was looking for…and u can’t imagine the load that came off my shoulders….six yrs of weight…he don’t know if he will realize what he has done after he is charged….I hope so and I hope he falls on his knee and just cry cry cry cry…I want him hurt once I want him in pain once…I want his heart to fall to pieces…..we been together for 22 yrs…we never had kids I couldn’t and he didn’t want any……but my girls is what I have to take care ..I have no idea how they r gonna handle this he is their king….I want someone from social services to be there

    • I am so sorry to read all this! You must be in so much pain. Although it sounds like you’ll be much better off without him, it will take a lot of healing and time to fully realize that.

      May you find justice and peace.

  54. Thank you so much. This just confirmed my four year ordeal. I had PTSD. Just discovered it was abuse. You are not alone.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your ordeal. It’s a harsh awakening, indeed. Now that you know, you know where to start for healing.

      May you find peace.

Please Share Your Thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,133 other followers

%d bloggers like this: