Round and Round… Get Off The PTSD Merry-Go-Round
In my novel FBoM, dealing with the aftermath of rape and abuse is a primary concept addressed by the characters. Sexual assault is traumatic at levels beyond physical. After the bruises have faded and the pain has left, there are still scars of the mind that are seldom dealt with in a compassionate and caring way.
The reality is that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) is a very real and frequently diagnosed disorder . . . for soldiers and kidnap victims. But what about survivors of sexual assault, date-rape, spousal abuse, gaslighting and long-term emotional abuse within a relationship?
PTSD happens to both men and women and by definition can be a result of any form of trauma – not just the ones mentioned above.
Therapists and researchers break PTSD symptoms down into four categories, so if any of the following relate to your own experiences, it may be worth seeking counseling in order to move past these feelings and begin living a fuller, richer life.
- Unwanted, distressing memories of the traumatic event(s)
- Recurring trauma-related nightmares
- Flashbacks – involuntary and vivid re-experiencing of the traumatic experience(s)
- Intense emotional distress and/or noticeable physiological reactions to trauma reminders
- Persistent avoidance of thoughts and memories related to the trauma
- Persistent avoidance of external reminders of the trauma (e.g. the location at which the trauma occurred or people that remind you of the trauma)
Negative Alterations in Cognitions and Mood
- A complete lapse in memory of or a feeling of blacking out for parts of the trauma.
- Perpetual negative expectations of the world
- Continuous, misattributed blame of self or others about the traumatic event
- Persistent negative emotional state and/or the inability to experience positive emotions
- Loss of interest or participation in significant activities or activities once interested in
- Feelings of detachment from others, as well as feeling like others cannot relate or understand the trauma and emotional burden
Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity
- Easily irritable or angry
- Reckless or self-destructive behavior (e.g. unprotected sex, reckless driving)
- More alert
- Easily startled
- Problems with concentration
- Difficulties sleeping, including falling asleep and/or staying asleep
Not all of these symptoms need be present, but if you are experiencing trouble with any of these, it’s worth considering seeking help . . . it’s out there . . . you’re not alone . . . and it can change your life.
Here are some further resources you might find helpful in your journey:
Special thanks to Dr. David A. Yusko, Psy.D for the above definitions. In this article, Dr. Yusko has this to say regarding treatment:
PE and CPT are two of the more frequently used forms of therapy, but there are more treatment options available. Please visit the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website to learn more about other treatment options for PTSD. Additional resources include the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety , the VA’s National Center for PTSD, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and any rape crisis center near you.
A wide selection of both Crisis and Educational Resources on Rape, Violence, and Abuse are available on this website, in this free and interactive PDF. Find it under the book info, or you can bookmark or save this direct link to the Resource.
As always… I wish you well.