Trauma and abuse can have the most profoundly negative effects on a person. Forms of abuse include violence and physical abuse, sexual abuse, child neglect, emotional/verbal abuse, alcohol and drug abuse. In addition to the pain of the abusive act itself, often there is the added damage of silence, isolation and helplessness.
- Silence - to protect self from further abuse or avoid the shame of others knowing.
- Isolation - often because others aware of the abuse inadvertently or knowingly are enabling the abuser and unable to help the abused.
- Helplessness - because the abused are often children or vulnerable, unable to defend themselves.
These dynamics perpetuate the problem of abuse and it is usually in the adult years where the victim is able to deal with the trauma and abuse.
If the abuse is not dealt with in early adulthood emotional and physical aftereffects of abuse can result.
The emotional aftereffects of abuse can include:
- Shaming and self-blaming perceptions of self with the sense of being “unloveable”
- A damaged body image (“too fat,” “too thin,”, “too pretty”, “too ugly”)
- Highly idealizing romantic relationships or the opposite, ambivalence or avoidance towards them
- Difficulty trusting in relationships - may feel the need to be in control or be controlled
- Suicidal ideation
- Confusion around sexual identity
The physical aftereffects of abuse can include:
- Addictions to: alcohol, food, spending, drugs, exercise, relationships and sex
- Self-harm: burning, cutting, self-bruising, biting, scratching and beating
- Sexual dysfunctions: aversion to sex, lack of desire or arousal, orgasmic difficulties
- Compulsive interests
The result of these emotional and physical aftereffects is to add yet another layer of guilt and shame upon the abuse victim.
Because the nature of abuse is destructive at the core of an individual, and depending upon the duration of the abuse, one can expect that recovery may take several months to years. Therapy generally takes many sessions and may span several months. This is normal and though therapy can feel difficult and unsafe, we will work our hardest to help you feel as safe as possible and bring healing. Therapy for the victims of abuse can be painful and slow but is filled with hope and great reward in the end.
If applicable, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy can greatly aid in the healing process.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, is a form of psychotherapy developed in the 1980s by American psychologist Francine Shapiro. While walking in a park, Shapiro made a chance observation that certain eye movements appeared to reduce the negative emotion associated with her own traumatic memories. When she experimented, she found that others also exhibited a similar response to eye movements. After further study and experimentation, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing was developed.
There are three main ways of administering the bilateral stimulation (a therapy technique that involves alternating stimulation of the left and right hemispheres of the brain): visual, auditory and tactile. In most cases, working in person is the easiest way to administer the bilateral stimulation for EMDR and this will be though the tactile mode. If EMDR is administered through online sessions, this would likely be administered through the auditory method. You will need to supply and use your own headphones and the instructions are given here for how this is done.