How Do Survivors Of Child Abuse Cope?
In my last post I mentioned it might be useful to look at some coping mechanisms one may wish to make use of in the recovery stage from childhood trauma and it is to some of these that I now turn.
There are two main types of coping mechanisms:
1) Those which are helpful in the short-term, but unhealthy in the long-term.
2) Those which are useful in the long-term (but can take more effort and discipline).
Examples of the first include: drinking
Childhood Trauma And Blame
When we are children, if someone treats us badly, we attempt to understand why. But in trying to understand, the child’s logic is very often flawed and s/he falsely deduces s/he is to blame for it. The child’s flawed logic may flow similarly to this:
‘Someone is hurting me…punishment only happens to bad children…that means I must be bad…therefore I am to blame for this happening…it is my own fault, there’s something wrong with me.’ THIS
DEVELOPMENT OF BELIEF SYSTEMS IN CHILDHOOD:
We develop our most fundamental belief systems in childhood. If a child is brought up with love, affection and security s/he tends to build up positive beliefs. For example:
– people should not treat me badly
– I am a decent and likeable person
– I have rights
– I deserve respect
However, negative belief systems often develop in children who have been abused. For example:
– people cannot be trusted
– I am vulnerable
If we have experienced childhood trauma to a significant degree, we may irrationally blame ourselves for it which, in turn, may well seriously, negatively, distort our self-perception; in other words, adversely affect our view of ourselves.
Our ENVIRONMENT has a large influence on how our personalities develop. For example, children brought up in a loving and secure environment are much more likely to become relatively content and self-confident adults.
On the other hand, a child who has suffered
Research shows those who suffer childhood trauma CAN and DO recover.
Making significant changes in life can be a very daunting prospect, but those who do it in order to aid their own recovery from childhood trauma very often find the hard work most rewarding.
Some people find making the necessary changes difficult, whereas others find it enjoyable.
THE DECISION TO CHANGE
Change does not occur instantly. Psychologists have identified the following stages building up to change:
1) not even thinking about it
2) thinking about it
3) planning it
4) starting to do it
Remembering traumatic events is in some ways beneficial. For example, it allows us to review the experience and learn from it. Also, by replaying the event/s, its/their emotional charge is diminished.
However, sometimes the process breaks down and the memories remain powerful and frightening. Sometimes they seem to appear at random, and at other times they can be TRIGGERED by a particular event such as a film with a scene that shows a person suffering from a similar trauma to that suffered by the
Problems Caused By Childhood Trauma :
One thing from research is clear: the experience of childhood trauma makes it more likely the individual will suffer problems as an adult. Abuse does not, though, necessarily lead to severe problems, but makes a person more VULNERABLE to them in later life.
THE MORE SEVERE AND REPEATED THE ABUSE THE MORE LIKELY THE INDIVIDUAL WILL DEVELOP PROBLEMS LATER.
What Is Childhood Trauma?
There is no one, absolute and precise definition of childhood trauma. However, experts in the field of its study generally agree that an individual’s traumatic experience will be related to one or more of the following three types of abuse: