Abuse takes many forms and affects people of all ages throughout the world. Abuse usually affects the most vulnerable in society and leaves victims in a fractured state both emotionally and sometimes physically. Some common forms of abuse are child abuse, sexual abuse, elder abuse and intimate partner abuse. Before healing may begin, the victim, or someone close to the victim, must realize that the abuse has created a state in which the victim is not able to cope with everyday living. Signs of this dysfunction may include:
Unpredictable onset of disturbing emotions and uncontrollable negative thoughts
Disorientation when in an unfamiliar environment or an environment that reminds the
victim of the abuse
Conflict with those close to the victim whether at home, school or in the workplace
The onset of physical symptoms such as head or chest pains
Depending upon the life stage of the victim, specific healing therapies differ. For example, healing strategies for children are much different than for adults. Most adults are able to make choices for themselves such as engaging in therapy and coping mechanisms. But children rely upon the adults around them to work through the abuse and to feel safe in the world. These adults, whether teachers or parents, must understand how to recognize and treat the effects of abuse. Most children are not able to succinctly communicate events, thoughts or feelings. They rely on different communication methods such as how they play or what they draw. Adults have the opportunity to console the child and remind them that bad things do happen in the world, but there are loving people to help. Time, patience, a consistent routine and safe surroundings guided by a trained therapist may help an abused child heal.
Healing strategies for adults involve choosing from many coping mechanisms. A trained therapist can help an adult navigate through these choices. One opportunity is to seek empathy. Empathetic listeners include support groups who have experienced similar abuse and provide personal insight on how to heal. It is important that the support group be led by a trained professional to insure a positive outcome. Another coping mechanism is to alter life style choices through a set of achievable goals. Life style choices could include moderation or elimination of alcohol, healthy eating and if needed, weight management. Establishment of a safe routine is another coping mechanism and might include a specific routine of working, eating and sleeping. Finally a victim of abuse might benefit from integrating small personal pleasures into their safe routine. These pleasures might include taking the time to read a good book, enjoy a cup of tea or meditate.
The last idea for healing after abuse is resilience. In short, resilience is the ability to bounce back after being hit with a difficult life event. Resilience is a state of mind and a shift in perspective. The victim learns to accept adversity as a part of life, reframe their self image from negative victim to positive victor and develop a hopeful outlook. A trained therapist can help victims work though their abuse by helping shift their thoughts from past hurts to present opportunities.
Miriam Gold, LCSW, PLLC
Therapy Services for Children, Adolescents, Adults, Families, and Groups
Miriam Gold specializes in trauma PTSD therapy in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her treatment specializations also include childhood and adult Trauma, adult survivors of trauma, both recent and past. Treating children and adolescents; Neglect/Sexual Abuse/Physical abuse, Community/War/Political Violence, Natural Disasters, Life Threatening Medical illness, Serious Accidents, School Violence, Traumatic Loss, Foster Care and Adoption, Attachment Concerns. Miriam is Rostered in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) through the North Carolina Child Treatment Program. TF-CBT is an evidence-based treatment for children, adolescents, and their parents or caretakers who have experienced trauma or loss. Extensive training in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), an evidence-based therapy for adults.