The first time was after I was assaulted and held at knife point by a couple of teen thugs. My pants were ripped and the buttons torn off of my shirt. I was mauled. I was scared to death. When it was all over, I knew I was okay but the fright and the panic lasted for days and weeks and months. I tried to get past it. I tried. I really did. But it would come rushing back at me at the most unexpected moment. And instead of holding me or comforting me, I was told to forget it.
Then there were the missed miscarriages. Each time I was devastated. Each time I was broken inside. Each time I was barely hanging on for the sake of my other children. Months later, it was better but it would come flooding back and drag me down. Again, I was told to forget it, let it go. It wasn’t easy but I tried.
I really tried. Now I wonder if I had been allowed to grieve and cry and express my outrage and devastation, would I be better now? Or would these memories come flooding over me forty and twenty-eight years later? I know the memories would still come back but I think I might be better. I guess I won’t ever know.
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Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome happens when a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event such as an accident, a death, a physical or sexual assault, war, famine, etc., that causes terror, fear, or feelings of helplessness and loss of control. These feelings interfere with the normal every day life of the person and can last months, years, or entire lifetimes.
How does this fit in with abuse? Abuse is a traumatic event, whether experienced as a victim or as an observer. Incidences of abuse can cause post traumatic stress syndrome in which the person feels anger, nervousness, helplessness, anxiety and other feelings that can recur, keeping them from living a normal, productive life. The person will often relive the events surrounding the trauma. They just cannot get past it.
Treatment can include medication or counseling, and often includes both components in an effort to relieve the person of the physical and emotional symptoms to get back to their normal life.
From my research, it appears that the PTSD caused by physical, emotional, or sexual abuse (or witnessing it) is the most difficult to treat. The events that caused the PTSD were in most cases, ongoing, long-lasting, and very damaging.
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