*Disclaimer: I want to let you know that this blog post is meant for informative purposes only. This blog post should not be used as any kind of diagnostic criteria. If you’re dealing with something like abuse, we encourage you to please seek help. With that said, let’s begin. *
Relationships with your family and friends define your life and also shape how you experience and engage with others. I’m sure you must’ve heard the trope “Your network is your net worth”. Attached to each relationship you create are experiences and memories. Unfortunately, sometimes what you experience in relationships can hurt and scar you. These mental scars influence any new relationships you may be trying to build.
So, here are five signs of people who may have suffered abuse.
- Feelings of insufficiency
Yes, feeling insufficient is a sign of abuse. This is coupled with a sense of unworthiness that follows you around. Such feelings stem from an unstable sense of self as a result of emotionally, verbally or physically abusive relationships. In an abusive relationship, an abuser plants false ideas in your mind. The power of these ideas is not in the words being used but rather in who said them and how. This causes low self esteem and hence you unconsciously or consciously become pessimistic, hostile, indolent, and somewhat inarticulate. You might also become depressed or have other mental health conditions. Fortunately, self esteem can be improved; working out, changing the negative narrative in your head and practising mindfulness can help boost your self esteem.
- You feel numb to your emotions
Explaining feelings of emptiness or numbness can be very difficult. You suddenly feel like the words are limited and all you can do is replay hurtful emotions and wound up in tears. Depression and anxiety also cause emotional numbness.
Apathy is the mind’s respond to increased levels of emotional or physical stress and a desire to disengage from negative experiences. Officially it is classified as a ‘depersonalization disorder’; feeling disconnected from ones body and thoughts. Symptoms include disassociation, feeling like a stranger in someone else’s life, and distress. Abuse creates emotional stress which leads to the development of depersonalization disorder. In 2016, a study looked at continual exposure to violence in children and its relationship with depersonalization disorder. They found that over the course of six years most of the participants became increasingly desensitised, regardless of their age or gender.
But, there is help. Treatment for emotional numbness is possible through coping strategies, such as identifying your triggers, exercising and reaching out to a support group when necessary.
- You have flashbacks
Flashbacks to previous traumas can come in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can affect anyone and is not limited to war veterans, refugees or victims of assault.
If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship, you may have Complex PTSD (CPTSD). CPTSD develops when you suffer repetitive abuse over an extended period of time. Or perhaps the stressful event or situation you were exposed to was exceptionally threatening, or of a catastrophic nature which caused you pervasive distress. It’s not uncommon to relive the traumatic events through intrusive flashbacks, dreams or vivid memories. Also you might find yourself actively avoiding circumstances that are similar or associated with the event. Some physical symptoms of CPTSD include difficulty falling or staying asleep, increased psychological sensitivity, irritability, difficulty regulating your emotions and difficulty concentrating. CPTSD may also exist alongside depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder.
It can cause cognitive distortions, such as catastrophizing menial situations.
You might think things like, “If I do not finish the project perfectly, then it won’t be good and I’ll be a total failure” or “I just know that they would end up breaking my heart, so why even bother being in a relationship.”
If you or someone you know is dealing with CPTSD, please reach out to a therapist or licensed professional for treatment. The therapies provided will help to replace negative thought patterns, deal with stress and suicidal urges.
- You struggle with emotional detachment
Paired with emotional numbness is emotional detachment. In abusive relationships it is common for you to feel detached from yourself physically or emotionally.
Emotional detachment is a defence mechanism used to cope with distressing and overwhelming emotions. It’s the mind’s way of disengaging from traumatic experiences. It’s also a tool that develops in order for you to gain resilience against the abuse and to keep your sense of self. However, the effects of emotional attachment can linger after the relationship has ended and can prevent you from opening up and being emotionally vulnerable.
Meditation can help ground you; your body and your emotions. You become aware of your emotions and you’re able to channel the energy in appropriate ways.
Getting a pet, connecting with new friends or picking up a new hobby can also help you to broaden your horizons emotionally and physically.
- You have a habit of over apologising
A result of low self esteem caused by abuse or trauma is to constantly apologise. Those who have endured abuse in the past often apologise for things that are not their fault. This habit originates from feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness or blame.
A good thing to keep in mind is that your needs matter and are important. With therapy you can help to replace self defeating thought patterns with positive ones.
The past hurts but it doesn’t have to determine future outcomes. Did you relate to any of these signs? If you recognise any of these signs of abuse in your own life or someone else’s please reach out to a professional for treatment. We are here to help you become the very best version of yourself ❤️.
Like and share this blog post if it helped you and if you think it could help someone else. Have a lovely weekend.🌤