I have been mindful in noticing the relational patterns and close networks of those who have suffered trauma throughout their lives. This does not included a one off incident. By trauma I am referring to the following:
-childhood physical abuse
-childhood sexual abuse
-patterns of domestic and family violence
-childhood emotional abuse
-victim of violent crimes
-experiencing war and gang violence
-rape at any stage of life.
Many people who experience anything traumatic appear to have multiple incidents from their past that were traumatic as well. These lead them into further incidents of trauma as a result of mental health deterioration from the initial trauma.
Trauma impacts a person’s life tremendously in all areas. Their emotional health is often extremely damaged that functioning in day to day activities such as work and school become difficult. Repeated absences are common and a pattern of emotional breakdowns become the reason for their fatigue and lack of motivation. Even with medication, many struggle to live life smoothly.
Therefore, with their limited scope in daily functioning, their social skills become limited and their ability to sustain long term relationships become problematic. They may move frequently or struggle with interpersonal interaction to the point where people stay away from them due to their unpredictability. Those who remain by their side are true gems. They possess an understanding that is shared by few. Even then, survivors of repeated trauma may retreat from these people from time to time. It is understanding by these support networks that enable the relationship to continue when the person has finally decided to reengage.
I have many example of clients I work with and their patterns of abuse impacting their interpersonal relationships. Often even family abandon them due to lack of understanding as victims tend to be emotionally unstable and unpredictable in their actions.
Personally I can say that I have struggled for years with maintaining relationships. I make friends very quickly and those friendships die as quickly as they began. I realise that abrupt changes in my mood and behaviour have pushed people away but even when I try some people can not understand that it becomes hard to give to another person when you are currently experiencing or reliving trauma.
I’ve had years of child sexual abuse, periods of homelessness, abandonment, repeated sexual attacks from various men (some of whom I thought were friends) three domestic violent relationships, two of which were extremely physically and sexually violent and I was a child during the war back in my homeland. I witnessed and experienced several incidents throughout my childhood which impacted my relationships and my future decisions in men. My instincts were damaged and I trusted many people much too easily.
As a result of this trauma, I developed depression initially, then anxiety and now BPD and complex PTSD. Whenever I am in a situation where my body reacts and triggers feelings from those incidents, my behaviour and mood changes for a week if not more. I have a highly sensitive startle reflex and feel intense fear when a man yells at me or tells me that I have done something wrong.
I resort to any sexual act to put myself in their good books again and to feel some sort of closeness, no matter how small. I know that the closeness I feel I create in my head therefore I don’t feel connected to the person, only to the act, which I am yet to uncover reasons as to why. As a result of these sexual encounters with almost anyone, my networks with people are clouded with sex. And many of those relationships end when they find partners or when things start going sour because of my reactions when I feel I am being dominated.
I need to work on maintaining real friendships that do not need sex to bind them. Hopefully when I start my new DBT program I will be well on my way.