Responding to Trauma

At some time in your life you are likely to experience or witness a traumatic event. Those events that involve intense fear, helplessness or horror are more likely to result in a disabling response. Examples of traumatic events are criminal assault, sexual abuse, domestic violence and stalking. Common emotional responses include fear, guilt and anger. Common cognitive responses…

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Childhood Abuse and Depression

People who were abused or neglected as children have increased risk of depression. Childhood physical abuse increases the lifetime risk for depression. Child maltreatment increases the risk for current depression. Adults with a history of childhood sexual abuse report more depression symptoms than people who did not experience such trauma. Abused or neglected individual with depression are also more likely to…

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Sexual Assault

Women who become victims of sexual assault typically experience the victimization as a traumatic event, perceiving it as an emotional shock. Common reactions to this kind of trauma are:

  • Fear of losing control of their lives.
  • Re-experiencing the assault in thoughts and dreams.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Self-image frequently suffers; many women report feeling “dirty’ and shower frequently in an effort to be clean.
  • Sense of sadness, feeling “down”, and depressed.
  • It is not unusual to see disruption in relationships with others.
  • Loss of interest in sexual relations.
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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a crime. Women are at greater risk at home than on the street. Most violence in the home is committed by men. Women and children are most of the victims.

Domestic violence is any behavior which causes physical, sexual or psychological damage or causes someone to live in fear. Physical and sexual violence are the more obvious forms of violence. Rape within marriage is a crime in Victoria. Other forms of violence include making you think you are crazy, locking you in the house, threatening to kill the children, treating you like a servant, and so on. Some have said that these things are just as damaging as physical violence.

If you are in a violent relationship you may feel degraded and alone, afraid to tell anyone, worried about what others will think, afraid that it is your fault, scared that it will get worse if you leave, insecure about your children’s future, frustrated and sad because you have tried everything to change the situation, guilty about leaving, that you have failed as a wife and mother. You are not to blame about the violence. You have a right to be safe. You have the right to live a life free of violence.

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Sexually Abused Children

Every day many mothers face the awful reality of finding out that their children have been sexually abused. Most sexual abuse takes place within homes. In fact, it is usually committed by someone who is trusted by the child.

If the person who has abused your child is your partner, husband or boyfriend, you may experience a mixture of feelings. You will feel shocked, confused, disbelieving, numb, guilty, betrayed, frightened, hurt, a failure as a wife and mother, angry at him for his actions, at yourself for not being able to stop it and at your child for not telling you, worried about the consequences.

In retrospect many women say that they had a ‘gut feeling’ that something was not OK. But sexual abuse is the last thing that most people expect to be happening in their family. It is not your fault that you were not aware of it sooner.

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Children & Domestic Violence

Many children who witness domestic violence have been found to have higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems than other children. The impact varies according to their age, sex and role in the family. Some children feel responsible for the violence. They may think they are making things easier for their mother by not saying how they feel, by trying to be quieter, better able to cope.

While most children escape without physical injury they may bear emotional scares which in many cases can last a lifetime.

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Domestic Abuse and Child Abuse Study

Researchers at Oregon State University recently completed a study that suggests the way parents view their children is a critical factor in the potential risk of child abuse, and could even be more important than whether the parents are abusive to each other.

Results of the study have been published in the Journal of Family Psychology. OSU researchers say the relationship between domestic violence and child abuse is well known. For years, the generally accepted idea is that couples who engage in domestic abuse are more likely to abuse their children.

Experts have differing opinions on the reasons why.

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