What Is Abuse?
Any action that intentionally harms another person – whether physically or mentally – is considered abuse. There are many different types of abuse, including:
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Sexual harassment and abuse
- Rape and sexual assault
- Spiritual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Elder abuse
- Financial abuse
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse
- Intimate partner abuse and relationship violence
Any form of abuse is illegal in the United States, and abusers can be charged with criminal penalties. While penalties may help stop the abuse or provide the victim with some closure, there’s still trauma that sticks around to torment the victim long after the abuse has ended.
What Is Trauma?
Trauma is an emotional response to abuse or other horrible event such as a car accident, rape, natural disaster, or the loss of a family member. This reaction to life-threatening and disturbing events can leave a lasting adverse effect on the victim and their social, emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual well-being. Examples of experiences that cause trauma include:
- Abuse of any kind.
- Racism, oppression, and discrimination.
- Living with someone who abuses drugs or alcohol.
- Living with someone who has mental health issues.
- Childhood neglect.
Trauma can result in psychological effects and mental health concerns, including:
- Anger. Survivors may harbor intense anger against the person who caused them harm, bystanders who did nothing to help, and even themselves.
- Anxiety. Trauma may make a survivor afraid of situations or people that remind them of their traumatic experience.d
- Depression. Those who survive a traumatic experience often have an overwhelming feeling of emptiness or sadness and struggle to enjoy activities they once did.
- Dissociation. Survivors may dissociate themselves to ease the fear and pain associated with their traumatic event. They often speak of confusion, numbness, or an out-of-body experience associated with the event.
- Mood issues. Mood swings and irritability are common amongst trauma survivors.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder. Survivors may avoid situations and settings that remind them of their traumatic experiences. They will also experience flashbacks, hypervigilance, nightmares, or other symptoms.
- Shame. A feeling that the survivor deserved what happened to them, they’re responsible, or they failed to stop it may hang over survivors.
- Self-destructive behaviors. Survivors may try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, self-harm, or neglecting their personal hygiene. Survivors often have low self-esteem due to their experiences.
- Trust issues. Anyone who has survived a traumatic experience may find it harder to trust situations and people.
Traumatic experiences can also affect relationships between survivors and their loved ones, community, or systems that support their needs, such as education or health.
What Are Common Treatments for Abuse and Trauma?
While all cases of abuse and trauma are different, there are several common treatments used by professionals everywhere. These treatments include short- and long-term medications and psychotherapy, often used together.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on changing the disturbing thought patterns that affect your life. Therapy sessions work to help survivors improve their symptoms, learn skills to deal with the traumatic experience, and restore their self-esteem. Depending on your needs, family therapy may be an option for you instead of, or in addition to, individual sessions.
Cognitive Processing Therapy
To examine how to figure out ways to live with your trauma, you may undergo cognitive processing therapy. This type of therapy is often a 12-week course of weekly sessions for 60 to 90 minutes, with you talking about your traumatic experiences and how your thoughts about them affect your life. You will then write about what happened in detail. This process allows you to consider anything beyond your control, letting you move forward and understand that it wasn’t your fault.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged exposure therapy helps you confront situations and experiences that remind you of your trauma. You will usually attend eight to 15 sessions of 90 minutes each, learning breathing techniques to help you deal with the anxiety associated with your traumatic experience. You will then list all of the things you’ve been avoiding to learn how to face them, one at a time. Your therapist may also have you recount the experience while recording it and ask you to listen to yourself to ease your symptoms.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
This type of therapy may not have you talking to your therapist about your experience at all. Instead, you will concentrate on what happened while listening to or watching something simple like a flashing light or sound. The idea behind eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is that you start to think about something positive, such as that light or sound, whenever you remember your trauma.
Stress Inoculation Training
Stress inoculation training teaches you breathing, massage techniques, or other ways to stop the negative thoughts by relaxing your body and mind. This type of therapy focuses on dealing with the stress of your traumatic experience and providing you with the skills to release that stress.
Often the brain of survivors process perceived threats differently due to a chemical imbalance that easily triggers the fight or flight response. This imbalance can make you feel on edge, while the process of constantly trying to shut down the fight or flight response, you may become removed or emotionally desensitized. Medications can help restore the balance in your brain and have an overall positive attitude on life, and feel more normal.
How Does NeuroHealth Treat Abuse and Trauma?
All abuse and trauma cases are unique, and your treatment plan needs to be personalized to meet your needs to regain your life. The professionals at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights offer neuropsychological assessments and pediatric neuropsychological assessments, as well as treatments created for each individual patient. The process allows our staff to diagnose our patients accurately and thoroughly. It then guides us in crafting a treatment plan for our child, teenage, and adult patients. The team at NeuroHealth also works very closely with schools to help them understand and adjust to the patient’s needs and educate parents about their child’s rights to academic accommodations.
If you or someone you love has experienced abuse or trauma, reach out to the professionals at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights to schedule an appointment. We will work with you to assess, diagnose, and treat your individual needs. You can schedule an appointment by phone at 847-499-1604 or use our secure online messaging system.