The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an emotional response to a terrible event. People may experience trauma from a single event, like an accident, sexual assault or natural disaster. Or they may experience complex trauma from repeated events, like domestic violence, poverty or chronic illness. Whether we realize it or not, many of us are experiencing collective trauma from the events of this past year, with the pandemic, racial injustices and economic hardships. In this blog post, we will explore what trauma looks like, how trauma affects relationships and ways to get support.
What Does Trauma Look Like?
Trauma impacts the way we see the world. Its short-term effects may include shock or denial. More long-term effects are often characterized by unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, anxiety, fear, or nightmares. Trauma can even include physical symptoms, like headaches or nausea. For some, trauma can manifest as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While trauma can take a significant toll on an individual, it can also have a major strain on relationships.
How Trauma Affects Relationships
Both childhood trauma and trauma in adulthood can have a significant impact on our current relationships with our partners. These experiences may affect our attachment styles, or how we act in our relationships. Some people may isolate themselves and shut down. While others may find themselves in frequent arguments, and have difficulty resolving problems. Trauma can bring out complicated emotions, like helplessness, frustration, anger, confusion, or sadness. As a result, all of this can be projected onto a relationship and take a significant toll.
For individuals experiencing trauma, it’s important to communicate with your partner regularly so that they can know how to support you. For partners of someone experiencing trauma, you don’t need to try to fix the trauma or symptoms your partner is experiencing. Instead of taking things personally or making assumptions, try to communicate with your partner to better understand what they may need.
Ways to Get Support
If you’ve been experiencing trauma, it’s important to be patient and gentle with yourself. Connect with and lean on others when you can. Lastly, remind yourself that your emotional responses may not be a result of the present, but the past.
At Eugene Therapy, our compassionate therapists will listen to your story to better understand how trauma has impacted your life. Our therapists will be there as you explore your trauma, come to accept it and heal from it.
Another method we sometimes use for trauma and PTSD treatment is EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). EMDR can help you see disturbing material in a less distressing way. Ultimately, Eugene Therapy’s goal is to help you work through and heal from your trauma so that you can live a more peaceful, fulfilling life.