Physical Abuse and Its Long Term Effects | Kati Morton



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Physical abuse is defined as the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. This could be pushing, pinching, biting, throwing things at you, choking you, pinning you down, the list goes on and on. Overall just know that if anyone ever does something that puts you in physical danger that is abuse, and it’s not okay. And before I go any further, I want to mention that anyone can be physically abused. It doesn’t matter if we are big and strong or small and weak. Anyone can be a victim.
Along with PTSD and CPTSD those who were physically abused as children can also struggle with depression and anxiety disorders. I believe this occurs because if someone who is supposed to take care of us is hurting us it can make us think something is wrong with us and it’s something we did. This low self esteem only feeds the hopeless feelings that can come along with depression, and the intense worry that is associated with anxiety disorders. They also found that physical abuse is connected to alcohol and drug use as well as eating disorders. Like I have talked about over and over again, substance abuse and eating disorders are both just unhealthy coping skills. Meaning that we are doing those things as a way to numb out from what’s really going on in our life.
And finally their research shows that we can also suffer from medical issues (not just when the abuse is going on) but they find that when we get older we are more likely to have ulcers, high blood pressure, asthma, and allergies. The researchers believe that this has to do with living in a very stressful environment for many years. That kind of stress can overwhelm our system and cause medical complications for us later in life.
Let’s get into what we can do to help ourselves heal and hopefully prevent some of these long term effects:
1. Talk therapy! Talking through our trauma in detail but it’s important to try because it gives your brain another chance to process all you went through so that it no longer affects us in our day to day life.
2. CBT (trauma focused): what they do in this type of therapy is work with you on relaxation training (like deep breathing and muscle relaxation skills), emotion regulation (identifying feelings) and having tools to manage all that we may feel, working on a trauma narrative and processing (discussing the overwhelming events in the form of a story, and processing the associated feelings), and finally they work with you on learning cognitive coping strategies (identifying and replacing negative thoughts).
3. Medication: Many people who have PTSD also find themselves struggling with anxiety and depression. Therefore, medication has been found to be very helpful for for those who are struggling. If you are interested in looking into that further, please contact your doctor.
4. EMDR: This stands for Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing. In this type of treatment you follow someone’s finger, light or even a buzzer in each hand. This helps our brain reprocess the traumatic information and help us more quickly heal from it. Kind of like REM sleep, how our eyes go from right to left, this mimics that sensation to give our brain another opportunity to process the trauma. Now there are many types of therapy and treatment out there, so if one of these don’t work, don’t give up hope. Just make sure you like your therapist, connect with them, and feel comfortable enough to begin sharing. That’s the most important thing!! Bottom line, please reach out for help if you have experienced any type of abuse or think you may be suffering from PTSD, because like I said, it only get worse over time, and there are amazing treatment options out there to help us heal and live the life we want and deserve!

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I’m Kati Morton, a licensed therapist making Mental Health videos!

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