STEPS IN THE HEALING OF TRAUMA
By Kim Kubal
This is a unique set of steps for survivors of trauma as they go through the intense experience of healing from abuse. This is based on my own healing from trauma. Please note these steps do not necessarily follow in this order, and vary with each survivor.
This is characterized as shock and disbelief. Survivors are taught from an early age they won’t be believed which feeds directly into their own desire for it not to be true. Then the reality and shock of the abuse starts to permeate one’s entire system and shatters one’s world view, familial ties, relationships and relationship to oneself and one’s environment. Added to this dynamic, is the fact that there is little or no community support.
This stage can produce severe forms of anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive sexual feelings and thoughts, loss of appetite, compulsive eating. Emotional distress can cause distractions such as addictions, self-harm, dissociation, keeping busy.
Outward expressions of anger can cause hostility, rage, explosive behavior or turned inwards can cause depression, fear, self-mutilation. This is also characterized by guilt/self-blame.
Buying time to accept the reality of the situation – “what if……/”If only……..”
Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, withdrawal from friends, family, society in general, loss of pleasure, avoidance, extreme anxiety, preoccupation with death, panic, confusion, fearfulness. Survivors take on the responsibility for what happened and blame themselves. Depression can cause the survivor to self-medicate through addictions and self-harm in order not to feel.
The survivor starts to experience the many losses associated with trauma – loss of a safe childhood, loss of love, loss of friends and support from the community.
Grief can again cause the survivor to self-medicate through addictions and self-harm.
6. EMOTIONAL RELEASE WORK
Venting the anger with a bat, tennis racket or pillows by oneself or with the help of a therapist releases the rage and frees up one’s energy, so that the rage does not turn inward or outward. By doing this work i.e. by holding the bat over the head, inhaling and then screaming, grunting or whatever words come forth, the person can ultimately feel strong and powerful without anyone being hurt. Continual expression of one’s rage eventually leads to deeper bottom line emotional pain where full emotional expression and catharsis can take place.
The survivor’s personal identity and belief system becomes integrated.