You've probably heard of PTSD--post-traumatic stress disorder--and thought it only happens to combat veterans and paramedics. The truth is, the biggest cause of PTSD is sexual trauma.
You may not be affected seriously enough that what you’re going through qualifies as post-traumatic stress disorder, but there's a good chance you’re suffering from post-traumatic stress, that is, you’re experiencing many of the symptoms of PTSD. In a million ways, you relive the trauma in your body--even if you don’t remember what happened.
PTSD is not anxiety. Anxiety is about the future, and PTSD is about the past. It’s a delayed psychological response to traumatic events, and it manifests itself as reliving the trauma through:
- intrusive thoughts,
- night terrors,
- “flashbacks” where you relive what happened or the emotions around what happened
- bodily reactions such as flinching,
- poor concentration
- being constantly "on guard" or being easily startled
- finding yourself avoiding things that remind you of the trauma
- feeling detached or numb, or
- completely "spacing out."
You may come across the term C-PTSD which stands for complex PTSD, such as that caused by prolonged sexual abuse. It’s actually the type of PTSD I deal with the most.