what is trauma? WHAT IS ABUSE?

Trauma occurs when an individual is exposed to an event by either witnessing or experiencing an event(s) where actual or threatened death or serious injury is involved to yourself or to others. Such events are extremely stressful.

For example, trauma can occur from a car accident, harassment, bullying, from being molested or assaulted, abortion, domestic violence, living with an alcoholic, catastrophic events, or other such events.


The Canadian National Clearing House defines sexual abuse as, “the use of a child for any form of sexual activity or behaviour by an adult or adolescent. It is a betrayal of trust by someone who has power over the child”. 92% of the time, perpetrators are family, relatives, and friends - people that you know, not strangers!

1 in 3 girls/women are reported to have experienced sexual abuse or assault, and 1 in 6 boys/men have experienced the same. You are not alone!

Many people who have been abused fear that they will not be believed. It is important to tell someone who you trust; and if they don’t believe you or don’t do anything about it, keep telling someone. You can call a social worker, therapist, or family doctor and they will help you through. There are many people who will believe you and support you.

People who have experienced abuse, assault, or trauma are often consumed by surviving (symptoms of the trauma) which prevents them from focusing upon addressing the larger issue within their own life (the actual abuse, assault, or trauma). Yet once you are able to address the actual incident(s) and begin the healing process, your life will begin to reassemble itself and you will notice changes in all areas of your life. You can heal from abuse, enabling you to live a full, satisfying and happy life.


(taken from http://www.thereislifeafterabuse.com/Page.html)

Not all scars have physical marks, but verbal, emotional, and mental abuse can be even more harmful.

Verbal/emotional abuse is anything that the abuser says or does to the victim which causes the victim to be afraid, lowers the victim's self esteem, or manipulates the victim's emotions in order to control the victim's behavior. It is designed to control another person through the use of fear, humiliation, and verbal or physical assaults. It can include verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics like intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased.

Emotional abuse is like brainwashing in that it systematically wears away at the victim's self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in her perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it be by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of "guidance" or teaching, the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient loses all sense of self as it slowly eats away at the victim's self-esteem until she is incapable of judging the situation realistically. She has become so beaten down emotionally that she blames herself for the abuse. Her self-esteem is so low that she clings to the abuser.

Following are types of emotional abuse:

DOMINATION: Someone wants to control your every action. They have to have their own way, and will resort to threats to get it. When you allow someone else to dominate you, you can lose respect for yourself.

VERBAL ASSAULTS: berating, belittling, criticizing, name calling, screaming, threatening, excessive blaming, and using sarcasm and humiliation. Blowing your flaws out of proportion and making fun of you in front of others. Over time, this type of abuse erodes your sense of self confidence and self-worth.

ABUSIVE EXPECTATIONS: The other person places unreasonable demands on you and wants you to put everything else aside to tend to their needs. It could be a demand for constant attention, frequent sex, or a requirement that you spend all your free time with the person. But no matter how much you give, it's never enough. You are subjected to constant criticism, and you are constantly berated because you don't fulfill all this person's needs.

EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL: The other person plays on your fear, guilt, compassion, values, or other "hot buttons" to get what they want. This could include threats to end the relationship, the "cold shoulder," or use other fear tactics to control you.

UNPREDICTABLE RESPONSES: Drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts (This is part of the definition of Borderline Personality Disorder). Whenever someone in your life reacts very differently at different times to the same behavior from you, tells you one thing one day and the opposite the next, or likes something you do one day and hates it the next, you are being abused with unpredictable responses.
This behavior is damaging because it puts you always on edge. You're always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and you can never know what's expected of you. You must remain hypervigilant, waiting for the other person's next outburst or change of mood.
An alcoholic or drug abuser is likely to act this way. Living with someone like this is tremendously demanding and anxiety provoking, causing the abused person to feel constantly frightened, unsettled and off balance.

GASLIGHTING: The other person may deny that certain events occurred or that certain things were said. You know differently. The other person may deny your perceptions, memory and very sanity. (If a borderline has been disassociating, they may indeed remember reality differently than you do.)

CONSTANT CHAOS: The other person may deliberately start arguments and be in constant conflict with others. The person may be "addicted to drama" since it creates excitement.

Verbal abuse is usually hidden. It takes a long time to recover. It is very traumatizing. It can go on for the length of a long relationship without becoming physical. Also, it precedes and is part of physically abusive and threatening relationships--ones where a person is hit, pushed, shoved, or witnesses demonstrations of violence. Verbal abuse is so much like mind control that the victim may doubt her sanity.

Verbal or nonverbal abuse of a spouse or intimate partner may include:

  1. threatening or intimidating to gain compliance

  2. destruction of the victim’s personal property and possessions, or threats to do so

  3. violence to an object (such as a wall or piece of furniture) or pet, in the presence of the intended victim, as a way of instilling fear of further violence

  4. yelling or screaming

  5. name-calling

  6. constant harassment

  7. embarrassing, making fun of, or mocking the victim, either alone within the household, in public, or in front of family or friends

  8. criticizing or diminishing the victim’s accomplishments or goals

  9. not trusting the victim’s decision-making

  10. telling the victim that they are worthless on their own, without the abuser

  11. excessive possessiveness, isolation from friends and family

  12. excessive checking-up on the victim to make sure they are at home or where they said they would be

  13. saying hurtful things while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and using the substance as an excuse to say the hurtful things

  14. blaming the victim for how the abuser acts or feels

  15. making the victim remain on the premises after a fight, or leaving them somewhere else after a fight, just to “teach them a lesson”

  16. making the victim feel that there is no way out of the relationship

If you have been abused or assaulted, it is not your fault. 

Call 705-812-9929 to talk to someone today

about healing from past or present trauma.

Common signs of

Assault - Abuse - TRAUMA:

  1. feeling overwhelmed

  2. feel unable to cope

  3. feel confused and insecure

  4. panic attacks / anxiety

  5. feel disconnected from your body

  6. feel alone, feels like it has never happened to anyone else

  7. don’t want to talk about what happened

  8. recurring images, thoughts or feelings  of event

  9. feel depressed, despair

  10. low self-esteem

  11. feel dirty

  12. feelings of guilt / shame / embarrassment

  13. feelings of fear / horror / helplessness / feel violated

  14. distressing dreams of event, nightmares

  15. feel like you are reliving the event

  16. discomfort or distress when exposed to related items, people, words, or other cues

  17. avoidance of related thoughts, images, feelings, places, people

  18. unable to remember parts or all of incident

  19. use of drugs, alcohol, or self-harm (i.e. carving) to avoid re-experiencing traumatic event mentally or physically - as a way to cope.

  20. decreased interest or participation in regular activities

  21. feel detached from others

  22. unable to feel all emotions as before

  23. feel numb

  24. feel you will not have a long future (i.e. don’t expect to have a career, family, marriage, children, normal life span).

  25. difficulty falling / staying asleep / insomnia

  26. feel irritable or have angry outbursts

  27. difficulty concentrating

  28. looking over your shoulder / feel unsafe

  29. startle easily

  30. self-hatred

  31. lack of control or power

  32. fear of intimacy

  33. suicide attempts or thoughts of suicide

  34. eating disorders

  35. children express symptoms through their play in repetitive themes.

If you or someone you know exhibits some of these common symptoms due to a traumatic event, abuse, or assault, speak to a social worker, family doctor, or other professional for help.

Examples of Verbal/Emotional Abuse:

  1. Name-calling

  2. Put-downs

  3. Insulting remarks about the victim, the victim's family or friends

  4. Yelling and screaming

  5. Threats of violence and harm

  6. Racial slurs

  7. Intentionally embarrassing the victim in front of other people

  8. Isolating the victim from friends and family

  9. Telling the victim what to do

  10. Making the victim feel responsible for causing the violence

  11. Stalking

  12. Harming or threatening to harm the victim's pets

  13. Threatening to commit suicide

  14. Threatening to expose the victim's secrets (such as personal/private sexual information, sexual orientation, or immigration status)

  15. Threatening to take away the victim's children

  16. Threatening

  17. Intimidating

  18. Criticizing

  19. Displaying jealousy

  20. Using public humiliation

  21. Putting down the partner

  22. Isolating

  23. Dominating

  24. Using the Children

  25. Yelling

  26. Degrading women in general

  27. Belittling accomplishments

  28. Constant blaming

  29. Apologizing and making false promises to end the abuse

  30. Isolating from others

  31. Ridiculing, criticizing appearance

  32. Ignoring, withholding affection

  33. Abusing pets

  34. Accusing of having affairs

  35. Monitoring conversations

  36. Embarrassing in front of others

  37. Undermining authority wtih children

  38. Making account for time

  39. Constant telephone calls - "checking up"










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