PTSD - how historic child abuse trials activate memories for other adult survivors
Deborah Ramsay, Psychodynamic Therapist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford discusses post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the impact recent historic abuse trials can have on adults who suffered child abuse:
“The daily news coverage seems to be full of headlines of new investigations of historical child abuse. While police investigations and greater exposure of this issue in our society are welcomed, and more survivors feel empowered to talk about what has happened to them, those that have suffered can find themselves having conflicting feelings from the activated memories of their own traumatic experiences.
"The experiences of child abuse can stay with survivors for a long time; it is often buried and held inside. Adults that have a history of child abuse can continue to suffer in ways that can include PTSD, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, anger, guilt, learning difficulties, physical illness, and disturbing memories or thoughts. They can also be prone to self-harm, drug addiction or alcohol addiction, have difficulties in relationships or parenting, or become involved in crime.
"Counselling can help those who have been abused by providing a safe environment in which they can develop a trusting therapeutic relationship. Survivors are supported in exploring the past at their own pace, confronting the confusion created by the abuser, and supported to make sense of what is real and not real.
"Often, counselling is the first experience that survivors have of being truly understood in a way that others who haven’t been abused are unable to manage. They are heard and believed and experience empathy rather than judgement.
"There are many different types of counselling and many different counsellors. It can sometimes take survivors more than one attempt to find that particular therapist they can best relate to, or for them to be in the right place to talk. People often believe that it is a weakness or failing to accept support and help, but it takes a brave person to admit that they are struggling, be vulnerable and face their fears. Those that do, have started their journey towards knowing themselves and developing a new way of being that can bring some acceptance and healing in their life.”