5 Daily Self-Care Exercises for Abuse Survivors

Unfortunately, being a survivor of trauma or abuse is exceedingly common. According to the National Children’s Alliance, nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S. annually. And according to the Center for Disease Control’s 2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, nearly 1 in 4 adult women and approximately 1 in 7 adult men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

While it is challenging to be a survivor of abuse, the journey to a place of peace and acceptance can be an empowering one. No matter if the abuse you endured was recent or long ago, a daily self-care regimen will help you cope with what still affects you today.

1. Quality Sleep

Ensuring you have adequate sleep on a nightly basis is an essential component of maintaining optimum physical, mental, and emotional health. Fundamentally, your body needs regular rest to operate properly. A good night’s sleep will uplift your mood and energy, improve your memory and help keep stress levels at a minimum.

2. Meditate

Setting aside just five to ten minutes a day for some quiet reflection can help boost your immune system, manage stress, help you focus, and boost your mood, to name just a few of the many health benefits. Find an easy or beginner meditation to follow with a Google search, smartphone app, or the free meditation exercises available on YouTube.

3. Exercise

Finding some forms of enjoyable exercise will help you feel more energized. Exercise is also a great physical outlet to release pent-up emotions you likely have as a result of your abuse or trauma. Try taking up walking, jogging, yoga or anything you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to do anything wholly unpleasant or push yourself too hard; exercise is an act of self-care, not a punishment.

4. Positive Affirmations

It’s all too common for abuse survivors to feel shame about it and blame themselves; for that reason, it’s important to program yourself with positive thoughts and beliefs. You can tell yourself, for example: “I am valuable,” “I am worthy,” “I am capable,” “I am strong,” “I am intelligent.” Pinpoint negative self-talk and counter those thoughts with positive affirmations.

5. Support

Engage your support system by calling a friend or family member, joining a support group and/or finding a therapist. If your support system is lacking, use a smartphone app or the Meetup website to find a local, like-minded group and make some new friends. Sharing your struggles with people who understand and care about your well-being is an important aspect of your healing journey.

 

Are you a survivor of trauma or abuse? A licensed mental health professional can help you so you don’t have to go through this alone. Give our office a call today so we can set up a time to talk.

 

SOURCES

National Statistics on Child Abuse

Are They an Online Pest, or an Online Stalker? Knowing When to Get Help

Online stalking and harassment is becoming more common. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2017 Online Harassment survey, 41% of Americans have been personally subjected to harassing behavior online, and an even larger number (66%) has witnessed these behaviors directed at others.

The incredible popularity of social media sites and apps make it all too easy for people to stalk others online. If you’re being harassed by someone online, you might wonder: are they just a pest, or are you being stalked?

There is some less sincere online pestering that can be shrugged off or ignored. Sometimes name calling or attempts to embarrass you can be stopped by simply reporting the individual’s behavior, blocking them, or both. However, if you feel like it’s more than annoyance and is starting to cross the line, trust your gut. Here are some signs that your online bully is taking things way too far.

Follows Your Social Media

Stalkers will want to watch everything you’re saying and doing online. They might reply to comments, share your tweets, or like your posts. Pay close attention to see if there’s anyone in particular who spends too much time following your every move.

Unwanted Repeated Contact

Someone who’s stalking you may send repeated emails, messages, calls, or texts that are notably more frequent or numerous than what would be normal. This could also include calls that disconnect when you answer or other ways of forcing you to act or respond, whether or not the person explicitly communicates with you during the event. Repeated contact from someone you don’t see or talk to on a regular basis, or who you don’t know very well, is a classic red flag.

Unwanted Gifts

If someone you don’t know well or are not interested in is sending you unwanted flowers or gifts despite the fact you’ve made it clear the gifts and attention are unwanted, this is a sure sign that they’ve developed an unhealthy interest in you.

Finds Your Private Information

Stalkers will be obsessed with finding out more about you, and can find personal information on you by paid searches on the internet or searching public records.

Shows Up in Public Places

If your online pest suspiciously keeps turning up at places you’re going to, this is a very possible sign that you’re being stalked. They could be scrutinizing you or your family or friend’s social media accounts in order to learn where you’re going and what you’re doing.

Threatens You

A stalker may threaten you, your loved ones, your property and/or your pets if you fail to give them the attention or affection they desire. However, even stalkers who do not make any threats or seem to be an obvious sort of danger are, in fact, incredibly dangerous. Because a stalking situation can turn ugly in the blink of an eye and when you least expect it, it’s important to take every stalking situation seriously.

 

If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you feel you’re being stalked, don’t communicate with your stalker. Keep all evidence and maintain a log showing the date, time and how you were harassed. Notify police and consider getting a court order to keep the stalker away from you if necessary. Remember, you should always take threats or stalking of any kind seriously; inform authorities as well as your family, loved ones, and anyone else that may be in the stalker’s line of sight so appropriate precautions can be taken.

Are you being stalked or harassed, and need the advice and support of a licensed mental health professional? Call my office today, and let’s schedule a time to talk.

 

SOURCES

Online Harassment 2017

5 Signs You’re in an Abusive Relationship

At some point in life, most of us have experienced being in a toxic relationship, whether we’re aware of it or not. People of all ages, nationalities and sexual orientations can find themselves in an unhealthy relationship, confused as to how they got there, or perhaps even unsure the situation is unhealthy.

While physical abuse is obvious, mental and emotional abuse can be subtle. It can also be particularly hard to notice things are wrong when you suffer from low self-worth. Abusive behavior can seem right to those who don’t know their own value.

Here are 5 signs you’re in an abusive relationship.

1. Undermining
When you try to speak with your partner, do they refuse to hear your side? Do they deny everything you say to the point of questioning your sanity? Do you question your own? Having disagreements is normal, but a partner who refuses to have an open conversation is problematic.

2. Isolating You from Others 
If you feel you need the love, support and energy of close friends and family, but your partner isolates you from them, this is a sign of abuse. It could be subtle, pretending to be sick or in a funk to get you to stay home with them instead; or it could be more obvious, as in forbidding you to see certain people.

3. Put Downs
Saying something you know will be hurtful to someone is a form of verbal abuse. You are intentionally causing them pain. Though it may be said in jest, the humor may simply be a cover for cruelty.

If your partner is constantly putting you down or intentionally pushing your buttons, this is a sign of disrespect and even hostility.

4. Using the Guilt Card
Much abuse comes in the form of manipulation, and guilt is one of the easiest ways to manipulate another’s emotions to get them to do what you want. If you feel you are being manipulated through guilt to the point where you’re ready to give up any power you have in the relationship, this is a sign something may be going on. For instance, it is natural and healthy for a person to need time alone. Does your partner guilt you into spending your alone time with them?

5. Controlling Your Behavior
This could mean a broad range of things, from controlling how you dress to what you say and where you go. Again, it may be subtle. Maybe they buy you clothes often and tease you about your sense of style, or lack thereof. Maybe they tease you and say that you sound “silly” not knowing what you’re talking about regarding politics. This is disrespectful and abusive.

How to Recover from an Abusive Relationship

Learn how to spot controlling behaviors so you can be clear about what is happening to you.
Become your own greatest strength and support by beginning to trust your instincts, thoughts, and feelings.
Surround yourself with those who love and respect you and want the best for you.

You may also want to seek guidance from a trained counselor. They can help you see reality clearly and offer strategies to extract yourself from the relationship so you can begin to heal.

If you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship and are interested in exploring treatment options, please be in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may help.

Strategies for Talking to an Abused or Neglected Child

For many of us, we remember our childhood fondly with images of birthday parties, family holidays or playing in the park with friends. But for approximately 6 million children in the United States this year, their childhood will also include memories of abuse.

It’s impossible to understand why anyone would want to harm an innocent child, yet every year approximately 3 million cases of child abuse and neglect are reported in the United States. When you’re in contact with children, whether they’re children of your own, children in your extended family or children you interact with through the course of employment or volunteer work, a child that’s been a victim of abuse may decide to divulge to you their experience of abuse or neglect.

Listen

As the child is talking to you, be silent and listen. Let them talk freely. When they pause or stop talking, your calm silence and attention may prompt them to say more.

Calm

As the child is talking, it’s important to stay calm and steady, yet caring. Don’t cry, get upset or display any negative emotion as they may feel they’re being punished or shamed. It’s natural for you to feel upset or angry, but be sure to express your anger or upset to the appropriate people.

When you speak or ask questions of the child, be aware of your tone. Ask questions for the purpose of reporting pertinent details to the proper authorities, and avoid leading questions. Open-ended questions are best.

Believe

Believe the child’s report, and let them know they are believed. Now is not the time to assess validity, determine details or do detective work. You might want to say something such as, “I believe you. It’s good that you told me.”

Reassure

Re-establish safety with the child by reassuring them that they are loved and cared for, and that they did nothing wrong and are not in trouble. Free them from self-blame by letting them know it isn’t their fault. You can say something such as, “Nothing that happened is your fault” or “You did nothing to make this happen.”

Don’t restrict the child from play or fun activities unless necessary for their safety. They may see restrictions as punishment.

Get Help

Do not alert or confront the alleged offender. Call the local police or Child Protective Services/Department of Children and Family Services in your area as soon as possible to make a report.

Above all, it’s important that the child receives support and assistance immediately. If your child or a child you know has been the victim of abuse and you need the help of a licensed professional, please contact me today to set up an appointment.

Healing from Childhood Emotional Neglect

Many of us were raised with the notion that kids are meant “to be seen and not heard,” meaning ‘don’t speak until you are spoken to.” While this idea may have only meant to keep the volume down at the Thanksgiving table, it can have negative ramifications on a child’s psyche.

Worse still, there are many children who suffer from Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). These children were raised to believe that not only do their ideas not matter, but neither do their feelings or needs.

Though the words may never have been said, the actions, or lack of, announced loud and clear: You don’t matter.

These children grow up to become adults who still believe they don’t matter, and that they shouldn’t burden others with their needs or feelings. But this cycle of worthlessness can be broken.

Here are 3 ways you can heal from childhood emotional neglect:

  1. Embrace Your Needs and Emotions

You most likely grew up believing your own needs and emotions were the enemy. You may have even been made to feel ashamed because of them.

In order to heal you must embrace your needs and emotions and invite them to play an active role in your life. You can do this by listening to yourself and honoring the way you feel. When understood and managed, emotions can propel us and help facilitate positive change.

  1. Invite People into Your Life

Growing up, you might have felt like adults were the enemy. After all, it was the adults in your life that made you feel worthless. As an adult, you may have a natural instinct to keep people at a safe distance, to “protect” yourself. But, in order to heal, you have to stop pushing people away and, instead, invite them into your life. When we form relationships with genuine, caring and honest people, we feel good about ourselves while adding value to our lives.

  1. Get to Know Who You Really Are

Survivors of CEN all have one thing in common: they don’t really know themselves. That’s because the people in their lives who should know them the best, their family, never really took the time to get to know them.

But now is the time for you to fully recognize the truth, you are absolutely worth knowing and it is your responsibility to get to know yourself. Knowing who you are, what you like, want, need, love, value, desire in this life will give you a firm foundation from which to propel yourself into an awesome future.

Recovering from any kind of emotional trauma is not easy. It is a personal journey that will contain many highs and lows. But taking the journey, one step at a time, will lead you to a wonderful life, one that you deserve.

If you or a loved one is suffering from CEN and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

Why Anger is Different from Other Emotions

Of all the emotions, anger is perhaps the one that most people have the hardest time dealing with. That’s most likely because anger is not like the other emotions. It is unique. In fact, a 2017 survey by the Mental Health Foundation of 2000 people found that 28% are sometimes worried about the level of anger that they feel.

While feeling anger can have negative consequences, anger, in general, can move us toward a happier and healthier life.

Here are 5 ways anger is not like other emotions.

  1. It’s Motivating

Anger gives us energy. And while other emotions tend to make us withdraw from others and life, anger causes us to want to engage. Anger is the motivator that gets us to interact with other people, perhaps those we feel are negatively impacting our life. Anger is what often catapults us into social situations and events that are necessary to bring about change.

Anger is one activating emotion.

  1. Anger is Complicated

Anger is not a singular experience, but rather a grouping of feelings. When we become angry, it is because we first feel something else: marginalized, hurt, disrespected, vulnerable, or neglected. In this way, anger is much more complicated than other emotions.

  1. It Yearns to be Expressed 

Other emotions can simply be felt silently, but not anger. It wants to be famous, a star, something that everyone knows about. Anger insists that it be expressed out loud. Unfortunately, most people misdirect their anger, erupting at the wrong times and at the wrong people.

  1. It Can Be Turned Inward or Outward

While we are directing that anger outwardly, and sometimes toward the wrong people, we can just as easily direct it inward toward ourselves. We generally don’t even realize we are doing it until we have done emotional damage.

  1. Anger is Hazardous to Your Health

While feeling sad is uncomfortable, being angry is downright bad for your health. Research has discovered that individuals prone to anger are more at risk for heart attacks and cancer.

While anger can be destructive to relationships and our health, it can also energize us and lead to positive life changes, if harnessed properly. The keys to using anger in a healthy way are to become aware of it when you feel it, recognize the real cause of it and commit to interpreting its message so you can make any necessary changes.

If you are having trouble dealing with feelings of anger and are interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.