Man is a social animal. From birth till death, we enter into different relationships. Some relationships are nurturing and nourish us while some may turn out to be abusive or destructive.
If we face sexual, physical or emotional abuse (abandonment, rejection or victimization) in our intimate relationships, it can have long term debilitating effects on our lives.
In psychological terms, the trauma that is caused by physical, sexual or emotional abuse within an intimate relationship setting is referred to as Post-Traumatic Relationship Syndrome (PTRS).
Here are 12 signs that indicate that a person might be suffering from Post traumatic relationship syndrome and what to do about it:
1) Changes in response and coping mechanism
Generally, a person has a wide range of coping mechanisms at his disposal and he utilizes them optimally by choosing the appropriate response from the entire range of options in a calm and relaxed state of mind.
But, if a person is suffering from Trauma, then the range of coping mechanisms available to him are very restricted. He is not able to access the calm state of mind and choose a situation appropriate response from a wide range of coping mechanisms.
His response and coping mechanisms mostly involve fear, terror, panic, horror, and rage.
2) Flashback and nightmares
If a person has gone through extreme relationship stress or undergone abuse in any form: physical, mental or emotional in intimate relationships, then it can have a long range effect on an individual’s psyche.
A person can start having flashbacks, hallucinations and vivid memories of the events that triggered trauma as if they are reliving it.
They can also start having nightmares of their partner yelling at them, cheating on them, betraying or abandoning them.
It can make a person extremely scared, vulnerable and hopeless because the haunting memories do not seem to leave them.
3) Anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive thoughts
If you have suffered from abuse in your intimate relationships, it can shake your entire world view.
It can shake your foundational beliefs like:
This world is a benign place or good things happen to good people or one is well equipped to handle crisis situations.
The mistrust and fear can give rise to persistent anxiety and panic attacks and a constant underlying feeling of living on the edge.
Sometimes people who have suffered from Traumatic relationships also get caught in the loop of obsessive thoughts. They keep on wondering “What was their fault?”, “What could they have done better?” and take a lot of time to come to terms and accept the situation and let go of the obsessive self-critical thoughts.
4) Feeling of suspicion and distrust
We are mostly off guard in our intimate relationships because we trust the other person to take care of our well being. But if we are abused by the same person whom we trusted wholeheartedly, it breaks our foundation of trust.
The survivors of PTRS tend to get into a hyper vigilance mode. They always have their guard up and become full of suspicion. They feel like the world is out there to get them and find it difficult to trust people easily.
5) Sleep disturbances
If your mind and heart are not at peace, it is almost impossible to get a good night’s sleep.
The pain and anxiety can manifest more profusely at night in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, night sweats. It can seriously hamper the sleep cycle of an individual and result in acute insomnia.
6) Persistent feelings of rage and anger
The feelings of pain and hurt can lead to extreme bitterness, rage and anger in an individual towards the perpetrator of trauma.
It also impacts their ability to see the brighter side of life and they may start hating even those things which they previously enjoyed.
7) Restlessness and listlessness
Depression and pain can manifest in two ways, it can either lead to extreme restlessness on one hand and listlessness on the other hand.
People who have suffered from PTRS can either become extremely sad or mourn a lot on one hand or emotionally numb on other hand. They can just shut down and check out emotionally in order to protect themselves from any further pain.