Shirley Davis understands CPTSD! Most people have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder that afflicts many men and women returning from a war zone. It is characterized by flashbacks, unstable mood, and survivor’s remorse. However, many have never heard of a condition that often develops in childhood and changes the course of the child’s life forever, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).
For a good definition of CPTSD, we turned to Beauty After Bruises, an organization that offers outreach focused on adult survivors of childhood trauma who have complex PTSD with or without the presence of a dissociative disorder. Their definition of complex post-traumatic stress disorder as follows:
“Complex PTSD comes in response to chronic traumatization over the course of months or, more often, years. This can include emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuses, domestic violence, living in a war zone, being held captive, human trafficking, and other organized rings of abuse, and more. While there are exceptional circumstances where adults develop C-PTSD, it is most often seen in those whose trauma occurred in childhood. For those who are older, being at the complete control of another person (often unable to meet their most basic needs without them), coupled with no foreseeable end in sight, can break down the psyche, the survivor’s sense of self, and affect them on this deeper level. For those who go through this as children, because the brain is still developing and they’re just beginning to learn who they are as an individual, understand the world around them, and build their first relationships – severe trauma interrupts the entire course of their psychologic and neurologic development.”
CPTSD forms in response to repeated interpersonal violence that leaves the victim, a child or adult, feeling trapped with no hope of escape or of imminent death.
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a developmental trauma disorder (DTD) which is wildly different than post-traumatic stress disorder that normally, but not always, forms in adulthood.
The trauma model states that children who experience chronic sexual, psychological, physical abuse and neglect develop CPTSD. However, it also forms in kids who suffer slavery, human trafficking, working in sweatshops, war or survivors of concentration camp environments and cults. The trauma which causes this disorder may also include having experienced betrayal, defeat, and shame.
The reason children are vulnerable to forming CPTSD is that children do not have the cognitive or emotional skills to understand what is happening to them. Since the abuse and neglect, they are experiencing is normally perpetrated by people they know and trust, to admit to themselves that these same people want to hurt them is akin to emotional suicide so they use other means to manage the trauma.
The psychological implications are enormous leaving the child with a complex mess of their core beliefs about who they are what they are. This tangled mess becomes even more complicated by flashbacks, nightmares and other symptoms that are worse in adulthood.
Often, children experiencing interpersonal traumatic events experience a conundrum in their minds and some choose to dissociate the events away.
I have been involved with an organization that was founded in Hawaii known as the CPTSD Foundation. The foundation offers hope and help through free blog posts, interactions through YouTube lessons offered by its founder and President Athena Moberg.
The CPTSD Foundation also offers other services that are low-cost and open to anyone including:
Daily Calls. The CPTSD Foundation is proud to offer a revolutionary approach with live, interactive calls that include screen shares and downloadable formats. Daily calls are facilitated by certified coaches, licensed clinicians, counselors, and highly respected advocates in the field of trauma recovery. The foundation facilitates a safe and supportive group atmosphere where everyone’s voice is respected, heard, and appreciated.
The Healing Book Club. We have a book club where survivors can gather virtually and read interesting books to increase their knowledge of trauma recovery while interacting with others in a safe group with other survivors.
Support Groups. The CPTSD Foundation is honored to help support survivors of all types of trauma by offering secret and safe support groups on Facebook. Survivors can come and receive the support they need and deserve in a place where their voice is heard, their feelings are validated, and where encouragement is always in abundance.
It has been my privilege to write blog posts for the CPTSD Foundation for two years running and encourage any survivor to check out our services and our site.
Our only goal is to bring hope to survivors and to encourage them to move forward in their healing whether they are in therapy or not.
Shirley Davis Says, “Let’s Define CPTSD” was authored by Shirley Davis. Shirley is an advocate, speaker and author focusing on the disorder she understands best, her own, dissociative identity disorder (DID). Shirley lives in rural Illinois with her brother, his wife and their two young sons. She enjoys writing and spending time with her four-year old nephew Michael. Shirley can be found on Twitter at the address @ShirleyDavis18 and on LinkedIn under her full name. Shirley Davis also owns and operates a website dedicated to spreading awareness about dissociative identity disorder that is found at https://www.morgan6062.com.
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