What is Trauma?
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” ― Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss
Do you have memories of past events that plague you? Are these memories eliciting unwanted reactions that affect your everyday life?
You don’t have to live like this.
Trauma is something that affects everyone. Whether you or someone you know has been through a traumatic event, the impact is widespread. Trauma occurs when negative events overwhelm the individual’s ability to cope with the situation (Paige, DeVore, Chang, & Whisenhunt, 2017). It can seem like the effects of the trauma may never go away because the coping skills built around the event are not working.
The scope of trauma is wide because there are so many different types of trauma. The prevalence of lifetime sexual abuse in women ranges from 15% to 25% and in 2008 it was found that 18.5% of veterans returning from the line of duty were experiencing symptoms that meet criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Depression (SAMHSA, 2017). Just as there are different types of trauma, there are also various symptoms that may occur as a result of trauma.
Symptoms of trauma might include (DSM-5):
- Exposure to an event that is potentially life-threatening or violent
- Distressing memories
- Avoidance of reminders of the trauma
- Inability to experience positive emotions
- Irritable behavior
- Sleep disturbance
- Exaggerated startle response
These symptoms can be very distressing and life-altering. If you or a loved one is suffering from any of these symptoms, do not wait for things to change. Schedule your appointment today and we can start working to make your life less painful.
If these symptoms are left untreated, it can cause dysfunction across many domains. Negative outcomes like lower quality of life and physical health problems are associated with the severity of Post-Traumatic Stress (Kugler, Phares, Salloum, & Storch, 2016). Once Post-Traumatic stress is causing impairment in the major areas of your life like in your work or social interactions, it is becoming disordered and needs effective treatment (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Common trauma disorders include (DSM-5):
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Acute Stress Disorder
- Adjustment Disorder
Trauma-focused psychotherapy is evidence-based and focuses on the original event(s) as well as the consequences associated with the symptoms (Park, Currier, Harris, & Slattery, 2017). Sometimes medications are also prescribed to aid the process of healing.
If these symptoms align with something you or a loved one has experienced, I can help.
Relational Causes of Trauma
“Domestic violence causes far more pain than the visible marks of bruises and scars. It is devastating to be abused by someone that you love and think loves you in return.” ―Dianne Feinstein
Do you feel unsafe with your partner? Do you feel hopeless and like your partner controls your every move or behavior?
It is possible to get out of this hopelessness.
On average, 20 people per minute are victims of physical abuse by an intimate partner in the United States (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2017). Although trauma may be caused by a wide range of negative life events, some of the most common traumatic symptoms are rooted in relationship problems.
Domestic violence, or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), is sadly common in the United States, and California is no exception. Families in the Encino area struggle with issues related to powerlessness. Domestic violence occurs when one partner engages in behaviors to maintain control and power over his/her partner (The Domestic Violence Hotline, 2017). This can cause the victim of the abuse to feel hopeless and under his/her partner’s control. There are different ways abuse can occur in these relationships, including:
- Physical abuse (e.g. hitting, kicking)
- Emotional abuse (e.g. insulting, isolating from family and friends)
- Sexual abuse (e.g. forcing into sexual behaviors, insulting in sexual ways)
- Financial abuse (e.g. preventing access to finances, stealing money)
- Digital abuse (e.g. demanding passwords, uses social media to monitor victim)
- Reproductive coercion (e.g. sabotaging birth control methods, refusing to use a condom)
Domestic violence generally begins with a partner slowly engaging in abusive behaviors, and then promising to better and never do it again. Another way this occurs is that the perpetrator begins to gaslight the victim, or make the victim question his/her sanity. This leads to a cycle where the victim is stuck in an unhealthy relationship. It is common for victims to feel as if they deserved the abuse they experienced, but this is part of the manipulation that the perpetrator actively engages in.
It is difficult to talk about domestic violence because a person that was previously trustworthy has been harmful. Domestic violence is also a predictor for higher rates of depression and suicidal behavior (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2017). Responses to domestic violence can be severe and can truly interfere with living a happy life. When safety is consistently threatened and helplessness is an ongoing emotion, the likelihood of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and depression is higher (Salcioglu, Urhan, Pirinccioglu, & Aydin, 2017). Survivors of domestic abuse can have symptoms of PTSD because they have felt so little control and safety.
The added difficulty to domestic violence is that in order to end the abuse, often the victim has to leave his/her partner. This can be incredibly difficult, as there are usually still romantic feelings involved in the relationship and it can feel like betrayal to leave or report the perpetrator. When domestic violence is reported, this can lead to the perpetrator acquiring jail time or charges, and often the victim has to recount the abuse to the proper authorities. Although reporting can be an incredibly challenging process, it can be necessary for the safety of the victim.
You don’t have to be a victim anymore. You can be a survivor.
The Types of Abuse
“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.” ―Danielle Bernock
Has someone hurt you, whether it be physically or mentally? Do you find yourself feeling unsafe or insecure? Are these feelings still affecting you today?
You are not alone. It is possible to process through those abusive experiences.
Abuse is a common cause of trauma. It occurs when a person(s) enforces control over another person(s) in a harmful way. There are many different types of abuse that can occur, and all of them are harmful and can lead to a traumatic response in the victim. Just as disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression can occur with domestic violence, they can also occur with any type of abuse.
Physical abuse is what many people think of when considering abuse. Physical abuse involves physical harm or threat of harm to another person. This can be a more obvious form of abuse, as many times it can leave behind marks or bruises. Some forms of physical abuse include:
- Throwing objects
Physical abuse can be incredibly dangerous because it can seriously harm the victim and in some cases even lead to death. Domestic violence in the form of physical abuse accounts for 15% of violent crime (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2017). Even if there are not marks or bruises, the pain of physical abuse is still present.
Emotional abuse can take many forms, and occurs mostly in the context of intimate relationships. As other forms of abuse, emotional abuse centers around the perpetrator exercising control and power over the victim. Some forms of emotional abuse include:
- Continual criticizing
- Isolating victim from family or friends
- Acting possessive
- Exercising control over what the victim does or where he/she goes
- “Gaslighting,” or causing victim to question sanity
- Threatening harm
- Blaming the victim for the abuse
- Withhold affection from victim if he/she does not comply
Emotional abuse commonly co-occurs with other types of abuse. When victims are being emotionally abused, it can be even more difficult for them to leave the relationship or situation. When emotional abuse is coming from a family member, sometimes it is not possible to leave the relationship. Emotional abuse may not leave physical marks, but it leaves immense emotional marks.
Sexual abuse can occur with or without an intimate relationship as the context. Sexual abuse also results from an individual wanting power or control over another individual. Since sexual acts are so intimate, the victim can feel violated in many ways. Some forms of sexual abuse can include:
- Forcing the victim into sexual acts
- Demanding sex when the victim is feeling unwell, or after the perpetrator has just hurt the victim
- Hurting the victim during sex
- Manipulating the victim into performing sexual acts
- Ignoring the feelings of the victim during sex
Sexual abuse happens when a sexual act between two or more people is not consensual. Consent means that all individuals involved have agreed to engage sexually at each point in the event. If an individual decides during the act that he/she would like to disengage from the event, he/she should be able to exit or transition from the event. When a sexual act begins, consent is needed throughout the experience from all individuals involved. It may feel shameful to talk about the sexual abuse because many victims believe the abuse was their fault. This may be a result of the perpetrator placing blame on the victim, or because of societal expectations.
You do not need to stay in this shame.
Treatment for Trauma & PTSD – Dr. Jaffe Can Help
Seeking therapy is the most important first step in overcoming a trauma disorder. I am confident that we can work together to overcome distress and help you live a better life.
As a therapist, I use trauma-informed care to increase feelings of safety and decrease potential triggers that may be related to the trauma. If you tend to respond severely to particular situations or stimuli, we can discuss this over the phone or email to reduce the chance of this interfering with participation in therapy.
I use a multi-method approach to treatment of trauma symptoms. I draw from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help people manage negative thoughts and feelings. CBT is one of the most effective treatments for trauma disorders (Iverson et al., 2011). I also utilize other treatment techniques, such as Gestalt, psychodynamic, and hypnosis to help you overcome your symptoms. My strength as a psychotherapist is my ability to shift to the needs of the client and bring in the most effective treatment for your issues.
Treatment for a trauma disorder begins with a thorough interview process where we identify the symptoms and any related mental health concerns. This is where we discuss your life’s story which helps me truly understand you on a deeper level. Your treatment would be informed by your goals and desires for therapy.
Therapy will help you learn how to:
- Manage negative thoughts
- Process emotions surrounding the trauma
- Regulate your mood
- Confront your distressing memories
- Improve your sleep
I believe that you have the power to make real changes to your life. Do not let your past keep you from living your life.
Schedule your first appointment today! Let me help you find happiness and change your life for the better.
Interested in Therapy Services?
If you are interested in therapy services for a trauma disorder, please contact me as soon as possible.
I would love to hear from you, and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. It is never too late to get help.
Schedule your first appointment today, and give wellness a try!
Read About Dr. Jaffe
Want to learn more about me?
Click on About Me to learn more about my credentials and specialties.
My clinic is based in Encino, California, but I also work with people from all over the area, including Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks, San Fernando, Inglewood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, and beyond!
Want to Learn More?
Interested in learning more about therapy and mental health? Check out the tabs above, or click on the links below:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Iverson, K. M., Gradus, J. L., Resick, P. A., Suvak, M. K., Smith, K. F., & Monson, C. M. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD and depression symptoms reduces risk for future inmate partner violence among interpersonal trauma survivors. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79(2), 193-202
Kugler, B. B., Phares, V., Salloum, A., & Storch, E. A. (2016). The role of anxiety sensitivity in the relationship between posttraumatic stress symptoms and negative outcomes in trauma-exposed adults . Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 29(2), 187-201.
Paige, M., DeVore, J., Chang, C. Y., & Whisenhunt, J., (2017). The trauma-competent clinician: A qualitative model of knowledge, skills, and attitudes supporting Adlerian-based trauma psychotherapy. Journal of Individual Psychology, 73(1), 8-37.
Park, C.L., Currier, J. M., Harris, I. J., & Slattery, J. M. (2017). Trauma, meaning, and spirituality: Translating research into clinical practice. American Psychological Association, 6, 55-73.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Trauma and Violence. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence