Having been abused, neglected or exploited, or experiencing repeated violence can leave you struggling to just feel okay. Some people with complex trauma experiences have never felt okay. Others have never felt safe, emotionally or physically. Many survivors feel bad and ashamed or blame themselves. Many others often feel angry or distressed and can feel agitated and jumpy or shut down at different times.
If you’ve had some of these experiences you may find it hard to seek help, or to feel safe or trust enough. You may find that the way you’re feeling and your thoughts don’t match up e.g. ‘I know it wasn’t my fault but I feel that it was’. You may have split loyalties such as positive and negative feelings towards your perpetrator/s and/or family members. You may despair at times of ever getting beyond `the tangled knot of complex trauma’.
Many survivors have shown enormous strength, courage and resilience to have survived. If you were abused or violated, what happened to you was wrong. You coped as best you could and the ways in which you coped need to be acknowledged in the context of your experiences.
Coping strategies to deal with overwhelming stress are attempts to manage painful internal experience. It is normal to want to feel better. However coping mechanisms which seem to offer immediate relief can also be risky. Recognising the purpose of coping strategies as attempts to `tolerate the intolerable’ can be an important step towards finding other ways to cope.. It is important to nurture yourself as best you can during this process.