Relational trauma refers to the emotional and psychological harm that occurs as a result of significant and often repetitive negative experiences within relationships. These experiences can include abuse, neglect, betrayal, and abandonment, and can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s ability to trust and form healthy relationships in the future.
Symptoms of relational trauma can include difficulty with attachment, difficulty with intimacy, difficulty with trust, difficulty with communication, and difficulty with emotional regulation. It is important for individuals who have experienced relational trauma to seek support from a mental health professional in order to address and heal from these experiences.
Causes Of Relational Trauma
There are many potential causes of relational trauma, including:
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse: Relationships in which one person is physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive towards the other can cause significant trauma.
- Neglect: Relationships in which one person is neglected or not given the care and attention they need can also lead to trauma.
- Betrayal: Experiencing betrayal or being let down by someone you trusted can be a traumatic experience.
- Abandonment: Being abandoned or left by someone can be a deeply traumatic experience, particularly if it occurs without warning or explanation.
- Toxic relationships: Relationships that are unhealthy or toxic can cause trauma, especially if they involve manipulation, control, or verbal or emotional abuse.
- Difficult life events: Experiencing difficult life events, such as the death of a loved one, can also lead to relational trauma.
It is important to note that everyone’s experiences and reactions to trauma are unique and can be influenced by a range of factors, including their personal history, their support system, and their coping skills.
Difference Between Relational Trauma and PTSD
Relational trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are two separate, but related concepts. Relational trauma refers to the emotional and psychological harm that occurs as a result of negative experiences within relationships, such as abuse, neglect, betrayal, and abandonment. PTSD, on the other hand, is a mental health disorder that can occur after a person experiences a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a car accident, or a violent crime.
While both relational trauma and PTSD can involve feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress, there are some key differences between the two:
- Type of event: Relational trauma is typically associated with negative experiences within relationships, while PTSD is typically associated with a specific traumatic event.
- Duration: Relational trauma can be ongoing and occur over an extended period of time, while PTSD is typically triggered by a single event.
- Symptoms: Both relational trauma and PTSD can cause a range of symptoms, including difficulty with attachment, difficulty with intimacy, difficulty with trust, difficulty with communication, and difficulty with emotional regulation. However, PTSD may also involve specific symptoms such as flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and avoidance of triggers.
It is important to note that individuals who have experienced relational trauma may also be at risk for developing PTSD, and vice versa. It is important for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of either condition to seek support from a mental health professional.
How To Find Out If You Are In A Relational Trauma? Relational Trauma Symptoms
There are a few signs that you may be experiencing relational trauma:
- Difficulty with attachment: If you struggle to form close, healthy relationships or feel disconnected from others, this may be a sign of relational trauma.
- Difficulty with intimacy: If you struggle to open up to others, have difficulty feeling close to others, or have a hard time trusting others, this may be a sign of relational trauma.
- Difficulty with trust: If you struggle to trust others or have a hard time believing that others are trustworthy, this may be a sign of relational trauma.
- Difficulty with communication: If you struggle to communicate your thoughts and feelings to others or have a hard time being open and honest with others, this may be a sign of relational trauma.
- Difficulty with emotional regulation: If you have a hard time managing your emotions or struggle with mood swings, this may be a sign of relational trauma.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek support from a mental health professional. They can help you address and heal from your past experiences and work with you to develop healthy, trusting relationships in the future.
How to Recover from Relational Trauma?
Healing or recovering from relational trauma can be a difficult and challenging process, but it is possible with the right support and resources. Here are a few steps that may be helpful in overcoming relational trauma:
- Seek support: It is important to have a supportive network of people who can provide you with emotional and psychological support as you work through your trauma. This may include friends, family, or a mental health professional.
- Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself is an important part of the healing process. Make sure to prioritize your physical and emotional well-being by getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
- Seek therapy: Working with a mental health professional can be a helpful way to process and heal from your trauma. They can help you identify and address the root causes of your trauma and provide you with coping strategies to manage your symptoms.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. Practicing mindfulness can help you stay grounded in the present and manage your emotions more effectively.
- Learn to set boundaries: Setting healthy boundaries is important in any relationship, but it is especially important for those who have experienced trauma. Learning to set boundaries can help you protect yourself and prevent further harm.
- Seek support from a trauma-informed support group: Joining a support group with others who have experienced similar trauma can be a helpful way to connect with others and share your experiences.
Complex Relational Trauma
Complex relational trauma refers to the emotional and psychological harm that occurs as a result of ongoing and repeated negative experiences within relationships over an extended period of time.
These experiences may include abuse, neglect, betrayal, and abandonment, and can have a profound impact on an individual’s ability to trust and form healthy relationships in the future. Complex relational trauma can be particularly difficult to heal from because it often involves multiple relationships and experiences, making it more challenging to identify and address the root causes of the trauma.
Symptoms of complex relational trauma can include difficulty with attachment, difficulty with intimacy, difficulty with trust, difficulty with communication, and difficulty with emotional regulation.
It is important for individuals who have experienced complex relational trauma to seek support from a mental health professional in order to address and heal from these experiences.
Here are a few inspiring quotes about overcoming relational trauma:
- “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” – Rafiki, The Lion King
- “The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” – Steve Maraboli
- “The most difficult aspect of moving on is accepting that the other person already did.” – Faraaz Kazi
- “There is no greater power in the world than the power of forgiveness.” – Bishop T.D. Jakes
- “Forgiveness is the final form of love.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
- “The only way to heal from trauma is to feel it fully.” – Unknown
- “The road to healing is often not an easy one, but it is worth it.” – Unknown
- “You are not a victim. You are a survivor. You have the strength and resilience to overcome any obstacle and heal from any wound.” – Unknown
Here are a few books that may be helpful for those who are seeking to understand and heal from relational trauma:
- “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk
- “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle
- “The Healing Power of Empathy: A Practical Guide to Being an Empath” by Karla McLaren
- “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown
- “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
- “The Emotionally Absent Mother: A Guide to Self-Healing and Getting the Love You Missed” by Jasmin Lee Cori
- “Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships” by Sue Johnson
- “The Invisible String: The Comforting Story of the Unseen Connections That Bind Us Together” by Patrice Karst
Here are a few movies that explore themes of relational trauma:
- “The Elephant Man” (1980) – Based on the true story of Joseph Merrick, a man with severe deformities who is mistreated and exploited in Victorian England.
- “The Color Purple” (1985) – Set in rural Georgia in the 1930s, this movie tells the story of a young woman named Celie who is subjected to abuse and mistreatment by those around her.
- “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) – Set in a Maine prison, this movie tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a man who is wrongfully convicted of murder and endures years of abuse and mistreatment while in prison.
- “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (2009) – This movie tells the story of Precious, a young woman living in poverty in New York City who has experienced abuse and trauma in her life.
- “The Help” (2011) – Set in Mississippi in the early 1960s, this movie tells the story of a young white woman named Skeeter who befriends two black maids who have experienced abuse and mistreatment.
- “Moonlight” (2016) – This movie follows the life of Chiron, a young man growing up in Miami who struggles with his identity and experiences abuse and trauma in his relationships.
- “The Handmaid’s Tale” (2017) – Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, this movie takes place in a dystopian society where women are treated as property and subject to abuse and mistreatment.
You May Like to Read: