Healing The Wounds of Emotional Abuse

By Sarah Carter, LCSW

Over the years, I have listened to hundreds of women share their stories of surviving a
relationship that depleted their heart, mind, and soul. Some of the questions have been: What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t my partner love me? Why can’t I make him happy. Without sensitivity and understanding someone might say: That’s crazy, “there isn’t anything wrong with you”. Although, if we seek to understand the stories of survivors of emotional trauma and those surviving a relationship with an emotionally abusive partner. It becomes clear that a lack of self-trust, disconnection to self, and negative self-talk developed as an adaptation in the relationship. When I refer to “adaptations” I am referring to the behaviors that become adaptive to survive trauma.

We hear countless stories about how individuals survived physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual trauma. Survival is how we managed to get through an abnormally painful experience. After the effects of the trauma begin to diminish, we are no longer in a daily state of threat, yet we are living with our adaptations that were part of our experience. The part we get stuck in is healing from the adaptations that helped us to survive and are currently inhibiting our progress.

The real work begins once we become aware of how impacted we were by the abuse and then start our journey to heal and thrive. If there was an antidote to wounds of emotional trauma, I would say it a heaping scoop of self-compassion. If you consider the impact the trauma had on your mind, body. and spirit in addition to possible disconnection with yourself, diminished self-trust and confidence, it becomes vividly clear why compassion is essential to healing. Your experiences impacted your self-talk, your perception of yourself and the way you view yourself in the world. The most important step you can take in healing is learning the gift of being kind to yourself. Create a different narrative, one that doesn’t include beating yourself up. Allow it to include a story about your healing and how you didn’t just survive but thrived! Our
brains are powerful, as soon as we start a new pattern, and our brain can learn it change is inevitable.

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