As some may have read in previous blogs, I am currently pregnant with my second child with a new partner. This time around is of course vastly different. I have had the opportunity to go shopping for all the things you need or want for our much-awaited baby. My daughter is so happy and excited to become a big sister and our life at home is peaceful and full of baby grows and blankets.
I knew this time round would be different and a much happier fairer parenting process with a person who is not an abusive one. What I didn’t expect was some of the unforeseen triggers that came with it. The main trigger was pram shopping. It never occurred to me not once that it would bring up unwanted memories from when I lived with my ex. As soon as I saw that black sliver cross pram in the department store it sent a feeling of unease over me and I couldn’t bear to even look at it. Flashbacks of that same pram years ago sitting in the corridor of the house I lived in with my ex, while screaming and shouting would be going on around it. The night it was surrounded in glass after a glass panel in a door was smashed by him in a rage instead of me being punched. Envisioning the days, I would put my daughter in it to go walking into our local high street just to get away from him for a short time. That black pram became a symbol of our imprisonment and a figure that was constantly there during a dark and unforgettable time.
So, no black pram was purchased I have opted for something completely different of course.
For those who escape domestic abuse triggers, or a trauma trigger will most likely happen due to PTSD. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship this is a common after effect, certain objects, smells, word or even things we may watch on tv etc can induce a reaction. You’ve been in survival mode and been subjected to extreme stress. In some studies, domestic abuse strategies have been compared to the strategies used on prisoners of war. So, it is no wonder why you can be left with such similar symptoms.
Symptoms of experiencing a trauma trigger:
*Nausea or fatigue
Although everyone’s triggers and the way react to them can vary, they can be manged and treated. Learning to focus is important to this. CBT therapy is also recommended by many. A support worker showed me the five senses breathing technique which has been the most helpful way to ground me in a triggering situation and can be done pretty much anywhere or anytime.
5- Acknowledge five things you see around you
4- Acknowledge four things you can touch around you
3- Acknowledge three things hear around you
2- Acknowledge 2 things you can smell around you
1-Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste
Recognising why and what those triggers are is helpful and discussing with those around you and that are close to you. The last thing you need is to have those you are closest to you causing triggers in their behaviours or things they may say unknowingly.
I think its important to recognise that these feelings are normal and ok to feel. No one can be expected to just get over such a horrifying experience where a person has chosen to be abusive to towards you. It’s necessary for those around us to not impact on this and as a society recognise that domestic abuse has long term effects. We would not expect a soldier to come back from war and just simply be ok. The effects on the brain to living under any type of terrorism can be extreme and needs tolerance and help with out shame or pathologizing the person.
How to help someone with PTSD
*Educate yourself on trauma/PTSD
*Listen and be patient
*Learn about their triggers
*Encourage talking about it