Childhood Domestic Violence & Tips for healing? (possible trigger)

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C.

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About three weeks ago I realized that my entire childhood/family of origin experience included domestic violence.   And that a child witnessing domestic violence experiencing nearly the same psychological/physical response as if the violence were happening to the child.  And the domestic violence still happening for my mother, many many years...  Itís mostly emotional and verbal, but my father will grab at hands, slap, throw stuff.  Itís not the traditional media portrayal with choking or punching.   It's the classic pattern with periods of "calm" and "love" and "kindness."  And I was recently made aware of bizarre physical abuse by my father towards me, like pouring dinner on my head when he was angry.  I had honestly blocked that one out.  I am coming to terms w/the fact that I had denied and repressed this reality.  At first as a child to stay safe, and then simply continued the denial on into adulthood like many trauma survivors.

Iíve contacted dv hotline, worked through emotional/verbal abuse and neglect both by my parents and my first husband.  But this feels new.  Different.

Thankfully I have better support now: therapy, insurance, secure work, my brother, my husband and a few friends in real life.

I would appreciate any validation, empathy, similar experiences, ideas or other input from this group.

Thank you,

C.

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Whobuddy

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Re: Childhood Domestic Violence & Tips for healing? (possible trigger)
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2020, 02:47:36 PM »
I remember you. Many have come and gone from OOTS. Welcome back. I often lurk but seldom write. I feel out of place here even though it is kind of my place to be. I come here when I feel alone knowing there is this community of people who truly 'get it.'

I wanted to send you validation and support.  :)

One reason I seldom post here is that I am not very good at it and usually just go off writing about my own troubles instead of lending support. But for what it's worth I am writing this.

You asked for similar experiences - mine are similar in that most was emotional and verbal. It is rather hidden in that I am still uncovering stuff that happened and how bad it really was because like you say, it was not the traditional media portrayal. But it is just as damaging and just as difficult to recover from.  In my situation there was not much in the way of calm, love, and kindness except for fake shows of such in public.

It is good that you have support now. I do too. I have all you listed except I don't have a brother. I hope to hear more from you on this recovery journey that we share.

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C.

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Re: Childhood Domestic Violence & Tips for healing? (possible trigger)
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2020, 07:45:34 PM »
Thank you very much for reaching out Whobuddy.  I am happy to hear you remember me.  I remember you too.  I had wanted to become more active a while back, but had password issues and it didn't seem so urgent...now it is, although this time around does seem smoother.  Like I know what to expect and steps to take.  I hear you about the emotional neglect and abuse.  And like you said there is something to be said for simply knowing there is a community out there who "gets it"...what we've experienced.  As I retrieve memories on this I am finding that I actually did experience some physical violence, witness it, along w/the threat of it...but bizarre stuff like throwing food or breaking a household item...
And for the record you are good at validation and support :)  Just hearing that helped me.
So did you witness a lot of domestic violence?  I suspect it was nearly daily for me, or at least a few times a week.  My whole childhood and adolescence...i think i just didn't realize the gravity of how that impacted me in my current reality...and now that i do i have mixed feelings of relief at getting to the deeper issue to finally heal on a deeper level, as well as frustration that i am experiencing cptsd symptoms again...the freezing, the anger, the heart racing and hands trembling...but i am so much more in control of my healing now.  i think i figured out how to avoid it hurting either my healthy relationships or my job.  Again, thank you for responding and i appreciate continuing this conversation.

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Whobuddy

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Re: Childhood Domestic Violence & Tips for healing? (possible trigger)
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2020, 09:39:34 PM »
No, there wasn't a lot of physical violence in my childhood. But what there was, was mostly directed at me. I learned to hide, to please, and to pretend like it never happened. It is so hard to put into words what I experienced. Nothing I have read in books describes it. Or it only describes a part of it.

There was a large degree of emotional abuse but that was mixed with physical abuse and threats of abuse. There was physical and emotional neglect. What it really amounted to was a house where everyone avoided each other most of the time. So I had to figure out how to survive the attacks and how to raise myself amidst threats to 'send me away' or 'get rid of me.' I grew up thinking I shouldn't be alive.

My biggest issue in recovery is learning how to stop acting the way I think others want me to. I want to become authentic. And I look at my life as it is now and see that nothing I have done was out of knowing or trusting myself. I am beginning to feel my feelings, find my voice, and make choices that honor myself. It has been a long road to get this far.

Sometimes I think of the process as trying to become real or authentic and sometimes like I am trying to finding my soul. In doing so, like you, the gravity of the experiences sinks in. As I remember things that I have thought about so many times before, it is as if I finally am grasping that they happened to Me, the Me that is here now and not just a child that exists in my mind.

I think when we witness violence like you did, it's like it is actually happening to us. It is like we don't have the proper boundaries between what we saw and what happened to us. It was all happening to us. Because we were not Safe.

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C.

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Re: Childhood Domestic Violence & Tips for healing? (possible trigger)
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2020, 01:33:42 AM »
Whobuddy thank you for finding the words to summarize a big part of my struggle "it is as if I finally am grasping that they happened to Me, the Me that is here now and not just a child that exists in my mind."  That's what hit me these past two months.  And as painful as is the reality, the truth of my experience is at the same time healing.  It's like I'm finally able to see, and then let go...

And I think I hear you about finding your authentic self.  I am often hit at the same time by gratitude that this struggle allows us such great empathy and value in finding our voice, our voice and valuing that others may do the same.  I look forward to you finding that for you as I do for me.  There've been times when i struggle so much to allow that authentic self to come out in my relationships, but when I do and I am valued, then I feel so wonderful, so empowered.  Both at work and with my husband and with my adult kids and my brother.  And when someone doesn't react appropriately to my authentic self, well I know it's them, not me.

Thank you.


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rainydiary

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Re: Childhood Domestic Violence & Tips for healing? (possible trigger)
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2020, 12:12:52 PM »
C - I appreciate you starting this thread as I recall the moments where I realized my childhood was abusive and it was jarring.  A big struggle for me has been why I didnít recognize it sooner.  It explained so much about me and why I have had some of the struggles Iíve had. 

Iíve spent a lot of time working this year on feeling safe and being my authentic self.  I am noticing a similar experience as you shared - when someone doesnít react to the authentic me as I would hope it is them.  For me it does somewhat start to trigger feelings of lack of safety but I am trying to work through that because I am glad to finally be me and not some weird version of me that is always trying to guess what others want.

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Persistant

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Re: Childhood Domestic Violence & Tips for healing? (possible trigger)
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2020, 04:13:01 PM »
Hi C.

Sorry to hear of the abuse you sufferred, I totally understand where you're coming from. Coming to terms with denial was also a phase that I have been through, many times I ask why I did that but I have come to understand that it was self defence. I was protecting my inner child, acknowledging him and loving him has been very soothing. And I really get the nature of the gaslighting via emotional/verbal/weird behaviour, this is truly insidious. Good on you for reaching out to DV hotline, get help from wherever you can. Great to hear also that you have created a support network for yourself, i'm going thru a very similar process with mixed results, I hope I get settled in this respect.

Keep going C., you're doing great. Let us know how it goes.

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C.

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Re: Childhood Domestic Violence & Tips for healing? (possible trigger)
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2020, 07:58:45 PM »
Hello everyone,

Again thank you for your responses.  Yes, learning to be authentically me and also those individuals who will be less supportive, but ultimately no one has the level of power that happened for me as a child.  So I am learning to understand that is the case and respond in kind.  Not underreact (placating everyone) or overreact (can be too harsh).

Honestly everyone's response here has really helped.  Knowing others struggle with finding the right balance after trauma.

In my case I spent about 5 years very focused on my healing again, and basically free of any EF for maybe 7 years?  So I felt so afraid when new information tipped me into that reality again a couple of months ago.

I am happy to say that since that time it's not happened again (an EF) and I've learned to sit with this new reality, gradually think about it, and accept it in a way that feels so much better than the first time around when I had to do all this work...the writing, the thinking, the praying, meditating, therapy, analyzing every relationship in my life...

Now I journal periodically, analyze my triggers better, and get on with my day...it's hard to describe.

And I know that this group helps greatly with that process.