Hurt people hurt people!
I feel like this is so overused and without much context! Let us discuss this, shall we? As a psychotherapist, treating people who have experienced trauma, the invisible pain is what is hard to move past. Trauma affects you emotionally and physically. The after-effects of trauma are called trauma symptoms which can be engaging in risky behaviors, having negative emotions and thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, and the list goes on. When people start therapy and are trying to work through trauma, they often are surprised to know the uneasiness in their body and emotional dysregulation is common after a traumatic event. I also want to say trauma can affect everyone differently. Trauma to one may have less of an effect on another. A traumatic event is a level above a stressor because after something traumatic the transformation that someone goes through is huge.
Let’s take a woman just out of an abusive relationship, she is scared that her abuser will continue to abuse or retaliate because she sought help. She may have a lack of trust for those around her, is tired because she’s reliving the trauma in her sleep and is not able to get work done because her thoughts ruminate on the abuse. Her quality of life is greatly affected. We may think once the traumatic event is over that all should be better, but it is not. Sometimes it is just the beginning.
Once the traumatic event has ended the victim is left to pick up the pieces with no idea how to do so. Trauma activates our central nervous system in a way that causes us to be in a state of fight-flight or freeze frequently. The person needed to be activated to survive the trauma but now that it has ended the nervous system often remains in an activated state.
Here’s where we come to trauma reactions. Trauma reactions are just reactions to how someone feels in their body and emotionally. Most times people are victimized but don’t seek help. If there isn’t any work on desensitizing the nervous system of course you will be overreactive to situations or people in your environment.
Ex. let us imagine someone who has dealt with physical and emotional abuse throughout their childhood. Their nervous system has become acclimated to possibly being in a fight response, as a protective measure. Fast forward they grow up and haven’t ever dealt with the trauma. They often snap at little things or are defensive. To them, this feels right because their nervous system is ready to fight against anything meant to hurt them. They aren’t purposefully being this way; their body is only acting according to how it feels (being triggered). A trigger can be anything and if the mind and body see something as a trigger they will automatically react.
Here we are back to the original thought that hurt people hurt people. If I have been hurt and don’t know any better, I could possibly hurt others. I am doing what feels right to me unknowingly causing harm to others.
It is so important to educate people on trauma and its effect. It can help people improve their relationships with others and improve their ability to manage their emotions.