Trauma of any kind is a complicated experience. It affects our psyche in so many ways. And when you experience trauma and cross paths with someone who hasn’t, it becomes even more complex because that outsider just doesn’t understand the full impact the trauma has had on you. Sometimes, this can lead to being retraumatized.
I know that there are so many different kinds of trauma, but for the sake of brevity, I will just discuss the trauma sustained from narcissistic and emotional abuse.
Retraumatization is simply the feeling like you’re experiencing the trauma all over again. This can happen when we hear sounds or see anything that can trigger a flashback of the abuse.
Many abuse survivors suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which I go into further in my blog post PTSD As A Result Of Narcissistic Abuse.
When retraumatizing happens
Those who have not experienced domestic abuse at all are not aware of the trauma it can cause a survivor. We are retraumatized when an outsider comes along and perhaps has heard our story and imparts their “knowledge” about it. Perhaps they say what we should have done, or what they would have done in our situation. “Oh I would have left the moment that started” or “I have a degree in psychology, so I would have known what to look out for.”
Statements like those can make us feel like we are being blamed for our situation. We are being retraumatized.
The feeling like we are being retraumatized can even come from family members who just don’t understand. Again, these people are likely not to have experienced trauma of any kind, so it would be hard for them to comprehend what we went through. I have had certain family members who were incredibly judgmental of my situation. One even told me I should have moved closer to my children, no matter the cost. What this family member didn’t understand was that my NX has a penchant for moving about once per year! I insisted to this family member that I will not go “country hopping” after my NX. Despite pouring out my feelings in the matter, this family member still didn’t get it. I have been shut out from this person’s life and I do not talk to this person at all anymore.
“Sadly, many people who tend to lack knowledge about trauma fail to recognize that anything a trauma victim comes in contact with can re-traumatize them.”
And that’s the thing with outsiders. They lack the knowledge about trauma. The old adage is true that “you will never understand until it happens to you.” And when they lack the knowledge about trauma, the “advice” they feel they are entitled to impart to you will no doubt cause you to feel defensive, shame, guilt and a host of other things.
Being treated this way by my own family member made me feel like I was experiencing the trauma all over again. This person made me feel shame for not living near my children. And even for moving to a new state and eventually getting remarried. This person did not understand the trauma that I endured and that I would not, under any circumstance, put myself in a situation ever again where I lived near my NX.
It is sad, indeed, when those who are supposed to be closest to you do not understand the depths of what you endured. Being blamed for the abuse makes survivors feel like they are being retraumatized. The feelings of shame, guilt and humiliation of what we endured will essentially come rushing back and threaten to swallow us whole. It feels like we’re being violated and abused all over again.
Putting a stop to the feeling like you’re being retraumatized can feel like a monumental task. Remove any trigger that surrounds you. Gently remind people not to bring up certain things around you, at least until you get a handle on your healing and recovery process. And for those who insist on making you feel bad about what you endured (like my family member), remove them from your life (even if it’s only temporary). You do not need that kind of negativity when you are on your healing journey.
Have you dealt with feelings of being retraumatized? How did you cope? Comment below. And as always, I appreciate you for sharing your stories with me.
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Greetings, my warrior survivor friends! Welcome to my blog. I'm Julianna, the owner and creator of this site. Check out the My Story section to read about why I started this blog. Thanks for stopping in. And feel free to comment on any post, share your own thoughts and stories. I would love to hear from you!
The Top 10
Here you will find my most popular posts for easier discovery.
How Narcissists Make Sure You Never Solve Problems In A Relationship
The Fake Apology
How I Lost My Identity
Effects of Emotional Abuse
Emotionally Abusive Behaviors
Tightening Your Facebook Privacy Settings
Why You Should Never Defend Yourself Against The Narcissist's Smear Campaign
Going No Contact: A List Of What To Do And What Not To Do
An Open Letter To All Survivors Who Just Got Out Of An Abusive Situation
The Great Manipulator
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The content of this site is told from the blog author/owner's personal experience of dealing with a male Narcissist. Narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths are both male and female, and come from all walks of life. Furthermore, the content contained herein is not intended to be a replacement for medical or legal counsel. This blog's sole purpose is to provide support to those who have endured Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse.