The Mental in Me…

The mental in me before you were unrecognizable. It was there but it was peaceful. The mental before you amassed yet to be challenged by such life changes of emotions and bodily damage.

The mental in me before you were humble and filled with life.

The mental in me when I met you believed these new feelings were real. The mental in me with you made me feel loved with the false presentation of what love really is. The mental in me during you showed me your true disposition and intentions. The mental in me prevailed disturbed by your behavior of the abuse in which you demonstrated what your love is.

The mental in me was enticed by long nights, tears of confusion, and overthinking as if I was the problem.

Thank you for showing me what love is not. Thank you for the level of thinking I have now to process how I choose people to be in my life. Now I know that not everyone is good for my mental. Now I know that everything someone presents to me is my choice to accept it or let them be. My mental is protected by a higher level of self-awareness.

My mental mattered in times you or anyone else tried to neglect me. My mental health was my biggest key to surviving people like you as I discovered how to heal myself.

My mental today is my biggest flex that I cherish. No matter what happened to me, I mentally and physically strengthened the new healed me. I didn’t break. I didn’t fold. Instead, I grew. I bent, and now my mind is healthier and more flexible because I chose myself when I broke my silence!

Has being a survivor of a detrimental time in your life made you realize how important your state of mind was in your darkest moments?

If so please share with us in the comments below. We would love to hear how you mentally healed from the abusive characteristics that were meant to destroy you.


RESOURCE: *** From the heart of a survivor, that did not know the importance of her state of mind, UNTIL she broke her silence. ***

Ways Trauma Affects Mental Health

trauma, mental health, anxiety, depression, PTSD
abuse, trauma, domestic violence, anxiety, PTSD

What is Trauma and where does it come from?

Trauma can come in many different forms. More often than not, it comes from abuse, but abuse can also come in various forms. For instance, trauma can be caused by physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. It can affect how you feel and react to certain scenarios. Trauma changes how you feel about yourself and how you relate to others. Women who have gone through various forms of abuse or other traumas have a higher risk of developing a mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It’s always important to remember that the trauma and abuse you may have experienced is never your fault.

How Does Trauma Relate to Mental Health?

Trauma can happen after abusive scenarios happen. It can be an event in which you experienced or witnessed physical or emotional pain. These events can have long-lasting effects on your overall well-being, including your physical, emotional, and mental health.

Some of the mental illnesses or health conditions someone may experience after trauma are as follows:

Anxiety disorders

Depression

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Misusing alcohol or drugs

Borderline personality disorder

The long-lasting effects of trauma can be as follows:

Severe anxiety, stress, or fear

Abuse of alcohol or drugs

Depression

Eating disorders

Self-injury

Suicide

How Do I Know If My Mental Health Is Affected By Past Abuse or Trauma?

It can be difficult to understand or acknowledge where your abuse and trauma can affect you. However, some of the common signs of your mental health being affected by past abuse or trauma could be increased anxiety, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. , quick changes in mood including anger, irritability, and depression. Past trauma can also cause changes in appetite, and sometimes abusing drugs or alcohol. It’s also always important to consult your doctor if you feel like these changes are affecting your daily life.

References:

Abuse, trauma, and mental health | Office on Women’s Health. (n.d.). Women’s Health. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/abuse-trauma-and-mental-health#:%7E:text=Trauma%20can%20affect%20how%20you,abuse%20are%20never%20your%20fault.

The Differences Between Anxiety, PTSD, and Depression

We’ve all heard about abuse triggering or causing anxiety, PTSD, and/or depression. However, do we know what any of those terms mean? What exactly does one go through when they’re experiencing these types of mental illnesses or triggers? 

Anxiety

Let us start by asking ourselves to define anxiety. What is it? Where does it come from? Anxiety is usually a feeling of fear, dread, uneasiness, or restlessness. It might cause someone to sweat, feel restless and tense, and even have a rapid heartbeat. Anxiety can also be a normal reaction to stress.

For example, one might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Not all anxiety is bad, as it can sometimes help you cope. Sometimes anxiety can give a bit of a boost and get someone motivated to keep going.

However, for some, there are no positive effects because some people have anxiety disorders, and this disorder can be overwhelming.

What causes anxiety disorders? Well, that is not exactly known. It can come from a variety of things such as genetics, brain chemistry, or even brain biology, and sometimes even just general stress, or your environment can play different roles. 

PTSD

Next, what exactly is PTSD? PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a mental health condition triggered or caused by a traumatic event. You could experience the event or witness it for this condition to appear.

Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, and even severe anxiety. Many people who go through a traumatic event have a difficult time adjusting or coping with what they experienced. With time and care, symptoms usually improve, however, if they get ignored they can interfere with daily activities and can last anywhere from days to years. 

Depression

Furthermore, let’s discuss depression. A common enemy with survivors of domestic abuse. Depression is usually a deep feeling of being sad along with a few other common occurrences. Such as lack of motivation, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, and big changes in appetite whether it’s a little appetite or a big appetite, sleeping changes, a person struggling with depression could sleep very little or a lot.

A person struggling with depression may feel as if they are worthless or guilty. They may even have difficulty concentrating, or making decisions, oftentimes thoughts of death and suicide can come up. 

It’s important to talk about these issues because they can all be factors in someone trying to survive, and even after surviving domestic violence, there are all these possible outcomes that one would have to acknowledge.

With the right resources, treatment, and a great support system, these circumstances and events could lessen.

Some of the types of referrals we offer:

You are always welcome to contact our Support Line at 855-BTS-1777, where one of our advocates can match your needs with available resources from private to public health and human agencies. Sometimes we can even link you or point you in the right direction for help. 

  • Basic Human Needs Resources – including food and clothing banks, shelters, rent assistance, and utility assistance.
  • Physical and Mental Health Resources – including health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health resources, health insurance programs for children, medical information lines, crisis intervention services, support groups, counseling, and drug and alcohol intervention and rehabilitation.
  • Work Support – including financial assistance, job training, transportation assistance, and education programs.
  • Access to Services in Non-English Languages – including language translation and interpretation services to help non-English-speaking people find public resources 
  • Children, Youth, and Family Support – including child care, after-school programs, educational programs for low-income families, family resource centers, summer camps, and recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring, and protective services.
  • Suicide Prevention – referral to suicide prevention help organizations. 

Help is available.

Healing is possible.

Make the call. Now is the time to start healing.

References:

Anxiety. (n.d.). Medline Plus. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html#:%7E:text=Anxiety%20is%20a%20feeling%20of,before%20making%20an%20important%20decision.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Symptoms and causes. (2018, July 6). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967#:%7E:text=Post%2Dtraumatic%20stress%20disorder%20(PTSD)%20is%20a%20mental%20health,uncontrollable%20thoughts%20about%20the%20event.

Psychiatry.org – What Is Depression? (n.d.). Psychiatry.Org. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression

Surviving Abuse Without My Mother

Dana Rutherford (BTSADV’s Volunteers Director) and her mother, Pam, in 2002

There is nothing quite like a mother’s love.

It’s comforting and nurturing. A simple embrace can make all the cares of the world disappear even for just a moment. It’s the very heartbeat that we hear before we ever enter this life, and it’s the first form of love that we feel from another human being.

What happens, however, when that love is ripped from us too soon? Many of us are left to deal with the broken pieces that the absence of a mother leaves in our hearts. We long for that nurturing, comfort, and embrace, but it is not there, whether by death or choice.

I was 18 years old when my mother passed away. I was just entering adulthood, and I truly needed her more than ever. She had unfortunately become addicted to prescription drugs in a day and age where they were handed out with little said about their habit-forming properties. My childhood was very unstable because of it. My father was also addicted, so it led to a very unhealthy situation. My mother went to the hospital one day with Tylenol poisoning and died 6 days later at 44 years old. My father would pass away as well just 3 weeks after her at 53 years old.

Right before they passed away, I married a boy I met at church youth camp. We were both young, 18 and 19 years old, and we both came from toxic homes. I wanted someone to love me, and he was eager to fill that role. I now can see where it was a perfect storm that would lead to almost 15 years of marriage, 3 children, and abuse in every way.

Not having a mother (or father) while enduring abuse was devastating. I often wonder if she would have been the first phone call on those days that I needed encouragement. Would I have hidden it from her out of shame, or would I have looked to her for wisdom and guidance? Would I have gotten out sooner if she was there to help pick up the pieces, or would it have broken my heart to utter the words that a man was hurting her little girl? No matter how the events would have occurred, ultimately, I wish that she was here through it all because her absence was crushing.

Leaving the abuse without her support proved to be even more difficult. Logistically, I had nowhere to go, but emotionally, I needed her more than ever. Statistically, the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is right after they escape, and I was terrified. I had to file divorce papers and a restraining order all by myself. The shelters were full, so my 3 children and I bounced around homeless for almost 4 months. I felt like I was drowning, and I worried that my children were going to feel the effects of this. Not only did I not have my mom, but I felt like I was failing at being a mother myself.

Survivors of domestic violence struggle with multiple issues including post-traumatic stress, insecurity, hypervigilance, a lack of resources, etc. You throw that in with grieving, and it can be very triggering especially around holidays such as Mother’s Day. Whether it’s the one who lost their mother, the one who has no relationship with their mother, the single mom, the one whose mother is the abuser, the one who longs to be a mother but isn’t, the mother who lost their child, etc., this event can be painful with constant reminders of it through advertisements, greeting cards, and social media posts. Even though I am happy for them, it can sting to watch my friends shower their moms with love on that day. I am blessed to be a mother, so I can say that my children make me feel very special on Mother’s Day, but there are many years that it has been a hard day for me, and that is okay to admit.

If you struggle on Mother’s Day, or any day of the year because of grief, know that it’s normal, and you are not alone. If you are walking through healing from abuse or any kind of trauma without your mother’s support, it will not be easy, but you can honor your mother in the best way possible by loving and caring for yourself. I know for a fact that my mom would be so proud of me for leaving abuse, getting on my feet, and helping other survivors do the same. I know that she would be my biggest cheerleader every step of the way, and I carry her spirit with me in my heart. She loved me dearly, and I know she would never want me to live a life full of abuse.

Mom, I miss you. I wish that I could tell you how much you mean to me, but for now, I will live a life that makes you proud. Happy Mother’s Day, not just to you, but to all those who may be grieving on this day.

The History of Child Abuse Prevention and How to Recognize the Signs

It’s been 39 years since President Ronald Reagan formally established April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. This is a time where it is absolutely essential to understand and recognize what not only constitutes as child abuse but precisely how to respond to the signs. In working to both raise awareness and eradicate any and all stigmas, perhaps there will exist a day where all children have accessibility to a safe and healthy adolescence.

History of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

Enacted on January 31, 1974 by then-President Nixon, CAPTA was a direct legislative

Enacted on January 31, 1974, by then-President Nixon, CAPTA was a direct legislative address of child abuse and neglect within the United States. This acted as a federal attempt to provide victim care, child services and formulate organizations for those who are survivors. The Act defines child abuse and neglect, per the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm[1].” Alongside the reauthorization of the act by President Barack Obama, as is pictured below, there additionally included the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).

 

  “President Barack Obama signs S. 3817, the “CAPTA Reauthorization Act of  2010,” in the Oval Office” [2]

Four Major Types of Child Abuse

Though child abuse is certainly an opened-ended and layered topic, it is often differentiated into four major categories, those being neglect, physical, sexual, and emotional/psychological abuse. Statistics show that approximately one in four children experience abuse or neglect within their youth, of these cases, 18% are abused physically, 78% are neglected and 9% are abused sexually[3]. Any injury that stems from physical aggression constitutes physical abuse, such as beating, slapping, pushing, or burning. It is also important to note that harsh physical punishment can very easily be considered abuse. Sexual abuse is definitively any and all sexual acts enacted by an adult onto a child, including but not restricted to fondling, commercial exploitation, and violations of bodily privacy. Emotional child abuse, also knowns as verbal, mental or psychological abuse is any non-physical mistreatment that could potentially have a negative mental impact on a child. This can come from parents, caregivers, siblings, or even bullying peers. Neglect is the most common form of child abuse[4], and can include a failure to provide appropriate physical care, educational care, and emotional support. 

Recognizing the Signs

One of the essential ways by which children can be spared of abuse and neglect is through recognizing the signs and symptoms. It is imperative that both individuals who work in childcare and those who do not are educated on how to pay direct attention to vulnerable adolescents.

[5]

Some of the most common signs of neglect may not always be a physical bruise or inexplicable injury, though those are certainly symptoms that are important to look out for. Nevertheless, a child who is being abused may begin to withdraw from friends, their studies, and their usual activities. They may become angry, anxious, depressed, or present rebellious behaviors that are otherwise out of character for them. 

In fact, according to ChildSafe, a Texas based non-profit organization dedicated to abused and neglected children, there are “10 Signs of Child Abuse.” The signs are as follows: changes in behavior, physical or emotional acts of regression, a fear of going home, a change in eating habits, changes in sleeping, changes in school performance and attendance, lack of personal care, risk-taking behaviors, and inappropriate sexual behaviors[6].

Statistics

One of the most beneficial ways to raise awareness surrounding child abuse is through proper education and exposure to the dark realities that some children experience. By keeping society privy to the real cases, the irrefutable statistics, we can better aid those who have faced such inexplicable horrors. Some of the most disheartening studies show that a child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds in the US and more than 3 million adolescents experience at least one situation of abuse annually[7].

[8]

                    

Where to go Next?

Moving forward, it is imperative that society collectively work toward eradicating situations of abuse and neglect. Additionally, discourse surrounding the long-term effects of abuse must, too, be taken very seriously. Studies show that survivors of abuse can experience lifelong consequences, and not just physically. By the time some reach adulthood, some may experience cognitive delays, speech and language problems, depressions and anxieties, and extreme difficulties within relationships. Plus, there is an irrefutable and strong link between trauma and substance abuse, an entirely different societal battle. Overall, though there is certainly no erasing the pain and abuse people experience in their youth, society, at the very least, can work to prevent future trauma and provide adequate resources.


[1] https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/whatiscan.pdf

[2]https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2010/12/20/president-obama-signs-critical-legislation-prevent-child-abuse-and-domestic-violence

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470337/

[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459146/#:~:text=Neglect%20is%20the%20most%20common,shaking%2C%20burning%2C%20and%20biting.

[5] https://news.sky.com/story/staggering-rise-in-child-abuse-images-detected-10252012

[6] https://www.lifestoriesweld.org/10-signs-of-child-abuse/

[7] http://www.cactn.org/child-abuse-information/statistics#:~:text=A%20child%20is%20abused%20or,abused%20before%20their%2018th%20birthday.

[8] https://www.alaskachildrenstrust.org/issue