Signs of Trauma in Victims of Abuse

“Trauma survivors have symptoms instead of memories.” – Mary R. Harvey (1996). An ecological view of psychological trauma and trauma recovery. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9:1, 3-23. (Read the abstract and download the PDF.)

I think one of the greatest mistakes many victims make is denying we have a problem until it’s too late. We tend to be ignorant of what trauma looks and feels like.

I’m the first to admit that I failed myself REPEATEDLY, because I ignored the signs and thought I could fix my own issues despite repeated failures to do so.

Before I accepted I was a victim and that there was absolutely NOTHING I could do to change what happened, I could check off all 18 of the below signs. All severe and intense.

1. Depression
2. Irritability
3. Loss of interest
4. Numbing
5. Decreased concentration
6. Insomnia
7. Emotionally overwhelmed
8. Loss of the sense of the future – Hopelessness
9. Shame and worthlessness
10. Little or no memories
11. Nightmares and flashbacks
12. Hyper-vigilance and mistrust
13. Generalized anxiety – panic attacks
14. Chronic pain and headaches
15. Substance abuse and/or eating disorders
16. Feeling unreal or out of body
17. Self-destructive behavior
18. Loss of sense of “Who I am”

Today, my abuser might be walking around free to prey on his next victims, but justice has been served in my life, because none of the 18 signs listed above control or negatively affect my life anymore.

I am free for the first time in many, many years.

No more shaming and blaming yourself. No more ignoring the signs. No more hiding behind your need to be perfect. No more thinking you’ll be a burden if you reach out and ask for help.

Take the first step toward your freedom today!


abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Family, Forgiveness, Health, Lessons, Love, Mental Health, mindfulness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychopaths, PTSD, Rape, Recovery, Relationships, Science, Self Improvement, Sociopaths, Spirituality, Writing
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Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. I just found your blog, wow!! great information to be found on it. Thank you. I didn’t realize what I had until I met with a therapist a few years ago and explained this to me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but it made so much sense and it still does, I needed a reminder today.


  2. Reblogged this on tryingtoescapethedarkness and commented:
    I can tick way too many of these.


  3. I can tick way too many of these. Although I went through a different kind of trauma, the symptoms are all the same. Now that you have accepted this, have you noticed any of the symptoms ease?


    • Acceptance was the first step toward freedom. I had to do much self-reflection and spiritual work to get to a place of release (letting go) and relief. Acceptance of these systems naturally led me down a path of deep self-awareness, which led to acceptance of other bad habits and self-destructive behaviors I had previously dismissed as things about my personality I couldn’t change. But I did change many of them and continue to change others and transform. Too heal and recover takes great effort, but it’s absolutely worth it!! 🙂


  4. Another, great informative post, Paula. You have helped so many on this journey.


  5. This is amazing! Thank you for posting this. All last year, I was symptoms: 1-14 and definitely #18.


  6. I still cant quite believe that even any of these things are present in my life – but they are… some days are more difficult than others.. some more difficult than them.. especially when you realise that that old world you knew and that was not perfect by any stretch but that was at times fun and caring has gone.. largely because the vindictive aggression expressed as latent abuse by others who have no meaning in your life whatever other than to have taken large chunks of it away………

    I have a long way to go.


  7. A great post, thank you. For me, life with my abuser meant zombie-like exhaustion, an inability to imagine the future, hyper-vigilance (usually justified) and a life without joy. Having escaped this man, some of these symptoms are hard to shake off but I work on them every day. Life is already brighter!


  8. Reblogged this on Reclaiming the Sippel-Herr Family Honor and commented:
    this is excellent


  9. Reblogged this on From Torn 2 Pieces to Peace .


  10. Still battling most of the above thanks


  11. Great info, Paula. Knowledge is power. Clearly identifying reality for what it is, (trauma inflicted, not character flaws) is an important step to healing. Without getting at the root, the weeds keeping growing back.

    Liked by 1 person

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