Identifying Signs of Trauma in Yourself In Order to Heal, Recover and Transform

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!


The Role of Your Conscience when Dealing with the Aftermath of a Sociopath


When trying to understand a sociopath and how a sociopath will react to you and any attempts you make to seek justice or revenge, you MUST remember two very important facts:

1. Sociopaths are not connected intimately to a spiritual core.

2. Sociopath’s are unable to empathize or be guided by a conscience.

Why are these facts important to remember?

As empathic and spiritual people, we react to life and loss with feelings and deep emotions:

>> We wonder how what we did today will affect us negatively or positively in the future.

>> We consider how our choices will impact others in negative or positive ways.

>> We worry about the possibility of making the wrong choices in life that could potentially cause harm to ourselves and others.

>> More importantly, our conscience reminds us that our existence, choices and actions affect others and that we must be careful and thoughtful in our decision-making processes or else hurt another unintentionally.

The last thing we ever want to be accused of is hurting another person, right? It stings deep through to our core when we discover we’ve been careless with another’s heart and trust.

A Sociopath doesn’t have that conscience, that little voice warning him/her that what s/he is about to do could hurt someone. And the sociopath certainly doesn’t have that little voice that makes him/her feel guilty for hurting you once you express to him/her that s/he hurt you!

So a conscience doesn’t just work in one direction. It’s cyclical and holistic and surrounds our core. It protects us and others from potential harm, because it keeps us ever-mindful of the importance of using care in making decisions involving ourselves and other living creatures.

But sometimes we ignore our conscience. Sometimes, in the case of being spiritually, physically and emotionally abused by another, our conscience malfunctions and we are instead guided by our anger and deep need to seek revenge and justice.

Is it the trauma effects that take over, clouding our judgement, our conscience and our ability to rationalize? More than likely, yes.

So the moment you feel the need to see the sociopath suffer in ways you have never wished another to suffer, that is your cue that you’ve been victimized/traumatized and you need the help of a licensed professional to guide you back to your conscience.

You cannot and should not act without your conscience being fully active, responsive and healthy.

Otherwise, you react in revenge mode, and you do not want to seek revenge on the sociopath; it will back fire.

The sociopath isn’t afraid of you and your emotions, because the sociopath has no emotional fears or connections, remember? A conscience provides us with those fears, and sociopaths do not have a conscience!

Without a conscience, the sociopath uses your emotions to control you further. (People with a healthy and active conscience just wouldn’t think to do such a thing. Instead, we’d recognize that person’s pain and seek to understand it and help relieve it, not exacerbate it!)

If you start throwing hateful accusations and names at the sociopath (like calling him a “sociopath”), the sociopath recognizes that your conscience is out to lunch, rendering you weak.

When your conscience is out to lunch, you open the door to the sociopath who will effortlessly turn your efforts to destroy him emotionally right back at you!

You bypassed your conscience. When you bypass your conscience, you are an easy target, and you will suffer every single time.

And the sociopath certainly isn’t afraid to hurt you. The sociopath will find joy in watching you collapse. The sociopath feeds off of your emotional weakness.

Therefore, we only end up hurting ourselves when we seek to hurt the sociopath, because the sociopath is spiritually empty. Nothing at the spiritual or emotional level affects or harms the sociopath.

So what should you do? How do you deal with never getting justice for all of the injustices inflicted upon you by the sociopath?

I believe you should always be true to your conscience. Always seek the path of least resistance when dealing with a sociopath in family and divorce court. Always approach negotiations in a reasonable, thoughtful and caring way.

Act as your conscience dictates, not in absence of your conscience.

Otherwise, no judge or mediator will understand or even care about your emotional claims of abuse and turmoil.

Once you enter a court of law, everything becomes black and white. How do you begin to explain the varying shades of abusers you experienced when you can’t measure or prove the abuse took place?

And don’t expect the courts to take you on your word when you make claims of being abused by the sociopath. The courts can only go on what they see and hear before them.

If you’re in the courtroom resisting and crying and spewing hate in the direction of the sociopath while the sociopath just stands there without reacting to you emotionally, that’s what the court will see.

And what is it that the court sees? How does the court interpret this behavior?

The court sees a hateful and verbally abusive person (YOU) who isn’t using care to express his/herself. The court sees a person acting without a conscience and without remorse for the consequences of his/her accusations. In stark contrast, the court see the emotionally empty sociopath as a controlled and reasonable person.

Who do you suspect the court will rule in favor of?

I realize this doesn’t seem fair, and it isn’t fair. Your life was ambushed by a conscienceless piece of trash who tried to strip you of your conscience.

And the sociopath nearly succeeded.

But instead of abandoning your conscience and getting angrier and angrier at the sociopath’s lack of a conscience and an ability to be a decent human being, imagine how unfair it would be not to have the gift of empathy and a conscience.

>> Imagine not caring if you harmed yourself or others.

>> Imagine how empty you would feel if your mind was only capable of understanding the material world before you.

>> Imagine being absolutely unable to see into your soul and into the infinite possibilities of a spiritual life filled with love, peace and joy?

That’s not living. If I recall correctly from my time in hell with the sociopath, that was dying.

(And Sociopaths don’t even know they’re dead. We should keep that our secret, huh?)

Never abandon your conscience and never seek revenge or wish harm to befall the sociopath. (After all, zombies and dead stuff cant feel pain, so why bother.)

Instead, focus on rebuilding your conscience and employing it to find peace and grow love as it was intended.


© 2013 Paula Carrasquillo and Paula’s Pontifications

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The End of the Relationship with a Sociopath: Where is the Sense in It?


From the beginning, a relationship with a sociopath make no sense and is unlike any relationship we have ever encountered. And then the end comes, and we’re blown away by how it plays out.

When normal, healthy relationships end, we naturally grieve. We say goodbye to someone with whom we shared ourselves and whom shared themselves with us. It’s sad. It’s painful. But it’s life. People come and go. And just because the person we are saying good-bye to will no longer be a part of our everyday life, we have the beautiful memories of that person and all of the adventures and growth we experienced.

But when a relationship with a sociopath ends, it’s on par with losing someone through death. Why is the grief so intense? Probably because there was never a normal closure when a so-called relationship with a sociopath ends.

When we end romantic relationships with healthy partners, there is usually the final, mutual conversation where one side says, “I love you but it’s just not working” and the other side says “I love you, too, and I agree it’s not working.” You go your separate ways; there is no drama; there is no second-guessing. You move forward and deal every day with the gradual subsiding of the pain and grief of losing a person you once shared a life. And you always remember that person and how he/she shaped you and helped prepare you for the next relationship.

When the toxic relationship with a sociopath ends, we never experience the mutual conversation or the drama-free exit and separation. Instead, what we get from a sociopath is emptiness and lies. If you leave the sociopath, he’ll say, “Thank God I don’t have to endure you any more. I should have realized long ago that I was wasting my energy on you.” If he is the one to leave, he’ll say, “It’s just not working out. I don’t love you and never really loved you the way you wanted me to love you. We would have made each other miserable. Have a great life.”

Both reactions are shocking to a normal, health non-pathological person. How could someone devalue the years you spent together with such dismissive statements and lack of emotion and care?

Well, a sociopath, that’s who!

Once the sociopath no longer needs you or realizes he can’t use you for further supply, you become dead to the sociopath. His memory is wiped clean of you, because he was never able to connect with you on a spiritual level in the first place. You were just a material thing, an acquisition and a conquest; it’s easy to toss away things. In no uncertain terms, you become trash and garbage in the eyes of the sociopath.

You do not exist. You are worthless and so was the relationship. Poof! You’re nothing.

So harsh! You are unable to compute how the sociopath was able to come to such a conclusion about you and your worth. Once you recognize this reality, when you hear it in his tone and learn of it through the smear campaign, you may become desperate to make him see how wrong he is. You may try to delay the end. You may call him and beg and barter with him. You may get down on your hands and knees and say you’re sorry and would do anything to prove to him that you are worthy of his eternal friendship and love.

But, more than likely, by the time you make such a spectacle of yourself, the sociopath has already found a new source of supply. By doing this, you just end up looking like a crazy and desperate fool. The sociopath does not care what you have to say. He does not acknowledge any of the truth you might be speaking. However, the sociopath loves that you keep begging him and pleading with him to be nicer to you. These are the moments that feed the sociopath, and he shares these pleadings with his current victim/girlfriend/fiancee to prove to them how insane you are, “Jesus! This woman is so sick. She just can’t let go and accept I don’t want anything to do with her.”

The boy in my story described several women from his past in this way. (I’m definitely added to that list now. Hehe!) But was it really letting go of him that they were unable to do? Was his teenage lover really desperate to marry him after all these years because she was delusional and couldn’t accept the end of the relationship? Was the ex-girlfriend from Ohio, now married with children, pining for the boy because she still loved him? Did I call him after my stepfather died because I needed him to comfort me?

No. None of us really needed him in our lives. What we needed from him was a glimmer of humanity that we never received when the relationship ended. All we got was drama, hate and lies. We were desperate to be treated as humans.

But expecting to be treated as a human when the relationship with a sociopath ends is hoping in vane. It will never happen. Why? Because the sociopath isn’t human like you and me. He has no conscience. So why on earth would the sociopath treat you like you were human if he doesn’t even know what it feels like to be human with a conscience?

He wouldn’t, because he can’t. The sociopath is not capable of treating you like anything other than a disposable piece of flesh.


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blindfold, Paula Carrasquillo, Paula Renee Carrasquillo, Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo, psychopath, sociopath, awareness, dating a sociopath, divorcing a narcissist

Blindfolded and in the Fire Zone of the Sociopath

blindfoldRemember that game we played as kids? The one in which you were blindfolded, spun in circles five times and then set out in search for some hidden item or person? And the closer you got to that item, your friends would call out things like, “You’re getting warmer, warmer.” And once you stepped directly in the path of that item, your friends would scream, “You’re so hot, you’re on fire!” And you’d reach out and touch it, and the game would be over. You won!

Remember that game? Well, it’s the game I feel like I need to (hypothetically) play with the people coming to my blog from Northern Virginia. I want to (hypothetically) scream:

“You are on fire. You’re so close! You’re in the fire zone of the sociopath!”

But I can’t, and I won’t (hypothetically). All I can offer is a (hypothetical) warning:

Don’t extend your reach because there is no winner, only losers when you invite a sociopath into your life. And please don’t think you can be the one to finally defeat or tame that beast. It’s a trick your mind (and the sociopath’s) are playing on you. He may seem fixed and cured, but that’s a facade, another mask, one of his three favorite masks:

  • Victim (She’s destroying me! Everything she says is a lie.)
  • Savior(Only I can help you! You need me.)
  • Persecutor(You’re a whore just like everyone else! You’re dead to me.)

The truth is he doesn’t really care if you stay or go. Don’t get me wrong. When he asks you not to leave, he means it. But he doesn’t want you to stay because he loves you so much. He’s just enjoyed controlling you. He sees his ability to control you as love. Love means control. Anyone and anything that he can successfully control 100%, he loves: his dog, his girlfriend, his workers, his illegal friends.

But the biggest reason he doesn’t want you to leave is because he can’t stand the whole “starting over” bit. Damn! Just when he thought he had you in the perfect place of control, you decide to leave. You know how much effort and “hiding” on his part went into getting you right where he thought he had you?

So he’ll cry like a big old baby if you suggest you want out of the relationship. He’ll promise to be better. He’ll promise never to do “that” again (whatever “that” may be). He’ll make you feel so dizzy from the wailing and crying that you’ll say, “Okay. I’m willing to try” just so your head will stop spinning. (Mind control. Believe it!)

And let’s say (hypothetically) that you do decide to stay. I suggest that you tell him the very next day that you changed your mind and you are serious this time and will be leaving him. Like the day before, he’ll wail and cry about. But this time, don’t give in. Don’t succumb to the toddler tactics.

This time, when you refuse to listen to the shame and blame of the 35+-year-old toddler before you, the most sinister thing will happen right before your eyes:

You will witness the moment you become dead to him. The black, glassed-over, gaze of his eyes upon you (or rather through you) tell the complete story. It’s dark and evil and totally empty. (This is your visual proof of the absence of attachment he feels for you or anything about you. You may have missed this, especially if the breakup occurred over the phone or through email. Dammit!)

If you do witness this or have witnessed it, never forget it and take it as the best and only proof you will ever receive regarding what he is and where his soul is.

He’s a sociopath whose soul belongs to the devil.

Accept it. Take off the blindfold. No need to reach out for proof that further contact will hurt you. You know intuitively that fire causes inevitable harm, and the closer you get, the worse the burn. Now it’s time to believe sociopaths are just as destructive. And the only way to stop a fire is to douse it, to kill it. Make the sociopath dead to you just like you’re dead to him. It’s not an easy feat. But it’s achievable. Trust me. 🙂


~ Paula

(Image Source)

Living Inside Out Loud

Living Inside Out LoudIt’s official! My biography and column page for Living Inside Out Loud are live and ready for my first submission to The Washington Times Communities. I’m so excited to write and publish my first story, hopefully, by the end of this week.

I am determined to bring more awareness to the connection between personality disorders, domestic violence/intimate partner abuse, and PTSD to as many people willing to read about it. I’ll be providing many references, resources, and expert testimony in each article. Stories will be more formal than my postings here but will hopefully add credibility to an otherwise overlooked social and family issue.


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