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Surviving Domestic Abuse: The Complexities of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD & CPTSD)

Between 50% and 60% of women mental health service users have
experienced domestic violence, and up to 20% will be experiencing
current abuse.(Department of Health, 2003; Bowstead, Janet, 2000;
ReSisters, 2002).

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Please note - all persons, places and objects shown in the images in this hub are models and are shown for illustrative purposes only. They bear no relation to any real person or event. Unless otherwise credited, images are under the following copyright:

{Copyright (c) 2010 "safe-at-last" and Licensors Nodtronics Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.}

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was first referred to in 1997 by Judith Herman in her book titled Trauma and Recovery. It is probably only in the last 5 years however that psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals have become more widely aware of the disorder that is similar to, yet distinct from, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


In this hub I will examine both disorders (in layman's terms, as I am only a "backyard psychologist"). I will also share with you some of my own experiences with the aim of giving other victims some help and support, and providing non victims with an insight that will foster empathy and understanding. Please note I have no qualifications other than 16 years of experience as a victim of domestic violence and 2 separate instances of childhood sexual abuse (both at the hands of adult perpetrators who were well known to me, and whom I had trusted prior to their betraying me) . At the end of the article I will provide links to resources and some other interesting material...

A Basic Definition of each Disorder


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined as "a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's ability to cope."

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined as "a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim. C-PTSD is distinct from, but similar to, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."

(Both definitions thanks to Wikipedia)

The Invisible Wounds that cause PTSD & Complex PTSD

Image Thanks To: http://s40.photobucket.com/home/ilovetakingphotos

Image Thanks To: http://s40.photobucket.com/home/ilovetakingphotos

PTSD is caused by a specific traumatic event such as a natural disaster, life threatening incident such as an assault or rape, or witnessing such an event happen to another person, particularly a loved one. The result is a single psychiatric injury that is contained to a single memory pathway of neurons.

Unlike PTSD, which can develop after a person has experienced a specific event that was traumatic enough to cause a psychiatric injury, Complex PTSD develops after a person has experienced many traumatic events. Such circumstances can be found situations of ongoing abuse, for example: childhood abuse, family/domestic violence and work place bullying.

Each specific episode of abuse or bullying involved in the ongoing trauma results in the victim suffering a psychiatric injury, and so, over time, many many psychiatric injuries are inflicted. Due to the ongoing nature of such traumas, the individual events and resulting psychiatric injuries are spread out through hundreds of related memory pathways and thousands of neurons, neural clusters, and neural networks.

Unlike the single psychiatric injury that causes PTSD, the multiple psychiatric injuries that cause Complex PTSD therefore affect multiple memory pathways and neural clusters.

Unlike the single psychiatric injury that causes PTSD, the multiple psychiatric injuries that cause Complex PTSD therefore affect multiple memory pathways and neural clusters.

Complex PTSD, because of the difference in the nature of its cause, therefore presents with different symptoms to PTSD although often these symptoms are present with some or all of the symptoms typically associated with PTSD. It is possible that the level of trauma that causes the psychiatric injuries can vary and therefore, while many minor psychiatric injuries can result in CPTSD, a combination of minor and major psychiatric injuries can result in both types of PTSD.

I conclude that Complex PTSD is caused by a more complex set of circumstances, and the type of psychiatric injury that results is also more complex. The symptoms of Complex PTSD are also more subtle and varied, or dare I say, more complex, and further more, the disorder requires different understanding, support. and treatment. It is a matter of needing to understand the context of a person's experiences and therefore the nature of their emotional and physiological reactions. Of course even the same person is going to respond differently to the trauma of, for example, a single car accident compared to the trauma endured through on going abuse.

The Signs and Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Attempted murder, violent assault and rape are common causes of PTSD

Attempted murder, violent assault and rape are common causes of PTSD

Witnessing something horrific such as a murder or fatal accident can cause also cause PTSD.

Witnessing something horrific such as a murder or fatal accident can cause also cause PTSD.

~ Recurrent re-experiencing of or re-living of the trauma. For example:

  • Troublesome memories of associated events and people
  • Flashbacks
  • Recurring nightmares

~ Chronic physiological signs of hyper-arousal. For example:

  • Sleep problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Unusual or increased irritability
  • "Blackouts" and/or difficulty remembering things
  • Exaggerated startled reflex (increased tendency and over- reaction to being startled)
  • Hyper-vigilance (always on the look out for threat, increased awareness of things often leading to feelings of being paranoid)

~ Problems regulating feelings. For example:

  • Trouble regulating strong emotions such as anger, fear, anger, despair, sadness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Uncharacteristic episodes of explosive anger
  • Ongoing sense of helplessness, hopelessness, loss and/or despair
  • Persistent, invasive feelings of helplessness, shame or guilt
  • Feelings of being completely different from others

~Avoidance of anything related to the trauma. For example:

  • Fear or even phobia of associated places and people
  • Reluctance to talk of the experience
  • Fear of situations that may trigger related memories (eg: watching the news on TV)
  • Anxiety when doing things related to the trauma (eg: driving in a car after a severe car accident)

~Persistent feelings that the cause of the trauma is all-powerful. For example:

  • if the cause of the trauma was a natural disaster, some people may feel that it was God's way of punishing mankind for crime and polution
  • if the trauma was caused by another person (ie: assault) then the victim may become preoccupied with either revenge against or allegiance with the perpetrator

~ Noticeable decrease in doing things that give the sufferer's life meaning. For example:

  • Loss of spiritual faith
  • Failure to engage in previously enjoyed past-times, hobbies or intellectual pursuits

The Subtle Signs of Complex PTSD

(quoted from www.bullyonline.org/stress/ptsd.htm)

-Fatigue with symptoms of or similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (formerly ME)
-An anger of injustice stimulated to an excessive degree (sometimes but improperly attracting the words "manic" instead of motivated, "obsessive" instead of focused, and "angry" instead of "passionate", especially from those with something to fear)
-An overwhelming desire for acknowledgement, understanding, recognition and validation of their experience
-A simultaneous and paradoxical unwillingness to talk about the bullying (click here to see why) or abuse (click here to see why)
-A lack of desire for revenge, but a strong motivation for justice
-A tendency to oscillate between conciliation (forgiveness) and anger (revenge) with objectivity being the main casualty
-Extreme fragility, where formerly the person was of a strong, stable character
-Numbness, both physical (toes, fingertips, and lips) and emotional (inability to feel love and joy)
-Hyperawareness and an acute sense of time passing, seasons changing, and distances travelled
-An enhanced environmental awareness, often on a planetary scale
-An appreciation of the need to adopt a healthier diet, possibly reducing or eliminating meat - especially red meat
-Willingness to try complementary medicine and alternative, holistic therapies, etc
-A constant feeling that one has to justify everything one says and does
-A constant need to prove oneself, even when surrounded by good, positive people
-An unusually strong sense of vulnerability, victimisation or possible victimisation, often wrongly diagnosed as "persecution"
-Occasional violent intrusive visualisations
-Feelings of worthlessness, rejection, a sense of being unwanted, unlikeable and unlovable
-A feeling of being small, insignificant, and invisible
-An overwhelming sense of betrayal, and a consequent inability and unwillingness to trust anyone, even those close to you
-In contrast to the chronic fatigue, depression etc, occasional false dawns with sudden bursts of energy accompanied by a feeling of "I'm better!", only to be followed by a full resurgence of symptoms a day or two later

Justification and paranoia are 2 significant symptoms which have recently become associated with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Many who suffer PTSD will present as paranoiacs, but more often than not they will be acutely aware of seeming paranoid, because they feel paranoid. A true paranoiac will not even consider the possibility that they may be paranoid, whereas paranoia associated with PTSD stems from the persons experiences in the past, and are the result of a natural state of arousal in response to those experiences: hyper-vigilance.

A true paranoiac would, for example, state that "There is somebody stalking me and they are going to kill me, I know this for a fact" where as a victim of abuse who has developed CPTSD will be aware of the fact that their feelings seem to be over-reactions and sound a bit far fetched, and will doubt their interpretations of things, often feeling that they must be overreacting, or even going crazy.

Even so, they will find themselves unable to ignore these feelings, and because of their confusion and self doubt they will often begin sentences in a way that expresses as much, for example "This will sound completely paranoid, but..." or "I think I am going crazy, because..." . Unfortunately, in situations of domestic violence, their feelings are often more than justified, and this complicates things even further.

A Complex Debate....

As I have already mentioned, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was first referred to in 1997 by Judith Herman in her book titled Trauma and Recovery. It is probably only in the last 5 years however that psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals have become more widely aware of the disorder that is similar to, yet distinct from, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

There has been quite a lot of controversy regarding the disorder since Herman first discussed the concept, and even today the debate continues as to whether Complex PTSD should be recognized as a separate disorder to PTSD.

Below I will put forward a case for the importance of recognizing Complex PTSD as a similar but distinct disorder, by sharing my own experiences.

My story

I developed PTSD after a horrific motor cycle accident as a teenager, and was eventually diagnosed after 2 years of misery. From there I was treated with Rapid Eye Movement Desensitization. It took about 6 sessions over 6 weeks, each of which was emotionally distressing in itself, and therefore "hard work", but the result was fantastic - no more nightmares, flashbacks, blackouts, exaggerated startle reflex, etc... that I had endured for 2 years since the accident. My depression lifted and my physical pain reduced substantially too.

I am sure you can understand why I was then keen to try the same treatment 10 years later when I was again diagnosed with PTSD following my long relationship of domestic violence. Unfortunately however, the treatment did not work that time. Instead of moving from once specifically related memory to another during the desensitization, my mind just kind of skipped along the surface of many different issues, instead of the specific instances of violence. After that my other psychologist suggested CPTSD, although he was not able to make the diagnosis as it is not yet included in the DSM. I did research it however, and my thoughts were pretty straight forward: "I guess the events that had caused me to have PTSD this time were more complex!".

Every professional who had dealt with me prior to 2004 could never figure out what the hell was wrong with me, except for that I had PTSD and depression. They did not know why it kept occurring though. Luckily for me and my kids, I now have the luxury of knowing what my problems are (finally).

I have now had 3 people ( psychiatrist, clinical psychologist and a psychologist who is a leading expert in brain imaging) diagnose me with the same thing: Chronic AD/HD, Level 4 PTSD, situational/reactive depression (now under control) and situation social anxiety. All 3 of these mental health experts were thorough enough to be able to gain an insight into my experiences and from that were able to identify that apart from my AD/HD which has been present since early childhood (but never diagnosed), the rest of my symptom clusters suggested a reactive disorder or 2 or 3 (co-morbidities), all of which only manifested in adulthood and while in a situation of family violence, and therefore that they had to be the direct result of the abuse rather than internal chemical imbalances.

They also all acknowledged that they would only be able to help with those areas of my treatment in which they specialize, and told me I would need ongoing support from a therapist who specifically deals with victims of abuse, because the complexities involved with my experiences and therefore also my recovery, were beyond the realm of their experience. I am lucky though that they recognized this, instead of misdiagnosing me or deciding to have a go at blind treatment with good old fashioned trial and error, although they credited me for their astuteness, saying that I had a much higher than average capacity for self awareness which increased my ability to draw logical conclusions by taking into consideration the limited knowledge I had picked up along the way.

They also all made a few other observations in time. They tell me that on top of my "official" diagnoses, I have developed coping mechanisms that present as "tendencies" towards other disorders. In other words, I display certain symptoms periodically, usually in certain situations, which resemble the symptoms of other disorders, but are not persistent or prominent enough to warrant diagnosis of those disorders. They referred to these "tendencies" as Obsessive Compulsive tendencies and tendencies towards oppositional defiance.

I think that I come across to most people (and some therapists) as a paranoiac, and part of my social anxiety probably stems from my self awareness. I know I sound paranoid (I start some sentences with "I know this sounds completely paranoid BUT....") and trust me, I feel paranoid most of the time until my ex makes a mistake and I have no choice but to accept the proof, but then I feel paranoid again when lots of little things paint a picture but cannot be proved, until the next time and then the cycle starts again. There is also one other very big elephant in the Mel-personality-room: justification.

I used to have annoyingly persistent and embarrassing tendency to justify, or should I say over-justify, everything I did and thought and felt to anybody and everybody, even when I was with positive, supportive people, and despite the fact that I was acutely aware of such excessive justification for years (even a stranger in the street would be a target occasionally), I seemed completely unable to stop myself from doing it again and again. Thank heavens I have improved to the point of being almost normal, EXCEPT in certain situations...

It was much the same when it came to my paranoia. I knew that the things I was experiencing would be completely beyond the realm of normal experience. I even became a back yard detective in an attempt to prove to myself once and for all that I was either crazy, or that I was indeed being stalked. Of course I proved beyond all doubt that I was being stalked, but that did not mean that the things that were happening sounded any less crazy, and combined with my social anxiety and tendency to immediately launch into a detailed explanation of everything in order to justify my fears, concerns or actions, I think I came across as more crazy than ever before in the end. I did eventually learned to keep my mouth shut and just record it all in my journals instead, but that did not solve the problem.

When talking about anything other than my ex I would come across as completely normal (if occasionally a little hyper due to my AD/HD), and people would think I was intelligent, witty, insightful and completely sane. HOWEVER, as soon as I spoke about my ex, I would change into a complete basket case and people would conclude that I was a paranoiac who was also more than a little neurotic! This compounded all of my other issues, and in the end made things much much worse as I withdrew from those who could support me because I was continually embarrassed my my inability to self edit. (Lol no wonder it is called crazy making abuse!)

The case for recognizing CPTSD

It is definitely true that therapists need to be able to consider the context of our experiences and how they have played a huge roll in the way our brains and bodies have reacted. The fact is that PTSD is caused by a specific traumatic event, and the resulting psychiatric injury therefore does not extend through hundreds of memory pathways and neural clusters. On the other hand, complex PTSD is caused by many many separate events, which occur over a long period of time, all of which are however, related to a single significant theme - most often a specific person (eg: perpetrator of abuse/ sexual abuse/ bullying etc...), situation/location (eg: school/workplace where victim was repeatedly bullied; church where victim was repeatedly sexually abused by priest, childhood home where there was ongoing family violence; etc...), and/or group of people (eg: multiple perpetrators of family violence/child abuse; members of pedophile ring; gang members / group of school bullies / multiple unassociated bullies / co-workers and/or upper management personnel who were responsible for work-place harassment/ mobbing/ bullying, etc...), and the psychiatric injuries from each of those events are therefore spread out through thousands of related memory pathways and neural networks - so it is a much more complex injury, and requires different understanding and support.

New treatments and medications can only be discovered when there is something to research, and I believe that complex PTSD is probably widely under diagnosed and leads to many misdiagnoses such as borderline personality disorder etc... Disorders such as those are internally caused by chemical balances and such, and can never be cured although they can be treated.

On the bright side, PTSD and Complex PTSD are psychiatric injuries and they can be recovered from. The symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, are not internal chemical imbalances, but reactive or situational disorders, and so people suffering from either disorder can make a FULL recovery in time.

Find Out More:

Please Read My Other Articles Related to Abuse

Crazy Making Emotional Abuse, Domestic Violence & Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Emotional Abuse & The Power of the Perpetrator

A Survival Guide For Victims Of Family Violence & Domestic Abuse

Perpetrators Perfecting the Fine Art of Institutional Grooming (Family Violence, Child Abuse)

An Insight into an Abused Mother's Reality - My Story (Family Court, Shared Parenting Laws & Child Protection)

Soulmate or Psychopath (Profile of a psychopath)

Sexual Addiction: Sex Addicts Killing Love for Lust


Please join me on FaceBook

  • STOP the Violence Against Women & Children
    Organize to Resist! Together we can take on the Predators! Let's Break the Silence to End the Violence by working together to make our voices a Resounding SHOUT!!! Perpetrators BEWARE - you don't stand a chance!

Please Note:

All names in this article have been changed for legal purposes and to protect the privacy of the Author. Except where otherwise credited, or where text forms part of an external link, this article is under the following copyright:

Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last", of Perth, Western Australia. All rights reserved.

All persons, places and objects shown in the images in this hub are are shown for illustrative purposes only. They bear no relation to any real person or event. All persons shown are paid models. Unless otherwise credited, all images are under the following copyright:

Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last" and Licensors Nodtronics Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.


Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on May 07, 2013:

Thanks for the article. I am currently suffering from PTSD because of a cult I inadvertently joined 17 years ago. It resulted in my being physically attacked, and life was almost ruined. I'm currently getting counseling for it, so I won't make such a mistake again.

Blurred on October 08, 2012:

I had never heard of Compex PTSD before reading this. Thank you! I was diagnosed with PTSD last year and I think she even said 'complex' but I didn't grasp that. I believe I have it for at least 6 years now that I have read this. My abuse stems from a man who I believe has Narcissistic PD. This is reaching our children as well as I am seeing the signs for it in them too. There is such caution in everything I do and say now even with them, I am being controlled still which sounds crazy... but it gets back to him and then is used against me with them and will be in court since our divorce is still ongoing (dragged out by him with continuance after continuance). Everything gets twisted no matter how trivial and I am made out to be the crazy one or the controlling one. The kids call me controlling if I stick to the parenting time or not let them do something, but not if it comes from him. He has had all the control for so many years and now it looks like I am the one trying to control and manipulate! I tell the right people, lawyers and such, what I am supposed to about what he is doing and it comes back on me even though they said to tell them everything. Now I can't. So I do just what you've written about, I over explain myself - to everyone - about everything. I can't stop, I have to justify myself constantly. My children ask for the justification and then tell me they don't want to hear it. I am in the middle of hell. I do see a counselor but wish I had her everyday to off load on to. I have friends who just don't get it but I didn't even get what was up with me until I read this. This helped me even understand what my councilor has been saying. I wish I could send this link to those around me who I need right now to help see what I am going through but, like you had said about the trust issues, I'm afraid now to trust most of those who I have trusted before. I am in fear still because he can get to me still emotionally and mentally and will be able to through the kids, and he knows it. This I am not paranoid about. The subtly of it all is calculated. How do you fight against it and survive? I am so incredibly reactive to all and go through the same of having great days, and then one thing is said or comes to me through an email or the kids (even though these things would look to others as what's the big deal) and bam! Un-Functioning for days, in tears, highly sensitive, numb finger tips and lips.

ALJfree on April 18, 2012:

Thank you so much for this blog, FINALLY, something makes perfect sense in my world and my daughters. The whole feeling well, then crashing again, is amazingly accurate, sheesh the whole thing is.

A little twist on my CPTSD is the chronic obsession with goal setting and meeting, and being a survivor Not allowing Victim to be a part of mine or my daughters identities.

I have a hard time not having hard guidelines and structures in specific areas of my life. Things that make my life more peaceful.

I have also found that a trigger is fast paced loud anything, even up to and including my daughter talking really fast and animatedly about several subjects at once.

I have been told I am a highly functioning head trauma and PTSD survivor. Its only been 4 months of absolute safety and peace in our lives and we are doing so well considering.

Thank you again for this, after 2 years of running and hiding and healing and surviving and now finally thriving this is a relief to know I am not the only one that has these reactions!

You are a brave woman for posting this and one worth looking up too!

Anonymous on February 02, 2012:

Thank you for sharing your experiences. I totally relate to all of your experiences. My children & I have been diagnosed with cptsd after experiencing domestic violence that eventually lead to him attempting to kill me. Your story & responding post brings hope of recovery & gaining our lives back. Thank you for sharing

Naomi on February 01, 2012:

"I used to have annoyingly persistent and embarrassing tendency to justify, or should I say over-justify, everything I did and thought and felt to anybody and everybody, even when I was with positive, supportive people, and despite the fact that I was acutely aware of such excessive justification for years (even a stranger in the street would be a target occasionally), I seemed completely unable to stop myself from doing it again and again."

That is me, to an extreme degree. =(

I was raised by an NPD parent and have been referred to ADHD testing.

Mel Stewart (author) from Western Australia on October 21, 2011:

Anonymous, I am sorry that you feel this way. I find myself wondering if you have perhaps had some traumatic experiences yourself and have been experiencing cyberbullying recently, which has led to you seeking information on PTSD. I think the way you are feeling is rather poignant to the whole topic of trauma related PTSD & CPTSD and can empathize with how you are feeling at this stage in your recovery. I have observed similar responses to positive and enlightening information in other victims who are in the early stages of their journey. I hope that you are able to find the answers you seek and/or are able to access information that empowers and helps you, and perhaps a therapist who is knowledgeable on the topic with whom you can feel safe and understood. I wish you all the best in your journey toward healing and self awareness.

Anonymous on October 20, 2011:

Ever stopped to think that maybe you're the abuser? You seem like an attention-seeking bully.

I think you have narcissistic personality disorder.

Please take down this blog. It's unfair to people researching PTSD to have to read this blog run by an abusive bully. It's misleading and you really play the victim. I think you've engaged in abusive or bullying behavior, maybe even on this website, cyberbullying and God will punish you for it.

It's also unfair to bullyonline for you to quote their information on one hand then engage in bullying behavior on the other. It's misleading and hypocrisy. I hope God punishes you for all your crimes.

The only thing that can help you is God, but it seems like you're still far away from it.

I'm never visiting this site again. Please take it down.

Sandy on October 04, 2011:

Our stories are so entirely identical, the more I read of this article, the more subtle the year long trembling in my muscles, stomach and heart became. The ADHD, the justified paranoia, the lifelong feelings of always needing to prove myself & words (I believe due to a father who unjustly accused me of lying my entire childhood), fighting for the safety of my abused children (with a severely NPD sexually, physically, emotionally and financially abusive father), who has perfected the art of manipulating an entire small community, who have themselves perfected the art of "sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity". I have been tirelessly fighting down every avenue to save my babies, all the while trying to keep myself from slipping permanently into a defeated void of nothingness. The pain is so deep with so much information, I can't yet speak or write it out in a way that makes any sense, not that I can ever get past the several roadblocks and emotionally charged physical symptoms to finish anyway.

However, to learn that there is someone else out there who has lived "my" life before me and is now on the road to recovery, is just what I needed AT THIS VERY MOMENT to keep going. It's nice to have hope in Justice, Freedom, Protection, Understanding, Normalcy, Acceptance and Happiness again..

Thank you...

Ktsm on April 26, 2011:

Oh Well! I was looking for information to help my daughter with her trauma and fears and I found this information, it is pretty good, I just learn that I can be suffering myself from CPTSD, we lived under abuse. I could identified most of the symptoms you describe above. My child could be having the same, I just hate my self for allow this man to treat us so bad, so much damage in our brains and soul, I couldn't identified the abuse in the beginning it took me 3 years to understand that we need to protect ourself from that sick man

marion on February 25, 2011:

I can so much relate to most of this.. and i feel wrecked and exhausted physically and mentally all the time.. But still hoping to heal from this one happy day..

Jackie Paulson from USA IL on January 21, 2011:

wow, I really liked this as domestic violence is so real. I have a homeless domestic girl for now-she was so beaten by her husband we are helping her. So I am a dye hard helper and believe it needs to be addressed and others should help too.

Dawn Michael from THOUSAND OAKS on November 23, 2010:

Hi Prayzes, excellent article and thank-you for sharing your experiences. Have you and your doctors ever tried body work to relieve the trama stored in your muscles? Just curious because I happened on it myself in my yoga classes, I had so much tension stored in my muscle memory and after a year of doing yoga at home, because I would break down and cry each time and I did not want to do it at a yoga studio, but after a year, I was able to release my tension in my muscles and it helped with my flash back or visions, not sure what to call them. I watched my father die a very painful death and his voice, face and smell two week ordeal I was reliving over and over. I am better now but I had no idea at the time how tense I was holding back my own emotions.

Ed Tatum on November 09, 2010:

EXCELLENT HUB. I really enjoyed this we used an excerpt of this post to get people to come here for further knowledge. Thank you so much for sharing this information.

François on October 13, 2010:

Hi! As a victim of borderline personality disorder, following a sexual abuse at 7 and years of psychological abuse and bullying, I found a much more meaningful expression to describe it in the dedicated wikipedia article: Post Traumatic Personality Disorganization. Yes, us victims of that disorder have trouble with the first denomination, as we find it a bit stigmatizing. Also, it is not due to a chemical imbalance in my experience, as I almost recovered from it only with the help of my psychologist, and one year of hard work. She says I'm improving very fast. Well, not enough for my taste, though...

Thank you for this very insightful hub!

Mel Stewart (author) from Western Australia on October 13, 2010:

Hi Prayzes. Thank you for the feedback. The childhood sexual abuse happened when I was 9 and 15, but I did not remember the incident from when I was 9 until a few years ago. The accident happened when I was 17. I was in a physically violent relationship till i was 21. The next relationship was mainly emotional and psychological abuse with intermittent sexual abuse and physical violence. I am quite far along in my recovery but I think I will have issues for years to come. This article was not a cry for help. All my articles are written in the hopes of providing other victims with the knowledge they need to get out and get help, and to provide non victims with an insight that will foster the empathy needed to bring change. My main reason for writing however is my kids. They have been abused by their dad and do not want to see him but because of the shared care laws I am having a hard time keeping my promise to them. I just want to raise awareness because women and children are dying at the hands of violent perpetrators, and further more victims are often blamed for the violence and many suffer the injustice of being incorrectly diagnosed and then persecuted for problems they don't have. Please read my other hubs if you would like to know more...

Prayzes on October 13, 2010:

Oh boy, this is a heavy matter. Once, I saw Wikipedia - I did not want to go further in reading this article. But, I skipped over the wiki definition and tried to grasp the information you wanted to relay. I am not sure of the order of events for example did the sexual abuse happen before the accident? Then, the abusive relationship, I am assuming this was physical abuse which couples with emotional abuse. At one point, I was wondering if this is a cry for help. Personally, I believe we are spirit, soul and body. Have you considered the spiritual dynamics of your experiences and exposures? Where are you in your recovery? Regardless, you have my prayers.

Mel Stewart (author) from Western Australia on October 12, 2010:

Thank you mt. Believe it or not I was an A student in English and usually am a stickler for punctuation - well spotted!

mt on October 12, 2010:

Very interesting article. Just today, a student (I'm a high school teacher) wrote about being raped and the subsequent psychological battles she has faced. I will share this info.

(But PLEASE take out the apostrophe in the "its" that is located near the "Medusa" head...with the apostrophe, what is being said is "it is" rather than its.) Sorry. I teach both English and psychology.

lisa.bom on October 11, 2010:

This was very insightful. I too suffer from PTSD. I am also bipolar. I am constantly looking for more information. I seem to be getting worse instead of better. I see a psychologist regularly. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading more of your hubs.

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