What is Double Abuse + How to Prevent It

We at The MEND Project have found that what is true and extremely damaging for most victims of Primary Abuse (adult, adolescent, or child physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, workplace abuse, any form of domestic violence, sex trafficking, bullying) is the Double Abuse, cultural or group, which victims too often receive when reaching out for help.

Here are some examples:

Double Abuse is responsible for escalating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder into Complex PTSD, a much more difficult and serious form of trauma to heal. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the result of either an acute event or cumulative trauma, usually via troubled relationships, which does not get processed or resolved (G. Erwin, 2000). Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Complex PTSD) is defined as ongoing psychological stress injury, which results from repeated trauma over which the victim has little or no control, and from which there is no real or perceived hope of escape (see www.outofthestorm.website).

Author and psychotherapist, Belleruth Naparstek, found in her research of over 70 studies on trauma that individuals who escaped suffering from PTSD were those who were believed, supported, respected, and even exalted for their sacrifice and experience. According to Naparstek, one thing is certain: victims and survivors of trauma deserve the utmost respect.

If this is true, what happens when the opposite takes place?
The cost to the victim is added cruelty.

Trauma sets in motion serious emotional and physiological reactions that can themselves be debilitating or terrorizing. This means trauma goes on to negatively affect a person’s physical health and psychological wellbeing. There is a biochemical and involuntary muscular skeletal chain of events that can result in an unusual number of medical problems. Belleruth Naparstek explains it this way: “PTSD presents some sort of conflated disturbance in the regulation of our neurobiological [the mind], endocrinological [hormonal, developmental, sleep, mood, sexual function, growth, metabolism, and tissue function] and immunological systems” (Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal).

We also love this quote from Judith Herman’s renowned work on trauma.

How To Help Prevent the Development of PTSD Into CPTSD

We must all take note of the harm we might do to another if we don’t slow down enough to be present and show compassion to those experiencing trauma.The response to abuse and the victim from the community can truly be like Kintsugi’s golden repair. There is life-giving power in connection with others that serves the healing process in essential ways. When coming alongside a victim of abuse you may be able to prevent her development of PTSD in to CPTSD by making a pivotal mark in the trauma victim’s life. Early in a victim’s process, after she’s experienced trauma, there is a pathway to hope where you can shift her mindset from despair and self-blame to grace and restoration. The victim is never the one on which to cast blame, whatever your opinion, perspective, or worldview may be. She has chosen to come to you for support, empathy, and consideration. Listen to her. Set yourself and your experience, upbringing, or predisposed biases aside, and be with her in her pain. Remind her that this was not her fault.

Will you be another push to the ground?

Or will you offer a gentle hand, reaching out to help her stand up again?  

Below you will find our approach of handling trauma.

The harmful response paralyzes progress and escalates trauma and the healing model supports healing.