This post is a continuation of a series started in But therapy can take us a long way: Learning Developmental Skills Part 1. In this post, I want to talk about learning to identify and express your needs. For most trauma victims, this is most definitely a skipped part of development. Because the caretaker is putting their own needs ahead of the child’s when abusing them, by definition the child’s needs are being overlooked and pushed aside. How do you learn to identify and express something that is not even acknowledged to exist?
A long-term trauma victim often becomes hyper-vigilant. They learn to watch their abuser and observe their behavior in minute detail in the hope of getting some warning before an episode of abuse. So they’re paying a whole lot more attention to the abuser’s feelings and needs than their own. Add to this the fact that many victims of long-term abuse believe and/or are told the abuse is their fault, so they are also watching the abuser for cues about who they need to be and what they need to do to “finally” make the abuser happy with them and stop the abuse. (This serves the function of providing some sense of control in a situation in which you are powerless and have none.) Your own feelings and needs fade to insignificance in the face of needing to survive. Continue Reading
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