Abuse - Trauma
Q. I’m very concerned about my neighbor’s children. They are frequently yelled at and, in turn, yell at other children.
Q. I grew up in a very abusive background. In adulthood I lived in an equally abusive environment because, I am beginning to realize, it’s what my brain knows. In a few weeks I will be released from a safe house—for a second time—where I have been recovering from an episode of severe physical and sexual battering. The doctors have advised me never to return to the same environment. My minister, on the other hand, tells me I need to “turn the other cheek” and try again because my daughter needs a father. I’m having difficulty reconciling these two perspectives. (My partner is remorseful and says he is willing to seek help for his alcohol and battering addictions. Of course, he said that last time, too, and never followed through, but when not drinking, he’s really rather pleasant much of the time.) Do you have any comments?
Q. I heard you say that anger is just a signal to get your attention and tell you your boundaries have been invaded. Okay, I get that. But I'm still fuming about that boundary invasion three days later.
Q. Recently I was diagnosed with not one but two autoimmune diseases. My therapist told me that some of this may be due to childhood experiences when our home was filled with dysfunctional physical, emotion, and sexual abuse. Is that even remotely possible?
Q. Recently I heard about a child who had died while playing a game called Black-Out, and that a pediatrician had been found dead as a result of a similar type of activity. What is it and how does it affect the brain?
Q. Recently I broke up with someone I love very much—he could not or would not be monogamous. Furthermore, he couldn’t seem to understand the reason I found his behavior upsetting. He says that I’m the one he loves the most and the others are just for letting off steam. Even knowing our break-up was for the best, my heart is fractured and I can’t seem to get back on track. What’s wrong with my brain?
Q. I once heard you use the term counterfeit forgiveness and said it was filled with hidden dangers. I’m confused. I thought forgiveness was forgiveness.
Q. My grandson started hitting me when he was about age five. I pick him up from school five days a week until his mother gets home from work. He is now thirteen and much bigger. He threw a glass and hit me in the head last week. A couple days later he put his fist through the wall. Earlier this week he punched me in the chest. It hurt. If anyone else did that I’d call the police, but this is “my grandson!” Yes, he is angry because his father was killed in Pakistan, but it is starting to feel as if he is taking it out on us. I know he hits his mother, but she always says it was an accident and he didn’t really mean it. We don’t want to spank him because he just becomes uncontrollable and goes into a rage, so we have tried reasoning with him and taking away privileges. It may work for a day or two but then something else will happen. He slung a dinner plate at a large mirror in the dining room yesterday and they splintered into smithereens. What is wrong with his brain and what can we do to protect ours?
Q. There are a couple of girls in my dormitory who have experienced date rape. One of them has turned into a little mouse, afraid of her own shadow; the other has become overly assertive, determined to get you before you get her. Honestly, what’s the big deal? So, they are victims of date rape. Is there some reason they don’t “just get over it” and get on with life, for heaven’s sake?
Q. Something just really weird happened. Neighbors just moved in next door. They immediately raised the house about 5 feet and have dug a huge basement—without any windows. The fascinating thing is that the little five-year-old girl was in the yard yesterday. I greeted her and said, “Wow! That’s a big basement. What are you going to do in the basement?” I swear it was like the proverbial shutters came down behind her eyes. She was standing there but she wasn’t really there, if you know what I mean. After staring at me for a few seconds her little body started to shake and then she turned and ran back into the house. When I mentioned this to my husband he quipped, “Maybe they’re doing rituals in the basement and the little girl had dissociated.” Do you know what this means?
Q: I met someone who has huge potential and fell in love. Several years have gone by and I am really not being treated very well. When he is in a good mood he is a delightful human being. However, I never know when he will be abusively unkind or rude or use abusive language or ignore me for days at a time or accuse me of stressing him out. I thought love conquered all. Do I need to give up?
Q: My husband has three adult children, a boy and two girls. The 24-year-old girl is unusually close to him and she was very upset when we married. I don't think they've had inappropriate touching but it feels like emotional incest. They talk often on the phone and via email and he spends way too much money (my opinion as I’m the sole wage earner) on his kids, especially on her. This not only causes hard feelings in her two siblings but also uses money that is now not available for us. Recently I discovered that when he goes grocery shopping he’s been getting sizable amounts of "cash back" on transactions and using that for his kids. My husband often invites them over for Sunday afternoon backyard barbecues or Friday evening dinners and we really can't afford the outlay of food. I already owned a home when we married and he is pushing me to add his name to the deed. My attorney says NOT to do that because if anything happens to him or to our marriage, I will likely have to sell and give him (or his kids) half the equity. My husband says that if I loved him I'd put his name on the deed. I'm so confused (and the letter goes on). My brain is fried!
Q. I read your article on “forgiveness” in a recent Brain Bulletin. I also finished the book “The Body Never Lies” by Alice Miller. She made a comment about how honoring your parents can be misunderstood with resulting dire consequences. How could that be?
Q. I grew up in a very abusive background. In adulthood I lived in an equally abusive environment because, I am beginning to realize, it’s what my brain knows. In a few weeks I will be released from a safe house—for a second time—where I have been recovering from an episode of severe physical and sexual battering. The doctors have advised me never to return to the same environment. My minister, on the other hand, tells me I need to “turn the other cheek” and try again because my daughter needs a father. I’m having difficulty reconciling these two perspectives. (My partner is remorseful and says he is willing to seek help for his alcohol and battering addictions. Of course, he said that last time, too, and never followed through; but when not drinking, he’s really rather pleasant much of the time.) Do you have any comments?
Q. How can you know when others are trying to manipulate you? Recently I’ve sensed that another person has been trying to manipulate me, and then have felt guilty for even thinking such a thing. Can you give me examples of some characteristics that would indicate manipulation?
Q: After 23 years of marriage, I simply cannot take the physical and emotional abuse any longer and have decided to give up. Part of me looks forward to being on my own, in a healthier environment with our 13-year-old-daughter, and part of me feels ashamed that I am “giving up.” Is there anything I can do to help my brain feel better?
Q: Can you possibly shed some light on "reparation"? I am hearing so many comments like these:
- Many in most countries have been marginalized in one way or another—although that doesn’t make it right. You can never fix the past; you can create a better future.
- Many groups are demanding reparation. The list includes Native Americans to descendant of slaves, those abused by church clerics to underpaid females, individuals who were incarcerated improperly to Hollywood actors who were pressured to “sleep their way” to a role.
- Where is the money going to come from? Collapsing a country financially leaves no future for the next generation. Some countries abroad sold their own people into slavery in exchange for guns. That doesn’t make it right. Are those countries being asked for reparation? There does need to be everyone acting together to make equality a reality, however, perhaps half or more of the people in America had nothing to do with causing the inequalities many groups are identifying. They came to America to avoid the inequalities in their own countries.
Q. I cannot imagine what you were thinking when you said, “Spanking a child does more harm than good. In fact, some refer to corporal punishment as the lazy person’s way of discipline.” Are you out of your mind? I was spanked and I intend to keep spanking my six children!
Q. Is there any correlation between watching TV violence and memory recall?
Q. Recently I heard the acronym CTE. I have heard about TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury but not CTE. What is it?
Q: Recently I was volunteering with a large group of individuals in a special recovery program who had escaped from having been trafficked. Many healed from that trauma, learned new strategies and moved on with their lives. There is, however, a small group that seem to “want their cake and eat it too.” I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s like they want someone to “fix” the fact that they had been trafficked, while at the same time they proudly wear a victim badge, rehearsing their story endlessly and feeding off others feeling sorry for them. They are uninterested in even hearing about anyone else’s trauma, as if they don’t want their issue diluted or someone to step on their mojo (as another person put it), It is as if they are “happy” being “sad.”