The Result of Trauma

Recently someone commented on this blog, misconstruing a comment made by someone else, attacked that person, made accusations and as I was trying to remember how to block the person from making further inflammatory comments, they managed to write four more focussed entirely on me.   Each comment was more accusatory and hate filled than the next, and though they didn’t get through moderation, I saw them before deleting and successfully blocking the person and their various aliases.  And yet it made me sad to have to block them.

After years of blogging I have learned there is no use responding to such comments, because when someone has made the decision that you are hateful, and untrustworthy, really anything said will be taken as yet another example of what they’ve decided is true and reinforcing whatever it is this person believes.  Ironically, this is what happens to anyone who has been objectified, not treated as an equal or even a human being with respect and dignity, but rather has come to represent something larger than any single person can possibly be.

I have also learned that it is better to remove the offending comments than to allow them, as they do not lead to useful, productive discussion, but instead end up creating a mosh pit of anger and resentment, which can be far-reaching, upsetting and triggering to a great many, as opposed to just the one or two the original comments were directed to.

When a person has been traumatized repeatedly throughout their childhood, made to feel inadequate, told they are inferior, treated cruelly, belittled and teased mercilessly, they grow up believing, at least a little, that they deserved such abuse.  It also is common for that person to then become hyper vigilant of the same sort of cruelty being played out throughout their life with other people. It is a means of survival, as well as a way to protect themselves from more trauma.

For children especially, who’ve experienced on-going trauma, the tendency can be to see this same kind of abusive behavior that they grew up with, in others now that they are older.  Sometimes they may be correct and people really are being abusive, but other times their reaction will be incorrect.  People who wish them no harm, people who even care about them, will be viewed as abusive too, in keeping with all those people who hurt them in the past.  The original trauma will be replayed over and over leading to an unending cycle of trauma, reaction and trauma.

I’m not saying anything new here, you can read about PTSD, trauma and the result of systematic abuse over long periods of time by doing a little research yourself…

The point is, when we as a society, condemn a population of people, whether that is because of skin color, gender, neurology, sexual preference or anything else, we are doing long-term damage.  Damage that will result in an increase in addiction, depression, suicidal ideation, nightmares, anxiety, irritability, anger, difficulties forming close bonds with others and general feelings of isolation are a few of the symptoms documented.

Abuse is like that.  It has long tentacles, reaching out over decades and even entire lives, causing those who have been victimized to respond to others who wish them no harm, as though they were.

There is no easy answer, but if there is a single word that can be used, which will certainly not do more harm, it is love.  I know it sounds trite, too simple and clichéd, but  I believe it is the only answer.  As Emma wrote recently after reading a New York Times article about the ongoing fight for control of a vital highway in Afghanistan, “War is useless for making peace.”  Love has always been the answer.  Even if others cannot hear it, cannot believe it, cannot feel it, those of us who can, must be even more determined and vigilant.  Love.  Embracing those who are in pain, embracing those who are hurting, even and especially when they strike out.  And while we do that, we must protect ourselves and those who need our protection from any who are intent on hurting us with strong boundaries and the help and protection of others.  It’s a tricky balancing act and definitely something I am working on, but I am confident it can be done.



30 responses to “The Result of Trauma

  1. I have gotten very few negative comments on my blog, but my reasoning follows yours. I cannot publish or retain negative comments, but I can send forth love and positivity. The world needs more kindness, acceptance, and forgiveness. Never waver in putting it our there. ❤

    • I cannot believe ANYONE would ever leave a negative comment on your blog! Your blog is so full of love, warmth and gentleness, combined with your art work, which as you know, I so love and appreciate, it is an example of loving kindness!! XX

  2. I know from my wife how the effects of abuse and PTSD persist over years, even a lifetime. It can be impossible for somebody to move on after these kind of experiences, but treating them with love, patience and compassion helps by providing a safe environment. Over time trust can slowly grow, building up feelings of security. I can’t say that it will cure the flashbacks or nightmares, or that it will not be incredibly stressful and painful at times, but bonds forged through love are strong and healing. Love to you, Emma and all your family. ❤

  3. Kind of glad my reach is small sometimes…ppl like yourself and Jess and all the actively followed autistic bloggers who reach a wide audience are going to run into that more often…and its unfair especially to the autistic ppl who are braving it to help parents like us understand 😦 I have managed to offend unknowingly im sure…in fact i know I have (mostly over my autism speaks objections) but the ppl who deliberately do so boggle my mind (not speaking of your misunderstanding but of bullies ive seen online)

    • We live in a society where bullying is endemic. That’s a lot of trauma for a huge number of people. It’s no wonder misunderstandings and intentions are mistaken so often. It does make me sad though…

  4. Very well-written post, with insightful analysis of human behavior. I surely learnt a lot by reading this post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I also like the last paragraph and the picture therein highlighting the significance of love. The Beatles have said it most appropriately in their song:
    “Nothing you can know that isn’t known.
    Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
    Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
    It’s easy.

    Nothing you can know that isn’t known.
    Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
    Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
    It’s easy.

    All you need is love.”

  5. THANK YOU. I have been thinking so much about this as I – someone with ptsd, someone spectrum-y, someone with two children with differences – deal with more traffic to my site. Your wise words will help. LOVE!!!!

  6. Thank you for writing this post. So much truth is here. Not many get PTSD and what causes it or how they can inadvertently re traumatize someone. You can do a lot of damage to someone if your not careful. That’s why it’s important not to be hurtful when we speak. Some people are very snippy or rude and it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m so sorry someone has attacked Richard and you. That’s not nice at all. I’m glad you blocked them. Some people are cruel. It’s hard to protect ourselves and still allow our self the delight of new experiences. Keep pressing on. Much love and respect.

    • Retraumatizing someone without meaning to, is one of the worst feelings, knowing that anything you say to try and explain why their interpretation of your words is inaccurate will only add to their trauma. It does make me incredibly sad as there seems to be no way out of the negative/hurtful cycle.
      Thanks for your comment. It’s always good to hear from you!

  7. Thank you so much for writing this. I am so sorry that anyone wrote anything negative towards you. I think you touched on such an important issue. I was not dx as autistic until adulthood and had a very traumatic childhood. I have PTSD and have trouble not being hyper vigilant and protective of myself and others. But you are right about making sure not to see everything through a certain lens. I especially related to what you said about feeling like you deserve it if you were raised that way. Thank you for all the wisdom you and Emma share. She is absolutely right about the love part.

  8. i love your blog! i adore your Emma. Keep doing what you do 🙂

  9. LOVE to you all ❤

  10. It is interesting to see how many of us have been through that sort of trauma. I was bullied as a child, and yes, am very hypervigilant about signs of it with my own kids. Any time my younger son gets weird about going to school, I can feel that clenching fear that someone might be doing something to him.
    Recently, a hs friend “outed” her bullies on social media, saying that it was ok, because it was unlikely these other women would see it on her feed. It felt so strange to me to think of doing that, though, even with everything that happened at that stage of life. I privately told her that one of the people she was bashing, was someone I knew to have changed drastically since then – but it didn’t seem to matter. There was still so much anger in my friend’s heart about it.
    Personally, this isn’t the way I’d ever want to function. I forgave the kids who inflicted harm on me long ago – because I realized that they were often in pain themselves. Anger was once a bedfellow, I won’t deny that, but since then, it’s become obvious that love is the only thing that gets you through life.
    And it’s far too easy to empty anger and rage through the auspices of social media – by now, I’ve pretty well pledged not to debate any more, to be cautious about offering opinions, never to engage in any way that isn’t thoughtful. These are rules I can see having to teach my kids as well, but I wonder what this landscape will look like when they’re adults….

    • While I agree with much of what you say about forgiveness — and know that forgiveness is most necessary for the VICTIM’s peace of mind — I think you are overlooking the role of power in this. Many of us with PTSD have been victimized not by peers but by parents or by adults with power over us as children. Also, very, very importantly, especially for those of us on the spectrum with a hard time setting boundaries (something I, for example, just learned…at 44!!!) forgiveness does NOT mean continued acceptance of further behavior or even having an ongoing relationship! Finally, yes, this changing landscape is something we have to teach our kids about even if we ourselves are a bit “behind” – and it will continue to evolve – whew!

      • I did leave out the aspect of bullying where adults were largely the instigators – not sure why – but you’re right, that’s harder to forgive. Maybe I didn’t think of putting it here because I’m still not sure how I feel about that particular aspect of things. Teachers were definitely the people who caused the most harm, not just to me, but anyone who didn’t fit the “norm” -like a teacher who made truly offensive comments about a classmate’s hearing aids in front of the whole class – and I was regularly “on the carpet” to be laughed at and whatnot.
        Power has got to be one of the most potentially unpleasant commodities that exist in our world – I was just doing a meeting with my son’s sped teacher today, trying to get her head around the idea that he needs to be granted the notion of presumed competence, and could feel the sense of shrinking back to being a fifth grader – “she’s got all this experience, why would she listen to me?” so yes, I apologize, I didn’t let full expression give the proper picture there….

  11. Another great post and sorry to hear you were confronted with that. I agree on love being the most valid answer to anger and distorted views that are the result from suffered abuse, but I am glad you mention that those it is aimed at can also chose to protect themselves. Too many can be torn into abusive and violent relationships because they understand the person’s emotional motivations. No one is helped in the end if boundaries are not set and respected.

  12. Emma is a most profound young lady. Her pointing out that, “war is useless for making peace” is going to be resonating with me for a very long time. I have never understood how violence can ever bring about peace or an atmosphere of love, understanding and compassion. Thank you Emma.

  13. I have not been attacked on my blog yet but I have had hate filled rants on my Facebook page. Your post shows care and empathy to yourself, your readers, and the person with hateful comments. Thank you, I always learn from reading your words and Emma’s.

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