Long-term Residential Treatment for Complex PTSD Stemming from Emotional Abuse

Even after the emotional abuse ends, the effects of traumatization can follow someone throughout their life—until they get help to heal the wounds of abuse and post-traumatic stress. Unfortunately, some struggle to overcome the barriers to treatment for complex PTSD. But when people do begin a course of comprehensive treatment, especially residential treatment for C-PTSD, the effects of healing transformation can give them back the life they’ve been missing.

Emotional abuse is a trap of fear and shame and betrayal, one that can shake one’s very understanding of their personal and social reality.

It can be crippling on so many different levels: the abuse may actually be separating the individual from other connections and sources of potential support, pervasively distorting their self-perception and possibilities of escape from the abuse, and provoking experiences of dissociation from themselves and their reality so they are less capable of feeling grounded and independent.

Emotional abuse can escalate without intervention, but even without the addition of physical abuse, the distress is devastating and life-altering. In fact, even long after the emotional abuse takes place, a person can experience the traumatic effects and be prevented from living the life they really want.

One of the important challenges ahead is how to connect people who are in the grips of emotional abuse or the resulting trauma with the treatment they need in order to reclaim their lives. Because of the scope of relational trauma involved, a welcoming community-oriented residential treatment center is the best opportunity for progressive and holistic healing for those with complex PTSD stemming from emotional abuse. Here, clients can learn to relate to themselves and others in new and positive ways.

What Are the Barriers to Treatment for Complex PTSD Following Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse itself can be hard to identify from the outside—or, at least, it can be harder to identify than physical abuse that leaves physical evidence. Emotional abuse can also be easier to minimize and easier to dismiss. But the impact of this abuse is very real and can last for years or even decades after the direct experience of trauma. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or C-PTSD, is the result of a severe and persistent trauma of some kind, including emotional abuse. It can involve physical, psychological, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that significantly impact one’s life. Without compassionate intervention and comprehensive treatment, this disorder can continue to weigh heavily on a person and influence various co-occurring disorders.

But there are significant barriers to treatment for so many people with complex PTSD and emotional abuse trauma. Some of the symptoms of C-PTSD, such as pessimism, withdrawal, numbness, self-destructive behaviors, and feeling overwhelmed by flashbacks and reminders of the trauma, make reaching out for help difficult and unlikely. Someone with complex PTSD related to emotional abuse may withdraw because the symptoms and reminders of the trauma are so great. In order to heal the trauma, someone with C-PTSD has to approach and heal it. This can manifest as a barrier to treatment because the individual might rather avoid than address the trauma. People with complex PTSD may also feel worthless because someone close treated them as if they were worthless. Hence, they may not feel as if they deserve the kindness and attention of a treatment care team. They may hide their symptoms and their pain from others, perpetuating their isolation and suffering.

C-PTSD should not be a source of shame. It is a sign that there are emotional and psychological wounds in need of healing. It is a responsibility we all share to take the power out of the stigma and to treat mental health and healing seriously and compassionately. If you have a loved one with a history of emotional abuse whose life and relationships have been significantly affected by the trauma, you can help them to have compassion for their own pain and stress and to get the help that can turn their lives around again.

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Why Is a Residential Treatment Center the Best Option for C-PTSD and Emotional Abuse Trauma?

Whereas complex PTSD can overcome a person’s entire life, sense of self, and ability to relate to others, it’s also very treatable. The barriers to treatment are very real but do not outweigh the benefits of recovering one’s life and hope and vibrancy. Often, the first step is reaching out for help from a professional who knows an effective course of care, even if you are reaching out on behalf of a loved one who may not be actively seeking treatment for themselves.

As much as they might be tempted to try, someone with complex post-traumatic stress disorder can’t heal alone. Many people find themselves alone, even when in company, because of the isolating symptoms of the disorder. But as a form of relational trauma, C-PTSD following emotional abuse calls for healing the connections within oneself as well as the ability to develop relationships with others. Guided therapy is critical, and a comprehensive treatment center will commit to designing the treatment care plans that are right for each individual, including the combination of trauma-focused therapies, holistic and experiential therapies, group therapy with peers in recovery, family and relational therapies, and medication if appropriate.

Residential treatment takes a person away from the aggressor if abuse is still occurring. If the emotional abuse is in the past, entering an inpatient treatment setting leaves some of the triggers for retraumatization behind, giving the person a welcoming, safe space to reorient around self-love and care and a positive approach to the future. While it can be difficult to open up and trust another with personal details, let alone revisit the trauma, in a long-term treatment setting, someone with C-PTSD can take time to settle into therapy relationships. Experts in treating trauma disorders know that clients need time and compassionate space to heal traumatic emotional and thought patterns.

For complex PTSD to develop with emotional abuse, someone’s psyche is maladaptively transformed in response to pervasive trauma over an extended period of time. In response, it takes time and patience to transform their mental health once again in a progressive direction. Not only can clients gently approach their complex experiences of trauma, but they can also practice life skills, social skills, and strategies for managing stress once they begin to reintegrate with life following treatment. A long-term treatment program allows them to heal from the inside out as they reconnect with their hopes and desires for life that may have long been dormant under the weight of complex PTSD.

If you’re concerned about a loved one and believe they may need residential care, we can help. BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with complex mental health illnesses and co-occurring disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.