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Coping With Abuse

Healing the hurts – coping with abuse

The past cannot be changed; the childhood can no longer be ignored

Our lives are shaped by the past. By the things we’ve learned about people, about the world and the ways we’ve learned to relate to others.

But you can make a new decision and repair yourself, looking closely to the parts of your self that once were fragmented and left behind to be forgotten.

It is time to make your own decision and chose the life you want!
Psychotherapy can help you make contact with the fragmented self, reintegrating it as a part of yourself that can no longer be denied. This reintegration is a necessary step in the search for your own freedom.

We become free by transforming ourselves from unaware victims of the past into responsible individuals in the present, who are aware of our past and are thus able to live it most, Alice Miller.

Unfortunately most people are doing exactly the opposite. They avoid contacting the old memories, the painful ones, memories that have been repressed and then forgotten. People live their lives with huge memory gaps or complete absence of memory as if they’ve forgotten who they really have been. They tend to carry this vacuum in life that is manifested in various inexplicable behaviours and preferences, until the day when life becomes too empty or something in the present triggers the forgotten memory.

In an unconscious way people keep living the same fear from childhood throughout life, creating patterns of behaviour that they cannot understand or accept.

Our emotions cannot be avoided, denied or ignored for long. If they are not given a voice, they will find a way to manifest themselves.

Repressing the pain just makes it bigger and intolerable and the emotion will be manifested through the body as different forms of illness, such as asthma, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and even cancer can be an expression of repressed feelings.

Psychotherapy can help you re-establish contact with self, re-creating new kinds of relationships with others and with the world. This can be achieved within a reliable and safe therapeutic relationship, bringing to consciousness all the understanding and acceptance that has been missing.

Psychotherapy will help you access the emotions that have been repressed for so long. Making them conscious is not deadly but liberating.

It is through a therapeutic relationship that you will be able to express the anger, the fear and maybe the joy that you have never been allowed to express as a child. Through therapy you will have these emotions acknowledged and understood by an attuned and involved psychotherapist. Within the therapeutic relationship you will feel heard, accepted, understood and validated.

The adult victims of child abuse, by which I mean not only sexual abuse but physical and emotional abuse including neglect and abandonment, will keep looking throughout life for ways to have their basic needs met; the needs that their parents failed to satisfy. These people may be involved with drugs, alcohol, overeating, non-satisfying and abusing relationships, obsessive compulsive behaviours and other forms of emotional disturbances – always in search of the fulfillment of those unmet needs. Once they become parents they often demand these needs (the need to be loved, the need to be taken serious) to be fulfilled by their children.

As an example, the insecure woman who depends on her child’s obedience to be happy and peaceful. This child will learn to adapt very early in life to mother’s demands. Here is a child living with a huge fear of loosing mother’s love if he/she doesn’t behave in a certain way.

This pattern repeats through generations: insecure mother results in insecure baby. And one of the causes of emotional problems is the child’s early adaptation. The child’s basic needs have to be repressed in order to satisfy the mother’s needs. These children can never express their own emotions due to the fear of losing their mother’s love and as an adult they are unable to consciously experience certain feelings.

The therapeutic relationship will create an atmosphere in which you will be able to feel heard, seen, cared about, to feel important to a significant other person. It is through this unique relationship that you will be able to bring to awareness the repressed elements and get what is needed in your personal growth.

Dr Ruth Birkebaek Psychotherapist and counsellor

Dr Ruth Birkebaek is a Certified International Integrative Psychotherapist Trainer and Supervisor (CIIPTS-IIPA), a Certified Transactional Analyst (CTA and PTSTA), UKCP registered psychotherapist and a Medical Doctor. She offers training courses in psycotherapy and counselling 

She also offers therapy and counselling from her practice in Kew, Richmond upon Thames .
Psychotherapy sessions can also be online.

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