When a family member experiences trauma, the aftermath can impact both the person who experienced the traumatic event, as well as family members and close friends. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stands out from other types of trauma in that it touches one on hormonal, biological and psychological levels that can last for months, years and even for a lifetime. According to the American Psychiatric Association, one in 11 people will get a PTSD diagnosis in their lifetime, and women are twice as likely to get this diagnosis than men. This data was released pre-COVID, so these numbers are expected to increase significantly.
Typically, family trauma related PTSD is the result of an act of violence, a sexual violation, a life-threatening accident (including natural disasters), substance abuse, and even family scapegoat PTSD can be a problem worthy of treatment. In addition, family trauma can stem from cultural differences, including religious differences. For example, an atheist in a family of Catholics might be regarded as a “black sheep in the family”, and treated as the scapegoat for all arising conflicts–something that can cause severe trauma for the person being targeted, as well as onlooking family members and those doing the finger-pointing.
Family trauma can come from a plethora of places. In some instances people aren’t even aware of the roots until they enter family therapy for PTSD from a trauma healing center in Malibu, or anywhere that offers help within a tranquil setting by licensed, caring therapists. Serenity Trauma offers evidence-based therapies for patients aged 15 and older by qualified healthcare professionals
Treating Family Scapegoat PTSD
Toxic family dynamics can create complex forms of PTSD that warrant family trauma therapy. In many cases family members will resort to making a scapegoat of another family member to avoid dealing with their own trauma and emotional turmoil. In many cases it begins with one individual and spreads throughout the family so that multiple members are affected by the toxic behavior leaving the victim even more isolated and feeling helpless.
When family scapegoat PTSD forms victims can resort to alcohol, illegal prescription drugs, narcotics, or engage in violent and criminal behavior. When relatives come as a group to Serenity Trauma, customized outpatient programs will pinpoint the trauma and any mental health disorders that may be causing underlying issues while treating all individuals with specific goals in place. In many cases family members don’t know how to support the person being targeted, nor do people know how to deal with many of life’s common occurrences after a traumatic incident has occured so they lash out at someone closest to them. Family scapegoat PTSD is a devastating illness that can be successfully treated with willing participants. Therapy sessions are designed to bring family members together and channel all of the struggles each person is dealing with to the surface in a safe, controlled environment. In many cases family members don’t know how to assist one another. Despite their best intentions, they can be acting out in a counterproductive manner that only widens the gap between loved ones and causes feelings of helplessness. At Serenity Trauma programs designed to treat family scapegoat PTSD cases give individuals the coping skills and tools they need to support both the family and the self all while carving out a more loving and supportive chapter in the family’s narrative.
Family Sexual Abuse PTSD
Sexual abuse doesnlt always lead to PTSD, but it can, and when the offender is a trusted family member, the chances of the trauma spiraling into a post traumatic stress disorder diagnosis are significantly higher. Family sexual abuse PTSD usually stems from two primary sources: (1) one person within the family has performed a sexual crime on another (victims can be children or adults), and (2) accusations are made of sexual abuse that never happened, but the charge was enough to damage family dynamics and cause PTSD.
Incest PTSD can impact those directly involved, as well as other family members. Victims of incest tend to have a general mistrust of others and working with a therapists who understands the psychological and interpersonal aspect of the abused is critical to treatment.
Based on the dynamics, each family sexual abuse case will bring entirely different needs to initiate healing. For example, sexual abuse commited by a parent or parental family figure is usually associated with severe psychological symptoms, along with physical injuries the survivor must handle.
With a focus on betrayal trauma, dissociation and complex trauma, our healers are able to help families work through some very sensitive, painful events surrounding incest or family sexual abuse, and bridge that gap where feelings of being estranged can begin to heal. Many victims of incest or family sexual abuse report being ostracized by the family, and many have reported being shamed by one or both parents, as well as siblings. Victims (and even other members of the family) can experience low self-esteem, thoughts of suicide, pervasive interpersonal difficulties and feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, shame and contamination.
Another extremely damaging result of family sexaul abuse is when survivors incorporate the abhorrent views of the abuser about the relationship or act, and as a result, the victim frequently associates the abuse with a colored form of affection and caring that can later have devastating influences on romantic relationships that should be healthy. Unfortunately, this can lead one into abusive relationships and severely cripple their ability to lead a happy life.
Serenity Trauma offers innovative therapies focusing on PTSD and family support within the framework of sexual abuse cases.
Trauma Caused to Family of Drug Addicts
When an individual suffers from a substance use disorder (SUD), the effects are felt by the entire family, and as a result, therapy for PTSD can be warranted. Post traumatic stress disorder can form when someone is forced to watch a loved one inflict severe harm on themselves. In some cases, addicts are slowly killing themselves, in other cases the addiction causes them to spiral out of control to the point they lose their job, damage romantic relationships beyond repair, neglect dependents, and abandon all forms of self care. When family members are forced to watch a loved one destroy themselves they are living on high alert, which is stressful and causes severe trauma. Often, a knock on the door will strike fear that the police are there to notify the family their loved one is dead, or the phone ringing could be a call from the hospital or prison. In some cases, simply hearing a siren can cause one’s heart to race, as they can easily imagine their loved one being rushed to the ER in an unresponsive state.
PTSD and Drug Addiction Brings Family Trauma
Often, PTSD and drug addiction go hand-in-hand within family circles. When a loved one regularly abuses drugs or alcohol, other family members live on the edge in constant fear that when the addict leaves home, it could be the last time he or she is seen again. Struggling on a daily basis with the anxiety and trauma caused by a loved one’s addiction to drugs or alcohol is sadly a common theme within PTSD and drug addiction. In some cases, parents with children addicted to drugs will lose contact with them, and in other cases, parents with drug addictions will lose custody of their children. Both scenarios can beckon suffocating guilt on both sides.
Serenity Trauma provides therapy for those with PTSD involving addiction within their family circle. Family context usually holds insight into how substance abuse develops and maintains. Therapists can then determine what will negatively and positively influence therapy for PTSD, and any other types of therapies that may be required. Attachment theory and family systems theory are models that provide a platform for understanding how the addiction impacts each member of the family. Furthermore, identifying the current stage a family is in will help provide better treatment with the best-suited interventions. PTSD therapists will also work to identify behavioral and emotional patterns from family members that foster poor outcomes, and work to heal each individual who has been impacted by the bad decisions made by a loved one, while getting the family realigned to function as a healthy, loving unit capable of offering support to one another.