Therapeutic Center for Anxiety and Trauma

Therapeutic Center for Anxiety and Trauma

Individual and Family Therapy

Now with 2 locations to serve you in San Diego county.

Sometimes life throws us a curve-ball that we just didn't expect.  Whatever the curve-ball is, either large or small, it is common to cause anxiety, even if it is something exciting.  If your curve-ball is something that isn't so exciting, maybe you feel traumatized.  This can happen for any situation that causes disruption to your daily routine, your thinking and ultimately your ability to function at your full potential.  Whatever your anxiety or trauma is about, we can help!  We are a team of therapists that work extensively with anxiety provoking issues.  These could be about relationships, life events, or any negative experience that is holding you back.  If you are struggling with moving past a traumatic incident, or finding it difficult to overcome anxiety of any sort, please contact us.  We will have one of our experienced therapists contact you as soon as possible.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Intimate Partner Violence: How YOU Can Break the Cycle of Violence, By Lauren Reminger, Associate MFT, MA

Warning: This article contains subject matter pertaining to domestic violence, school shootings, trauma, suicide, as well as language that may be disturbing to some readers. 

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Photo Source: (Intimate Partner Violence Survey, 2018)

A woman stands in the kitchen, preparing the evening meal for her family, though they do not have much food. The family’s income has been cut by half due to her partner losing his job, but this does not change the fact that her three children need to eat. She desperately searches the kitchen to find how she can make a meal out of the very few items they have available. She begins preparing food, knowing it will not be enough to fill the bellies of her already starving children, yet she does her best. Suddenly, the front door flies open and the children (twelve, seven and three) scurry to the one back bedroom the family shares. The man towering in the door frame smells of cheap liquor and cigarettes and begins his stumble towards the kitchen. He greets his partner with drunken disapproval, his unsteady motions cause the hot plate on the stove to drop to the kitchen floor. His partner stiffens, knowing what will come next. Her face is met with a painful blow, and her partner screams “WHY THE FUCK DID YOU DO THAT? HOW FUCKING STUPID CAN YOU BE?!?” The children stay quiet. Watching and listening to their mother taking an excruciating beating, knowing their involvement could result in further harm. The woman is pushed to the ground, as she has been a thousand times before. She takes it, out of knowledge that if she doesn’t let it happen, it may result in him beating and demeaning the children. Tonight, she doesn’t show the fear, she is numb to the physical and emotional pain that she has known for so long and too tired and hungry to fight back. This infuriates the man. Does he no longer have the power he so desperately needs when everything else within his life is spinning out of control? He advances to the hallway closet with fury in his eyes, and determination in his movement. He retrieves his gun, makes his way back to his cowering wife and presses it against the woman’s temple. The children peak through the crack of the door, fearing for their mother’s safety and forcing back tears. The toddler begins to whimper, shifting the attention of the father from his partner to the doorway of the bedroom. The father lunges toward the bedroom door and grabs the toddler by the hair pulling her into the living room where the mother lay in fear. The man in his drunken rage holds a gun with the safety off in one hand and a tiny child’s curly hair in the other. The father sticks the gun to the child’s head and threatens that if anyone says a word, he will “blow her fucking brains out”. The mother nods accepting the terms as silent tears stream down her face. The father releases the child’s locks from his grip and lowers the gun. He ushers the woman into the room to have his way as the children huddle in a corner of the living room around their youngest sibling. They can’t sleep tonight, like most nights, and sit in silence as they await another day.

Violence within homes does not stay there, it carries into our communities. The combination of circumstances above is a work of fiction; however, every detail is based in the truth that is happening within your community, right now. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV, previously referred to as Domestic Violence) is present not only in marriages and households with children like narrative above, but also crosses lines of sex, gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic status and culture. According to the Childhood Domestic Violence Association, in the United States alone 5 million children witness IPV each year and 40 million adults grew up in households with IPV (2016). With such a prominent number of adults and children facing this issue within our country, why isn’t it talked about more?

Potential Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Communities and Our Society

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Photo Source: (Power and Control Wheel, 2018)

Take the illustration above as an example, the biggest question asked by many is: why doesn’t she just leave? Well it isn’t as simple as it may seem. Often abusive partners will psychologically break down their counterpart slowly by creating distance and isolation from friends and family, utilizing financial abuse and using children as means to make their partner fear leaving. The children who witness IPV within their homes, often meet criteria for Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), are six times more likely to commit suicide, 74% more likely to commit violent crimes against others, and three times more likely to repeat the cycle of violence within adulthood (Childhood Domestic Violence Association, 2016). Therefore, IPV is not merely an issue within households, but an issue that affects our communities and ultimately society.

With the increase we have seen in school shootings in recent news, bringing to light the issue is extremely important as IPV is a major contributing factor. Bullying and school violence can be an indication that children have witnessed IPV and are simply modeling behavior they have seen at home. With early intervention and support from mental health professionals and community members alike, we can decrease these instances of violence and ultimately SAVE LIVES. We often stigmatize seeking help and support from professionals, making survivors less likely to seek outside help. Combine that with the fear of potential consequences from their abusive partner, and the lack of understanding from the community, and the cycle continues.

Can you remember a time when something said to you stuck and meant something? If one small sentiment can change the way we think or act over time, think of what your contribution of kindness, advocacy and support can do to the many people experiencing IPV every day. You may not think you know anyone experiencing this, but it is extremely likely that you and/or your children know many people experiencing this. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (2010). However, IPV is often kept a secret due to the amount of fear and potential consequences of this violence coming to light, as illustrated above. You can do your part by encouraging individuals to seek professional assistance, knowing the signs, and supporting your fellow community members with kindness. You do not have to personally experience this kind of violence, or even understand why it happens, to show support to your community. Together, and only together, we can create a healthier community and break the cycle of violence.

Please share this article and the resources it offers, because you never know who it may benefit. There is a way to end the cycle of violence, and my challenge to you is to BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION. Need more information on how you can be an ally to survivors or resources? Please contact me, and I would be happy to assist. 

If you or someone you know is currently experiencing domestic violence there are resources available to you. Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline Support, resources and advice for your safety 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 24/7, 365 days a year. Bilingual advocates on hand. 

The author, Lauren Reminger, is a domestic violence survivor and an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, AMF95143; Supervised by Naomi Cooper Martin MFC48304. Lauren specializes the treatments of trauma, like those described above, and is currently accepting new clients in Escondido at the Therapeutic Center for Anxiety and Trauma. Please call (760) 237-8181 for an appointment or questions. Lauren can also assist survivors in building personalized safety plans and providing resources for any stage in the process. You can also view her website LaurenRemingerCounseling.com for additional resources and information.

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, August 22). Intimate Partner Violence. 

Retrieved from 

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/index.html

Childhood Domestic Violence Association. (2016, August 22). 10 Startling Statistics about Children of Domestic Violence. Retrieved April 15, 2018, from 

https://cdv.org/2014/02/10-startling-domestic-violence-statistics-for-children/

Intimate Partner Violence Survey. (2018, February 02). Retrieved April 15, 2018, from 

https://www.sociology.org/intimate-partner-violence-survey/

Power and Control Wheel. (2018). Retrieved April 15, 2018, from

http://coburnplace.org/power-and-control-wheel/

Self-Care is for Every Day, by Kayla Walker, LMFT

"Self-care is not selfish.
You cannot serve from an empty vessel." - Eleanor Brownn

I have a confession to make: I struggle with self-care. It’s ironic really, since the importance of self-care is one of the first things I usually talk with my clients about. I even use the “fuel in the car” metaphor: you know, “Life is like a road trip, and you (your body, your life) are the car. You can’t keep going without fuel. Self care is the fuel. You have to regularly refuel yourself to keep going in life.”

And all of that is true, of course. I know it, and I believe it — truly, I do. It’s just that with so many things on my plate, juggling multiple roles and responsibilities throughout the day, carving out time to focus on myself just seems so...minor, tedious and relatively unimportant, yet somehow overwhelming at the same time. You see, at the end of a long day of managing toddler meltdowns, potty training, nursing, laundry, making multiple meals (for the toddler), and trying to stay on top of work emails, all I really want to do is tune out and turn off. I’ll just binge watch Friends and pass out on the couch, thank you very much.

Most of us are aware that chronic stress can have negative long-term effects on our health. While it’s easy to point to high-pressure, high-stress situations as the source of chronic stress; far more often, chronic stress stems from lots of smaller stressors built up over a longer period of time. These smaller stressors may fly under the radar as simple day-to-day problems, but the physiological responses they produce are the same as in any high-stress situation: blood pressure increases, breathing becomes more rapid, digestive system shuts down, and our bodies get boosts of adrenaline that keep us alert and ready to respond to whatever comes our way. These fight-or-flight responses are designed to help us deal with short bursts of high stress, but living in this fight-or-flight mode day after day can do lasting harm to your body and your mind. Self-care is critical to helping us manage everyday stressors and preventing the build up of chronic stress.

But the thing is, my Friends-induced couch coma isn't really self-care; its numbing. Numbing is about avoidance; it feels great to turn off the exhaustion and tune out the mind racing over the million things I need to do tomorrow. It even feels like self-care sometimes, because it stops the flood of stress I feel after a hectic day. But it’s not self-care because it’s not refueling. Binge-watching Netflix and passing out on the couch doesn’t help me feel like myself again. It doesn’t inspire me or energize me or help me burn off excess stress hormones. It may numb the stress I’ve felt all day, but it also numbs any positive feelings I may have been able to reflect on or enjoy at the end of the day. It doesn’t really relieve the stress; it just sets it aside to be picked up again tomorrow. And that stress that gets set aside and picked up again and again day after day begins to build into a powder keg of stress and pressure ready to explode. And then, (if I may use the car metaphor again), your car isn’t just out of fuel. It’s on fire. Its important to find activities that actually re-energize you, restore you, or allow you to burn off the stress of the day, rather than just numb it out.

Two things that regularly come up when I talk to clients about self care are:

1) The last thing I need is to add one more thing to my day.
2) What if I don’t know what relaxes or refuels me?

Honestly, these two things are my biggest challenges as well. But the good news is that self-care doesn’t have to be some elaborate plan, and it doesn’t have to take much effort. It starts with identifying activities that refuel you, that help you feel relaxed or soothed or give you energy or life. True self care can be as simple as listening to music you enjoy or wearing your favorite comfy socks or sweater. You don’t have to diffuse the perfect essential oil blend (unless you’re into that sort of thing); any scented candle you enjoy can be relaxing. And going for a brisk walk outside can be just as stress-relieving as a full-on gym workout. The point is to keep it simple, keep it do-able, so you’re more likely to actually do it. Just start with a simple activity that seems do-able and try it for a week. If, at the end of the week, you don’t feel better, try something else. Keep trying new things each week until you find something that works for you.

So, in this new year I’m making a renewed commitment to self-care. Won’t you join me? This week, I’ll be dancing to 80s music in my living room. What will you choose?

Need help finding a self care activity? Here are some more ideas:

  • Go out in the sun and notice its warmth on your skin.

  • Take a warm bath.

  • Cuddle with a pet.

  • Sit outside and listen to nature.

  • Go for a hike.

  • Visit a museum or tourist attraction.

  • Try a new restaurant.

  • Make art.

  • Do a craft project.

  • Go for a drive.

  • Work on a puzzle.

  • Meditate.

  • Pray.

  • Read poetry.

  • List things for which you are grateful.

  • Journal your feelings.

  • Allow yourself to cry.

  • Do something that makes you laugh.

  • Try yoga.

  • Dance around your living room.

  • Stretch.

  • Take a nap

  • Call or hang out with a friend.

  • Join a support group.

  • See a therapist. 

The author, Kayla Walker, is currently accepting new clients in our Banker's Hill location and can
be reached by calling 619-272-6858 x708 or emailing kayla@anxietytraumatherapy.com