Unresolved trauma can not only have an impact on the survivor, but also on their relationships and those around them.
The Negative Impact

Whether the trauma was physical, sexual, or emotional, trauma survivors can experience an array of symptoms which can cause issues within a relationship. They can appear ‘cold’ or withdrawn both physically and mentally, experience heightened emotions to common events, have negative thoughts, or have difficulty accepting love and support from family. Other symptoms can include:

  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Lack of sexual intimacy
  • Struggle to form close relationships
  • Suffer insomnia or nightmares
  • Difficulty concentrating

When a trauma survivor is in denial, those around them can feel frustrated, or feel a sense of helplessness. Especially if the individual does not seek support. This can sometimes be because the individual has disassociated from the event that caused the trauma. This is where the individual denies part, or all of the event. Do not pressure them to speak about the event but remind them that you are there, should their need to talk.

If the trauma survivor is suffering from depression, everyday tasks can become difficult to complete. Getting dressed, cooking meals, or simply leaving the house can be a struggle. Partners or family members may feel the burden of completing those tasks and become a sort of care giver to the individual. Breaking tasks down into smaller one’s and providing the opportunity for the individual to help in a different way, may ease the burden for all involved.  

The trauma survivor may lack sexual intimacy causing the partner to feel unworthy and unloved. Remember not to take the symptoms of unresolved trauma personal. Communication is key in understanding what your partner is comfortable with.

The trauma survivor may lack the ability to form close relationships with family members. This can cause a sense of coldness or feeling of unloved. Find alternative ways of forming and strengthening relationships, like shared interests.

The trauma survivor can suffer from insomnia or nightmares causing issues with sleep patterns amongst the household. Lack of sleep amongst partners and family members can make emotions more difficult to express. The individual may benefit from medication prescribed by their GP.
Trauma survivors may also have difficulty concentrating which can have an impact on their ability to undertake work, hold conversations or even complete household chores. There are strategies available like listening to music, trying meditation, or adapting routines which can help.


Trauma in Children

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Children can also suffer from unresolved trauma. The symptoms can display differently to adults. Children may wet the bed or become clingy out of fear of being alone. Children may also feel helpless and blame themselves for what happened. But similarly, to adults, children can also suffer from sleep disorders. Providing a safe environment for the child to approach you and providing the child reassurance that they are not alone, can help in reducing the child’s anxiety.


Communication Tips

Communication can play a vital role in building up a close relationship with a trauma survivor. Understanding how to communicate effectively can provide a safe environment for you and the survivor to express themselves and in turn find common ground for solutions or next steps. For example, “I hate it when…” can feel negative. Instead, the phrase “I wonder if…” can come across more positively and provide a safe ground for discussions.

None verbal communication can also be vital. None verbal communication relates to any form of body language: fidgeting, biting nails, not making eye contact, crossed arms. Recognising the body language of a trauma survivor can help raise awareness of when things are escalating or even what triggers them. One way of de-escalating the situation is to remind the trauma survivor that there are in a safe place with loved ones to support them.


Seeking Support for Trauma


Recovering from trauma differs from individual to individual. If you or a family member has been suffering for some time and you feel that your symptoms are unmanageable, then please seek support. I offer professional and confidential therapy in a safe environment for your issues and experiences to be understood and accepted.

Call me today to book your first session on 07305 920 437