An experience of childhood trauma or abuse is at its core about being and feeling unsafe. A framework of physical, emotional and psychological safety is important to enable you to progress in your recovery. Most people who have been abused need to regain their sense of safety (Briere & Scott, 2006). Feeling safe is important wherever you are: at home, with friends and lovers, at work or play.
Enjoying safe relationships can be challenging for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse (Henderson, 2006). Spousal or partner abuse is often linked to childhood abuse (Henderson, 2006; Krause, Kaltman, Goodman, & Dutton, 2008; Ullman, Filipas, Townsend, & Starzynski, 2007). For those who grew up with abuse in the family or domestic violence it may be a familiar background to your lives. Survivors can find themselves in abusive relationships as adults.
The psychological or emotional impact of partner abuse on a survivor can be every bit as devastating as physical harm because it reinforces the sense of fear, threat and personal devaluation that the childhood abuse originally created. Such abuse may come in many forms: yelling, put-downs, swearing, hitting, forced sex (rape), being kept moneyless, not being allowed to be with friends, always being dominated and controlled by the other person (van Loon & Kralik, 2005c). If you are being subjected to any of these behaviours, we recommend that you seek professional help to enable you to deal with difficulties in your relationship and your current situation.