A note on the topic of trauma that I personally found helpful in accepting the idea that I am a trauma victim is that one of the most widely accepted facts in the field of trauma research is that abuse is often not the common factor in whether somebody will develop ptsd.
Many people can go through awful things without developing trauma based disorders as long as they receive compassion and support in processing those events as they happen. The most common factor in developing something like ptsd is emotional neglect. And emotional neglect on it’s own can be enough.
Whatever you went through was enough I promise, you’re not overreacting. Abuse and neglect are traumatic at any level, you don’t need to have gone through the worst possible experience you can think of to develop ptsd. If it hurt you then it hurt you.
And to support that, the number one determining factor on how badly something affects a person is how they’re treated afterward, not how objectively bad the event was. They’re called resiliency factors.
It looks like this:
Horrible brutal traumatic event + Family and community support + legal amelioration + closure and therapy and help
ONE MILLION TIMES MORE LIKELY TO RECOVER THAN
Event that the sufferer may think “seems minor” compared to what others have been through + Family neglect and abuse (you deserved it, name calling, support the abuser) + no legal means + denial and stifling and no therapeutic support
I have been raped, I have been abused by someone who was supposed to be family to me, and I have recovered and gotten my life back together. I have psychiatrists, psychologists, best friends, lovers, and family who support me. I did not get legal justice, but I got the person(s) out of my life.
My friend was repeatedly verbally abused by his step-parent, and when he was abused and hurt by others he was blamed for it by that parent. He had no support and no one to talk to about it for over 10 years.
He still feels guilty for even being affected by it and I’ve had long talks with him about how it isn’t “nothing compared to” what I went through.
You are not wrong to be upset. You are not wrong to feel the effects of trauma. Your hurt cannot be measured against anyone else’s. Your resiliency is your own and your situation is valid to you. Perception is everything. The worst thing that ever happened to you might ostensibly be less bad than the worst thing that ever happened to me – but it still is what happened to YOU.
Trauma is so predictable that we can make tidy little equations out of it. The ones above are good, but the ones I’ve seen are a little simpler. Something like:
Overwhelming Experience + Isolation + Shame = PTSD
Whoa. I am going to have to think about this for a bit–it would explain the HUGE difference in two post-trauma experiences I’ve had (one without support and one with.) Wow.