We know that women are more likely to experience some forms of trauma than their male counterparts. Women are more likely than men to experience sexual abuse at all ages, in fact, the most common trauma for women to experience is sexual assault or child sexual abuse (according to the National Center for PTSD) About 1 in 3 women will experience some kind of sexual assault in their lifetime.
These statistics are shocking, sobering, and scary. The effects of sexual abuse can continue for years on a woman’s internal world, her confidence, her feelings about her body, and her relationships.
Another form of trauma that women are particularly vulnerable to is domestic violence and abusive relationships. According to the Violence Policy Center, women also represent 85% of those involved in intimate partner violence. It’s difficult to estimate the number of women who experience emotional and verbal abuse in their relationships, but the effects of these kinds of abuse are often as painful as physical wounds. The nuances of abusive relationships can be subtle and very confusing. Women may feel trapped by finances, the demands of caring for children, physical intimidation, or fear of what may happen if they leave. These are all incredibly valid.
We know women are often in the most danger when they try to leave an abusive relationship. Another confusing aspect of abusive relationships is the genuine remorse many abusive partners demonstrate after an abusive incident. While the remorse of an abusive partner may be very real, it often traps women in a never-ending cycle. I’ve seen it many times in my office, it’s so hard to tell when change is real and when it’s simply the prelude to another cycle of violence.
Traumatic events and abusive relationships can be devastating and may lead to an increase in symptoms such as anxiety, depression, flashbacks, fear, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, insomnia or nightmares, or emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts. These are just a few ways trauma can and does affect women. While healing can also come in many ways, counseling can be an integral part of recovering from the effects of trauma.
In this blog, we’ve talked about two major sources of trauma for women; sexual abuse and domestic violence. Unfortunately, there are unending sources of trauma. I chose these two because they tend to disproportionately affect women but I want to fully recognize this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the kinds of trauma women may experience.
Regardless of what you’ve experienced, there’s a good chance working with a qualified and trauma-informed counselor may help. A counselor can help women affected by trauma process and resolve her feelings and symptoms as well as gain insight and hope for the future. If you’re interested in trauma counseling, please contact us.