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Laura Russell, Ph.D., Archive  

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can men recover from sexual abuse trauma?

 

Q. He demeaned her constantly and did not allow her to have friends or dress in any way he felt was the least bit provocative. She is very attractive and his jealousy went as far as hiding microphones and hiring private detectives. In addition, he would sometimes send her flowers and then accuse her of having a boyfriend or a lover. Of course, the truth was that she was hardly capable of have any interpersonal relationships because he suppressed her growth in almost every way and she felt inferior to almost everyone she met. 

What long-term effects would this have on her

 

A. Pathological jealousy can create a situation like the one you described in which the victim is truly a hostage. The results of this are much more difficult for people not connected to the situation to understand, because they are subtle. 

Hostages have all the regular symptoms of PTSD: 

1. Reliving the trauma
2. Living as if the trauma still exists when it is over,
3. Avoiding anything that might trigger memories
4. Hyper arousal with physical anxiety type symptoms. 

Plus they have something described as identifying with their perpetrator. This involves developing a sense of sympathy for their perpetrator. Furthermore, hostages tend to see the world through their perpetrators pathology. This explains the extremes that many women, in particular, go through to protect their jealous, battering husband.

They also often develop something known as 'learned helplessness'. This is a circumstance where you can physically leave, but mentally and emotionally cannot. 

In my practice over the years, I have met some very admirable women who managed to leave anyway. They still needed quite a bit of therapy to undo the type of thinking that goes with being held hostage in a love relationship. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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