Audio 2: What Creates Fear and Trauma as seen in the Covid-19 Pandemic?
This is the second video in the series for Mental Health Awareness Week of which I will be creating videos everyday with regards to mental health and the pandemic. We are talking about all the elephants in the room.
Yesterday I talked about what types of trauma have been created over the past two years because of COVID-19, so today I am going to talk more in depth about specific types of abuse that create fear and Trauma. Please note that while we are talking specifically with regards to the pandemic effects, much of this topic could be triggering if you suddenly realize it is occurring or has occurred in other aspects of your life as well, so please be kind to yourself if you happen to realize this.
What creates fear and trauma? There are a few factors and I am going to discuss the varying types of abuse people have gone through with specific focus on the pandemic, however keep in mind that abuse can happen to anyone in any number of situations. Keep in mind the definition of abuse to hurt or injure by maltreatment.
There are 6 common types of abuse:
1) Physical: When someone harms your body against your will. This could look like being held down to be forced to get a PCR test or an injection
This is the most commonly known type of abuse and often how people think of the word abuse. It can include punching, hitting, slapping, kicking, strangling, or physically restraining a partner against their will. It can also include driving recklessly or invading someone’s physical space, and in any other way making someone feel physically unsafe.
2) Sexual: (This is very much a part of the pandemic in how they are grooming children as well as the global sex trafficking)
While sexual abuse can be a form of physical abuse, we put it in a category by itself because it can include both physical and non-physical components. It can involve rape or other forced sexual acts, or withholding or using sex as a weapon. An abusive partner might also use sex as a means to judge their partner and assign a value – in other words, criticizing or saying that someone isn’t good enough at sex, OR that sex is the only thing they’re good for. Because sex can be so loaded with emotional and cultural implications, there are any number of ways that the feelings around it can be uniquely used for power and control. It wasn’t until 1993 that marital rape was illegal in all 50 states, so some people may still assume that sex is something a partner is entitled to, and not recognize it as a larger pattern of power and control.
3) Psychological/Mental: (Media and government officials were a big contributor to psychological abuse by perpetuating lies and fear and pitting people against each other and moving goal posts like 2 weeks to slow the spread turned into 2 years)
Mental or psychological abuse happens when, through a series of actions or words, wears away at the other’s sense of mental wellbeing and health. It often involves making the victim doubt their own sanity. The result of this, especially over a sustained period of time – and often with the isolation that abusers also tend to use – is that the victim depends on the abuser more and more because they don’t trust their own judgment. They also hesitate to tell anyone what they’re experiencing, for fear they won’t be believed.
4) Financial/Economic: (Freezing bank accounts, inflation, taxation, fines, forcing you out of work, etc)
Because abuse is about power and control, an abuser will use any means necessary to maintain that control, and often that includes finances. Whether it is controlling all of the budgeting in the household and not letting the survivor have access to their own bank accounts or spending money, or opening credit cards and running up debts in the survivor’s name, or simply not letting the survivor have a job and earn their own money, this type of abuse is often a big reason why someone is unable to leave an abusive relationship. Many of the survivors we work with have problems with their credit, because of an abuser’s past behavior. A bad credit history can affect your ability to get an apartment, a job, a car loan, and any number of other things necessary for self-sufficiency.
5) Cultural/Identity: (shutting down of churches and religious ceremonies/events would be an example)
Cultural abuse happens when abusers use aspects of a victim’s particular cultural identity to inflict suffering, or as a means of control. Not letting someone observe the dietary or dress customs of their faith, using racial slurs, or isolating someone who doesn’t speak the dominant language where they live – all of these are examples of cultural abuse.
6) Emotional/Verbal (This is very common in what we were witnessing in terms dangerous, selfish, crazy, conspiracy theorist, etc)
While the signs of physical abuse might be noticeable to a friend or family member, the effects of verbal/emotional abuse are harder to spot, and harder to prove. Emotional scars can often take longer to heal. Most people in relationships have said that the physical abuse is easier to get over because it’s only temporary, while emotional and verbal scars take years to work through.
Stockholm Syndrome is often a result of long term abuse. When any form of abuse goes on long enough and the victim is dependent on the abuser for means of survival, often the victim will start to defend the abuser and their tactics. We saw this throughout the pandemic through masked/unmasked, jabbed/unjabbed, threats to peoples’ lives and much discrimination/aggression towards specific groups of people. We saw this at the truckers’ convoy in Ottawa when people were being run over by horses or arrested for being peaceful protestors.
When abuse is long term as well, it causes a great distress to the body due to the prolonged levels of adrenaline and cortisol created within the body and therefore, the energy and stress can often get trapped. E-motion is energy in motion and when abuse goes on for a long time, we end up in what’s called a “freeze” state from the level of fear and confusion.
Long term effects of abuse and trauma:
- suppressed anger and rage
- a change in the brain function, can even cause damage
- emotional regulation issues
- sleep problems
- attachment problems
- chronic pain
- chronic dis-ease
- terminal illness
- gastrointestinal issues
- breathing problems
As the body is not supposed to be in a heightened state of stress for prolonged periods of time, it is natural that you will have all kinds of symptoms due to high levels of adrenaline and cortisol produced. The good news is that although the symptoms you feel may seem concerning, there are treatment options to help with this and it always starts with your breath.
So be sure to keep your mask off and remember to breathe deeply when you are feeling stressed. Other good grounding options are to go outside and listen to the birds, or walk barefoot in the grass, listen to calming music, or if possible, find a good comedy show to laugh at (this automatically will help you with breathing deeply), speak to a friend, family member or a mental health specialist who is aware of abuse types and the long term effects. You are not alone through any of this, no matter how much you may feel you are, you’re ok and I’m ok.
Thanks for watching.