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#402103 - 06/28/12 10:09 PM Can Others See Our Trauma?
jls Offline


Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 1142
I was out of town recently visiting some friends. Both are social workers and during a discussion about their work the subject of childhood trauma came up. I (being me) didn't share anything about my csa history but during the course of the conversation one of my friends began talking about how many trauma survivors don't like to talk about their trauma. He then looked me straight in the eye and said that sometimes all it can take is one look for him to tell if someone is a trauma survivor. At this time I felt quite uncomfortable and not knowing what to say I did my best to veer the subject to something else. My question is do others here believe that what he said has some truth? I realize that the person I mentioned is a professional and may see what the layperson can't but even so it weirds me out to think that my history is that obvious. Anyways thoughts are appreciated.
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#402104 - 06/28/12 10:17 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
nltsaved Offline


Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 838
Loc: Kc,Mo
i got to say i no for sure when someone has been abused i can see it they all have this certain stare . I have picked them out one by one . one of my daughters friends was abused and i could tell turns out by her uncle . My step son and step daughter i knew right off that they had been abused i told my wife and she talked to them and sure enough there uncle had abused them both . So as far as i can tell it is real easy to spot
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#402105 - 06/28/12 10:46 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: nltsaved]
Clockwise Offline


Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 302
Loc: Pennsylvania
This is something that has always frightned me. For so long I've scared the shit out of myself wondering if other people can see all the pain I have inside because of what's happened to me. Sometimes when I walk down the street I can feel the eyes of others boring holes into the back of my head and the only thing I can think of is "They know". I think on some level some people can sense that another person has been abused. I think some of us just have that "hurt" look on our faces. But some of it is just in our heads also.
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#402108 - 06/28/12 11:30 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
Napoleon Offline


Registered: 04/06/11
Posts: 166
Loc: Utah
Yes, but not always...

All of my life people have shared their stories of abuse. Almost as if they expected I would share mine back... Why would people share these stories with me? I would tried once to talk about these things with people that I thought where closer, but they would have no clue.... They had never shared anything that would lead them to believe...

My own abuse was repressed until about 3 years ago, but I think these people knew... Most those who notice- notice because they share your pain... Or perhaps are triggered by the same things they are… If they can tell they understand, they are not judging you... My Ex and I both had suppressed memories of abuse, I think its why we got along so well…
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#402111 - 06/29/12 12:46 AM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: Napoleon]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6815
Loc: USA
Most people around us don't know and don't care. The teeming masses of people are wrapped up in their own concerns and they don't want to "see".

But there are those who can and do see. I think that the guy who abused me in the scout camp chose me carefully to be the one he would pick on. He was looking for someone who wouldn't blab or be able to defend himself. But then he intimidated me with words and a knife and other stuff.

I have recently figured out that my mother realized that my grandfather had abused me when I was 4. She packed us up in the car and got us out of there as soon as she could. We didn't go back there for 4 years until he was dead.

A lot of people around us know, even if subconsciously, what to look for in a person that's been abused. Remember that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 guys get abused before age 18. They know from within what to look for. But usually they are understanding of our needs because they have "been there".

The thing is that a lot of us put on a mask, especially before we start to deal with our trauma. Some of us actually work at hiding it from others. I think that in that case we can often succeed in fooling others.

Puffer

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#402115 - 06/29/12 02:19 AM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3319
Loc: back in the USA
the mere thought that many people can tell just by looking makes me angry. If so - why don't they do anything about it?

i prefer to think that most people are far too wrapped up in their own personal stuff that they wouldn't recognize it if it was written across our foreheads.

i do think that a survivor can often be sensitive to subtle signs in another survivor that outsiders would not pick up.

and like Puffer said, some of us are really good at hiding it. some of us actually hid it from ourselves for years!

lee
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#402125 - 06/29/12 07:23 AM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
SamV Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 5941
Loc: Talladega, Alabama, USA
This is a great thread jls, thanks for starting it.

Since recovery, I have chosen the folks that I have disclosed to based on their safety and the probability that they too, men and women, may have been abused. My wife urged me to go to her friends house and while we were talking, I felt a commonality with the man that was a stronger bond than with those I knew to be non abused. I disclosed to him, and he immediately disclosed to me. It was a powerful moment, I could safely share my pain and get fellow feeling. I was able to see how another survivor motivated and supported himself, it was very empowering.

Since then I have disclosed as a way to test whether or not my instincts were correct, and it is pretty clear that there are identifying signs in the abused that can be "read" to determine with accuracy the history of a survivor.

It does cause some heartache to become aware of the 1 in 6 as a real number, with a real face, family and pain. Still the more I reach out, the more I can share and support, the more healing takes place around me and in me.

Sam
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#402508 - 07/03/12 09:38 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
ShortedDiode Offline


Registered: 11/26/11
Posts: 92
Loc: Hamilton, ON Canada
I think there's some truth to that but I don't necessarily think you can tell from just one look. I think it's one of those things where you form a suspicion based on a collection of evidence. Take some of the common behaviours for example like shyness, jumpy at loud/unexpected sounds, clam up when certain subjects come up in conversation, not at ease with people and takes a long time to settle down, always looking around for signs of danger, jump out of their skin at the slightest touch, etc. What I think actually happens is that people with experience or expertise to notice enough of the typical behavioural cues to suspect a trauma survivor can tell pretty quickly who's normal and unaffected apart from people who throw off enough of the red flags.

The question then becomes how many people can tell? How long does it take to tell, ie. is it noticeable to some people or a lot of people and is it something that can casually be observed walking down the street? I suspect it's only a small subset of people that can actually tell and that it's not immediate, that it'd take at least a couple of minutes to tell, which is reassuring. I wouldn't want a large number of people to be able to peg me at a glance when I'm out in public in the course of my daily life.
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#402510 - 07/03/12 09:55 PM * [Re: jls]
Smalltown80sBoy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 2217
*


Edited by Smalltown80sBoy (04/28/13 06:05 PM)

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#402513 - 07/03/12 11:19 PM Re: Can Others See Our Trauma? [Re: jls]
chambers Offline


Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 118
Loc: VA
I've always thought people could see it, especially women for some reason. It's kind of why I thought I could never make any romantic relationship last, because they could see I was messed up.

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