Healing from Domestic Abuse
Victim’s Nightmares Become Survivor’s Triggers

Dr. King


by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.


Domestic abuse survivors encounter experiences that bring to life their prior victimization. It can be so real for them that they believe they are “that person” again. And this thought even haunts them. Has that ever happened to you?

Domestic Violence Triggers

A trigger is something that stirs something else. It can be as subtle as a scent or mannerism of a past violent partner, or as dramatic as the courtroom scene where your kids were “kidnapped” from your custody.

It stirs the memory that lies dormant in the muscle, and once those neurons start firing...all hell breaks lose. It’s as though you are that which is being stirred in the same way you knew yourself as that before...

You feel it in your body, in your voice, in your breath, in your entire being. It can come over you so completely that you think you are “that person” again.

Reenactment of Your Domestic Violence Victimization

Now the experience that erupts within you...overcoming you...is the internal cue for you to draw upon the strength you have created in yourself. It so important that you see it this way; otherwise you could easily fool yourself into believing that you are “that person” again. And from here, you sink into the depths of your prior victimization.

You see the body doesn’t know the difference between the “real” event or the “imagined” event. You could be reliving your nightmare and your psychophysiology enacts it as though it is now.

You are not “that person” again. Rather you are you having “that experience” again. Best part is that you, and only you, have the ability to see it as such and interrupt the process of “trigger-enactment.”

Keeping Your Domestic Violence Triggers in Check

Use the body cues to awaken you to seek other ways of being in that moment. For example, a rush of anxiety can be mitigated with intentional rhythmic diaphragmatic breathing. Now this may sound simple. It is simple...subtle and significant.

You can literally change your experience by altering your physiology, and change your body by altering your thoughts. That’s the key to keeping your domestic violence triggers in check. That’s the key to your being an empowered domestic abuse survivor, rather than a weakened re-victimized domestic violence victim.

So next time you stumble upon that scent or scene that makes your hair stand on end, know you have options. You don’t have to become “that person” again. You can use the wisdom of the person you are today to create the experience of your choosing.

For more information on healing from domestic abuse, visit www.preventabusiverelationships.com/healing_from_within.php and claim your Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals and couples nationwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. © Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.