How To Fade Scars Of The Past
Updated April 02, 2019
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
If you have had surgery you will have scars, there is no way around it. It is the same way with traumatic experiences. Anyone who goes through any kind of abuse (psychological, physical, or sexual), a serious accident, or natural disasters such as a tornado or earthquake, will have scars as well. It is important that you know that everyone gets scars if they have had a traumatic past, there is no way around that either. Ignoring them will not make them go away but these scars can heal if you acknowledge and treat them. Time does not heal anything, but if you use that time to heal yourself, the scars will fade.
Types of Trauma
There are many types of trauma, some more traumatic than others. In some cases, the trauma is so bad or goes on so long that it causes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The most commonly reported traumatic events that can cause PTSD to include:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Natural disasters (tornado, earthquake, flood, hurricane)
- Car accident
- Military combat
- Workplace hostility
Who May Be a Victim?
Anyone can be a victim, even children. In fact, children are most often affected by traumatic events bad enough to cause scars through abuse. Even if the child is not the target of the abuse, just witnessing the abuse is traumatic enough to cause PTSD and scars that may not show up until many years later when the child seemingly forgot about the abuse. Sometimes, these scars do not show up until the child is an adult and they all of a sudden start having symptoms of PTSD.
But not all trauma is as obvious as physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse can occur at any age and with anyone. Often, when traumatic abuse is mentioned most will think of physical abuse such as domestic violence or physical violence toward a child. Not very often is psychological abuse thought off until the victim mentions the trauma suffered at school or work by peers or colleagues.
Schools have been a breeding ground for bullying forever and most children were taunted when they were growing up, but recent studies have shown that children that are bullied at school are at an increased risk for lower academic performance, less social interactions, and a lifetime of emotional scarring. Bullying has risen to new levels of abuse and no longer just a casual teasing, bullying in school has seen a sharp increase with the rise of an unstable political environment in the United States and an almost acceptance of disdain for differences.
While bullying is showing no signs of stopping, schools are struggling to keep students safe and engaged in their studies, which is proving to be more difficult than the schools may have imagined. The common solution in school systems is to punish the bully, but this is not the most effective way to handle the bullying situation. There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that punishment is not an effective form of behavior extinction, yet the schools are still using this archaic method. The proper way to cope with the bully situation in schools is by education for all students on social-emotional needs. Most schools shy away from discussing any type of psychological component unless it is in a psychology class and involves theory.
Another group of victims that is not immediately thought about is those in hostile work environments. This happens frequently but not spoken about often for the same reasons that other abuse victims do not discuss their abuse, fear of repercussion. An employer has the power to take away the sole source of income for an employee and if the employee does not have another job lined up they may not want to report the abuse they are dealing with.
Workplace bullying is on the rise. Those affected can have reduced performance at work, a negative impact on their mental health, and show signs of physical ailments. It is harder to understand the impact of workplace bullying on employees since there is no standard list for what workplace bullying looks like, each employee has a subjective view of the way they were bullied. Although there may not be a complete list of what constitutes workplace bullying, there is concrete evidence to show it exists and can cause lasting trauma.
All trauma can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or what is commonly referred to as PTSD. PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic event and can occur at any age.
Symptoms of PTSD have four different groups, which include reliving events, avoiding certain things, developing negative thoughts, and hypersensitivity.
- Night terrors or nightmares
- Bad memories
- Avoiding certain memories (places, things, activities)
- Not wanting to talk about the events
- Guilt or shame
- Thinking bad thoughts
- Blaming yourself
- Inability to be happy
- Addictions (alcohol or drugs)
- Anticipating danger
- Inability to concentrate
- Sleeping difficulty
- Increasing anger and irritability
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
Treatment to Fade Scars
Weathering a traumatic event can create distrust, but it is imperative that you reach out to someone you do trust to report the abuse, or if the abuse happened in the past, to talk about what happened to start the healing journey. Whether it is a friend, family member, or therapist; you need to tell someone what you are feeling. Talking about it really does help. You may not feel like you are ready to talk to anyone, which is common. There are websites where you can join chat rooms and just observe or you can participate anonymously. You can also talk to a licensed professional online or on the phone if you want to. Once again, you do not have to use your name if you are not ready. You can contact them anytime you feel ready, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Face to face meetings, individual chat rooms, phone calls, and texting are all available online. There are other types of therapy that can help with PTSD. Some of these include:
- Psychotherapy is a form of talk therapy that helps identify bad memories.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy helps to change your thinking and behaviors.
- Eye movement desensitization works by creating sounds and sights while you talk about your trauma.
- Exposure therapy is a method of desensitization that works by having you talk about your traumatic past over and over.
It is important to remember that you are not what happened to you, it was a part of your life that you did not ask for. If you are currently in an abusive situation, please reach out for help immediately to stop the abuse and start your life again.