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Let's Talk Life - Traumatised by my family

Published:Saturday | June 2, 2012 | 12:00 AM
  • Traumatised by my family

Dear Counsellor,

I grew up in a dysfunctional family and would not want my children to live in one. My father used to physically and emotionally abuse my mother. My mother would leave home for months at a time. Looking back, I see that I developed post-traumatic stress disorder and depression and I am still struggling today with those issues.

- Angela

Dear Angela,

I can empathise with your situation. Many children are growing up in dysfunctional families and are having a hard time. Domestic violence is a complex issue. One wonders why the woman doesn't leave the relationship and start life a new. Couples therapy sometimes works, but many times, the situation keeps repeating itself. The woman herself is traumatised and needs individual counselling. The children are traumatised and need counselling. Living in fear from day to day that your father might kill your mother does take its toll on children. These children grow up quickly as they have to learn to fend for themselves.

In the past, men usually felt that they owned their women and children. To understand why men beat women, one needs to look back at history. These days, there are crisis centres, and women and children are receiving help.

Domestic violence has to be dealt with in a multi-sectoral way. There is the issue of getting justice for the woman and the children. Post-traumatic stress disorder and depression can interfere with the functioning of the individual. Relationships fall by the wayside as the individual brings the past into the relationship.

You need to be receiving counselling and coaching. You need coaching on interpersonal skills, relational skills, and self-care. You will need to set boundaries and limits in relationships. You will need help with assertiveness and being comfortable in close relationships. You will need to work on your anger and rage reactions. You are angry at your father for being abusive to you and your mother. You need to let go and let God heal you and your family.You need to deal with the past so that you can address the present.

  • I am afraid to travel

Dear Counsellor,

I was a passenger in a car that crashed into a truck and I have a broken leg. I am afraid to go driving and so I stay at home. I get flashbacks, nightmares, and have sleep problems. My job involves travelling, and I am thinking of seeking a new job.

- Joan

Dear Joan,

Motor vehicle crashes are very traumatic and if someone dies, it is even more so. Driving will stir up fear of accidents and death. You will need counselling to help you cope with your thoughts. Cognitive behaviour therapy will help you to deal with your anxiety.

Email questions and feedback for Dr Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson to or call 978-8602.