THE TRAUMA AFTER THE TRAUMA
by Ann Justi
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I was settling into our new home after being married just four months. I was making business calls and getting our budget in order. I made the mistake of using my maiden name and not my newly married name on a call. My husband overheard it. Oops.
He started with yelling at me, then progressed to hitting and kicking. My first experience being physically abused in my marriage left me with a broken nose, a broken palate, bruising throughout my lower body and (though I didn’t know it right away) permanent damage to one of my inner ears, causing hearing loss that would never return. I honestly thought he was going to kill me.
My injuries had been treated and my husband was awaiting sentencing. I woke up and had to go to work. But something was not right; I did not feel right, deep inside. I did not want to leave the house. I thought that something was wrong. I was on high alert, akin to when you hear someone about to break into your home late at night. I felt that any random stranger I encountered might hurt me. I did not want anyone touching me.
This was not me. I was the person who could get through anything. I had dealt with injuries before - a broken nose from a car accident, other bangs, and bruises from childhood. But this time, something was different; something not physical or visible but very real.
The evaluating therapist determined that I had PTSD but did not explain it to me and thought that having time away from my husband and talking about the incident would help me. It did the opposite. I did not want to relive that again; I missed the husband I fell in love with, not the man who had attacked me.
Someone at my local Westchester yoga class suggested that I try Kundalini yoga classes. The Kundalini studio advertised a yoga Rebirthing class, designed specifically for overcoming unresolved problems with pain and fear. I tried it, following it up with classes in Sacred Therapies, Kundalini yoga mediations for mental health and more. Rebirthing classes were for removing the baggage of the past, all collectively known as yoga therapy. I got dramatically better, learning how to move forward in my life and continue working without reliving the trauma, without my husband and without a complete distrust of strangers.
This was a defining moment for me - I used my resourcefulness and worked to help myself overcome my PTSD when traditional methods did not work, then I used those skills I learned to become a teacher and help others with PTSD and other mental and physical issues.
Once I felt ready to look for romantic partners again, I chose to be upfront about my past trauma, without any shame or embarrassment - I was a survivor. My story has a great ending; I am now happily married to a fellow domestic violence survivor who is male (yes, it does happen), whom I’m very grateful to for accepting me as I am and giving me a safe home. I am grateful for many people in my life. For instance, I thank the friend who sheltered me, saving my life, and another who helped me relocate. I have learned that my life is more important than any possession or relationship.
The symptoms of PTSD vary from person to person, depending on how long ago the trauma occurred, the type of trauma, your history of trauma and resilience. However, general symptoms from PTSD include the following: a significant change in physical and emotional reactions, nightmares and sleep problems, avoidance of interacting or things associated with the trauma, feeling “on guard” most of the time and invasive upsetting memories or flashbacks of the trauma.
Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD. If you feel something is not normal for you - GET HELP.
You are not alone, and support helps the healing process.
Add to your recovery with complementary and alternative therapies. I found doing several things to help my PTSD relieved it quicker and more completely in the long term.
Ann Justi has been a yoga therapist for over 10 years specializing in mental health including PTSD and physical limitation issues. She is a certified master desire life coach who assists clients on an individual and group basis in designing relationships, lifestyle desires, and finding their true identity. She also speaks at events and produces mastermind groups as well as educational seminars. If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD and would like more information, contact Ann at:
This story was taken from the book "Defining Moments: SOS - Stories of Survival" available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Visit the "My Defining Moments" website for more info or to share your own story.
Warner, M., Torres, A., & Justi, A. (2020). Defining Moments: SOS Stories of Survival: Real People Solving Real Problems: The Trauma After the Trauma. Defining Moments Press, Inc.
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