Trauma & Abuse


Trauma is our subjective response to some sort of disaster or abuse where we are left feeling wounded and helpless because we experience a threat to our identity, safety, or life. Trauma can come from any number of things such as:
    • Natural disasters
    • Accidents
    • Childhood physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
    • War and other military trauma
    • Surgical medical procedures involving loss (e.g., amputation and abortion)
    • Domestic violence and emotional abuse
    • Criminal assault, including police brutality
    • Kidnapping and hostage-taking situations [1]
    • Loss of a child (e.g., stillborn, miscarriage, kidnapping, and runaway)
    • Medical negligence (e.g., gaslighting and birth trauma)
    • Death or near death
    • Rape or other sexual traumas (e.g., sex trafficking)
    • Terrorism
    • Cultural and religious
    • Workplace violence and discrimination
a womans hand stretched out and facing the camera. A gesture that indicates stop, enough. Black and white

Common Psychological Disorders

Common psychological disorders that can develop if exposure to traumatic events is not expressed in a rational way, depending upon the length and frequency of the exposure and when the traumatic event(s) occurred, include such disorders as Acute Stress Disorder, Adjustment Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) including Complex PTSD (CPTSD) [2], Mood and Anxiety Disorders, Personality Disorders, and Somatoform Disorders [3].

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, in general, means physical, emotional, psychological, financial, or sexual abuse between one person and another, which has a goal of power and control over the victim. In general, the victim may not even notice that they are in a relationship with an abuser at the beginning and the abuser may not even intend to start it that way. However that’s not always the case, particularly in cases related to Intimate Partner Violence. The term “domestic”, however implies that the person must be living with the other person, such as in the case of a boyfriend or girlfriend, which comes from some state laws as it relates to criminal charges. In order for it to be considered a domestic violence related charge, there must be sort of intimate relationship in that case, because there is no family relationship or cohabitation. However, civil law, as it pertains to an order of protection may be viewed differently. The laws vary state-to-state.

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence is similar to domestic violence, but the main distinguishing feature, is that the language has changed to draw attention to the fact that this type of violence typically occurs between two people who are in a “romantic” or “intimate” relationship. These individuals refer to the other as boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse even if they are not living together or have never lived together, even if they may have plans to do so someday. Criminal law, civil law, and even common knowledge or common sense does not always agree on what would constitute an “intimate partner” [4]. Because victims of domestic violence and even offenders are not always given social justice because of the differences in the laws, many suffer from what I call double-trauma.

Treatment for Trauma and Abuse

Trauma doesn’t have to hold you hostage. The way that you understand your experience and choose to live with the effects is just as subjective as your response during the event and in the initial days following the potentially traumatic event. If there is no history of a mental health disorder or other trauma, short-term Catholic psychotherapy, such as 12 sessions, may be all that is needed from an experienced clinician who understands how to work with trauma. Forgiveness therapy and spiritual counseling can help you learn how to break free from the grip that these events still have on your well-being, as well as help you to discover a new purpose as part of having experienced trauma.

Many professionals refer to someone with my level of knowledge and experience as a trauma therapist because the majority of my clients have experienced multiple traumas in their lives. I will personalize your treatment for trauma or abuse by offering you choices from a list of the different methods that I use, which will include the potential risks and benefits. Trauma-informed psychotherapy, which focuses on the trauma that you have experienced, combined with specific methods will be implemented to help you stop the panic and rage during your sessions, and in between sessions. If you have experienced trauma as a result of domestic violence or intimate partner violence, it will be important to include psychoeducation about safety planning, power and control, and healthy boundaries. [5]

  • Do you work with domestic violence offenders?
  • Do you work with couples and families?

Yes. I have worked with offenders, including those who have committed acts of violence against their family members and intimate partners. I have a very deep understanding about the reason why offenders engage in power and control, why victims stay in the relationship, and the cycle of violence, much of which I have not yet published. I am a Clinically Certified Domestic Violence Counselor in addition to my licensure and several other credentials. Forgiveness therapy is a proven method for working with offenders, which my work with Forgiveness Therapy is highly by endorsed Robert D. Enright, Ph.D. who is regarded as “the Father of Forgiveness Therapy”, as well as other experts in domestic violence who specialize in working with offenders.

No. I do not do couples counseling because of the risk of violence between partners. It is unethical, dangerous, and potentially illegal for any counselor or psychotherapist to engage in couples counseling or to make a referral to another psychotherapist for couples counseling when there is a history of violence or threat of violence between the couple, particularly if there is a recent history.

I also do not work with minors (under the age of 18 years old) [6] or families, although on occasion, I have helped some clients who are already engaged in individual therapy to speak with a family member. My role, however, is simply to serve as a facilitator of healthy communication. In other rare circumstances, it may be important to speak with a family member to better understand a client’s developmental stages in order to ensure that there’s not another underlying condition if the client is showing signs of that and has reported other things to me in session.


[1] Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition that occurs when a person who has been subjected to some form of abuse identifies and attaches or bonds, positively with his or her abuser. This syndrome was originally observed when hostages who were kidnapped not only bonded with their kidnappers, but also “fell in love” with them as a result of the infamous bank robbery and six-day stand-off with police in Stockholm, Sweden. Several of the bank employees decided not to testify against their captors and even raised money for their defense. Note, however, that this is not a case of real love or even “common love”. It’s a situation that involves an emotional and psychological defensive strategy where a person who, in their attempt to survive a very traumatic situation, is so fearful of the loss of his or her life and personal safety, that he or she copes, in the moment, by seeking to identify with the offender’s actions as simply “human” and even have empathy and compassion for him or her to the point of defending his or her actions. Yet, it’s not out of “wishing the offender well” as in the case of forgiveness or love. It’s a matter of survival and fear of their own “secret wish to harm the offender” or his or her own “capacity to do the same”, which is a result of his or her own unconscious anger.

[2] The term Complex PTSD (CPTSD) refers to the fact that the cause of the PTSD is not one isolated event but involves many events over a long time (such as child abuse throughout childhood). Richmond, R. (1997-2022). Trauma – and PTSD. A Guide to Psychology and its Practice. Retrieved on January 14, 2023, from https://www.guidetopsychology.com/ptsd.htm#Trauma. Copyright.© 1997-2022 Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Reproduced with adaptations with permission by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.

[3] Somatoform Disorder, also known as somatic symptom disorder (SSD), psychosomatic disorder or conversion disorder is a mental health condition that causes an individual to experience bodily symptoms in response to psychological distress. One example includes psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES).

[4] Greater than 95% of my clients have reported to me that they have experienced domestic violence or intimate partner violence at some point in their lives, which includes victims and offenders. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence publishes a National Statistics Domestic Violence Fact Sheet, while these numbers are alarming, the numbers may actually be very low.

[5] Recommended Reading: Boundaries: Protecting Yourself from Emotional Harm by, Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Available for purchase on Amazon. https://a.co/d/fEB0egy

[6] Parental-Alienation refers to a type of strategic, psychological and emotional abuse of a child, with the goal to estrange the child from the other parent. The child is more afraid of losing the affection of the parent who is alienating him or her than he or she is of the lies and manipulation that he or she has been told about the other parent, even if the lies and manipulation have some truth. After all, the best lies are the ones that have the most truth. Parental kidnapping, with or without the cooperation of the Court or the successful manipulation of others is parental alienation in one of its most extreme forms. Anyone who aides and abets a parent who kidnaps a child is culpable for the harm that is done to the parent-child relationship.

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