Complex trauma is different from incidental trauma, such as an accident, an assault, experiencing a natural disaster, or loss of a child. All of the above can be very traumatizing, and very debilitating and the individual may need help recovering from this .
Complex trauma on the other hand is when an individual is exposed to multiple traumas over and over for an extended period of time. Such as child abuse over many years, repeated assaults, repeated domestic violence, or combat for veterans.
When a child experiences complex trauma it can interfere with their development, the ability to form heathy relationships, and to develop their authentic identity .
There is hope and people can heal from Complex trauma and other Incidental trauma
Complex Trauma hijacks the child's development process they are not allowed to develop their authentic self, they are told who, what, and how to be. When they start the process to understand what happened to them, why they feel so different, and why they don't know how to navigate relationships it may feel lonely and hard to find someone who understands. Often when a survivor reaches out to people in the "recovery" world, they find these individuals and therapist know how to help adults who went into cults and then left. They are talking about recovery of a prior self. It is clear, that for those who were born and raised in cults there is no prior identity to connect with, instead it is a discovery process. So the treasure hunt begins to find those pieces of their authentic self, the pieces they hid so they would not be abused, and the gems of their soul, that their abusers never got their destructive hands on. The journey continues and it is painful at times but as the survivor connects to those pieces of their "Self" it is worth the journey.
1) Provide a safe place where the survivor can be in control.
2) Listen to their story and validate it no mater how unbelievable it is.
3) The survivor is hypervigilant and will easily become, what they think you need them to be.
4) Think of the survivor as coming from a different culture.