34-year-old Megan* came to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) six months ago because she recognized some unhealthy patterns in her relationships. Although Megan had never experienced physical violence in an intimate relationship, after she got divorced last year she realized in retrospect the relationship had been emotionally abusive. Her needs were often dismissed and disregarded by her then-husband.
After her divorce, Megan dated a man who often openly flirted with other women when they were together. He was not interested in Megan’s work accomplishments, her personal interests, or in meeting her friends. He often misled her or lied to her about what he was doing and who he was with. Upon intake at the DVSC, Megan completed the Trauma Symptom Checklist (TSC), which is widely used to evaluate symptoms connected with childhood or adult traumatic experiences. Megan’s initial score was 67 (of a possible 120), indicating that Megan was experiencing a variety of symptoms.
In the first couple of months of her work with her DVSC counselor, Megan was surprised to find herself exploring her experiences in her early life, and even more surprised to find that her feelings of being dismissed, unimportant, and ‘invisible’ in her family growing up were many of the same feelings she had in her adult relationships. Megan and her counselor worked to understand how triggers from adult relationships were stirring things up from earlier in her life, and how she might be able to prevent that from continuing to happen.
After two months of working with her counselor, Megan’s TSC score improved to 44. Megan was reporting far fewer and less severe symptoms. For another four months Megan and her counselor worked to enact the strategies they identified as useful in helping Megan cultivate relationships where she felt seen, understood, and valued.
After six months, Megan completed the TSC again and scored a 22. Her symptoms have been largely reduced and she is working on consolidating the gains she made in counseling and enjoying the higher quality of relationships in her life.
*Name has been changed.