Sexual Assault: Why Survivors Don’t Come Forward Sooner

By Samantha Glosser

If you watch the news or are an avid social media consumer, you have probably heard about various claims of sexual assault against public and political figures, where the victim did not immediately come forward. We recently saw this with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who publicly accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her as a teenager. Situations like Dr. Ford’s have opened up a discussion about one important question: why do survivors wait so long to report an assault? Research shows that it is a normal response for survivors of sexual assault to take time before reporting the assault, if they report at all. This may not make sense to you, as you are probably wondering why they wouldn’t want justice or revenge on their abuser. However, there are numerous reasons that compel survivors to prolong or withhold disclosing that they were sexually abused.

  1. Fear of being victimized a second time. Reporting a sexual assault often leads to new and added traumas from peers, family members, police officers, lawyers, etc. This feeling often comes from having to relive the experience or from people indicating that the victim caused the sexual assault by asking questions like, “What were you wearing at the time of the attack?”
  2. Lack of support. Lack of support is a multi-faceted issue. Survivors find it hard to report if they are not surrounded by loved ones who support them. However, even with this support, individuals still refrain from reporting because they know that our society has a tendency to blame the victim for the sexual assault. A lack of support can even come from other survivors of sexual assault. Typically, other survivors are seen as a source of comfort. However, some will dismiss another person’s assault with statements like, “What’s the big deal? It happens to all of us. Get over it.”
  3. Decline in functioning after the assault. Survivors of sexual assault experience intense feelings of shame, worthlessness, and self-loathing which can quickly bring on depression and anxiety. It is difficult for survivors to contemplate a course of action after the assault when they can barely figure out how to make it through the day. In the midst of these emotions, survivors want to forget and pretend that the assault did not occur.
  4. Vague memories of the attack. In some cases, victims of sexual assault were drugged by their abuser or previously inebriated. Both of these situations can lead to victims only having a vague memory of the attack. In addition, the trauma endured by some victims is so severe it causes them to dissociate, which also leads to vague memories. When individuals do not have a vivid recollection of the event, they may be scared to come forward because they fear others will not believe them, or in some cases because they do not believe their own memories.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-women/2018/10/6-big-reasons-women-dont-report-sexual-abuse-right-away/

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Couples Counseling: The Benefits

By Stephanie Osuba

According to PsychCentral.com, there are many reasons why people chose to participate in couples therapy, as well as many reasons they don’t. The common reason couples usually don’t consider counseling is out of embarrassment or the stigma that surrounds the intimate details of one’s personal relationship. The stigma dictates that only people who are in a very broken state in their relationship can benefit from couples counseling. However, no relationship is perfect and sometimes even the most socially competent of us need the help of a professional. Psychologists can help couples identify key problems in the relationship in a structured way that acknowledges the feelings of both parties. Although it’s never easy to reopen past wounds, it is the only way to push through to a place of understanding with a partner. Sessions can also determine whether the relationship needs some fine-tuning, a complete rebuilding, or a separation of ways.

Here are some benefits of couples counseling:

  • Improved communication skills
  • Increase in emotional and physical connection
  • Life plan development
  • Resolving conflicts in a structured way
  • Building a healthy relationship ­– ultimately leading to individual growth as well

Common issues couples hope to resolve in therapy: infidelity, poor communication, financial issues, parenting or co-parenting, work and career, emotional and physical intimacy, separation or divorce, abuse, grief and loss, and life transitions.

If you or someone you know appears to be having marital problems, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Narcissism: 5 Major Signs You’re Missing

By Stephanie Osuba

According to PsychCentral.com, there are a few trademark signs of a narcissist that are pretty hard to miss. They all think the world revolves around them and are very much preoccupied with themselves, their preferences, needs, success, and, most importantly, how they are viewed by other people. Even more important still, their aesthetics.

Narcissism usually stems from a major attachment dysfunction, whether from parents or primary caregiver, and that dysfunction is attributed to a major emotional trauma or a culmination of repeated trauma or neglect. This separation or attachment trauma stunts emotional capacity and maturity, usually from an age of adolescence. Because the emotional pain is too much to bare, the child than creates a false persona in order to cope and have the world perceive them to be better off than they actually are. On the other hand, narcissism can also be attributed to overindulgence from parents when their child does the bare minimum.

Here are 5 major signs a narcissist exhibits:

  1. False Humility: A narcissist may put him or herself down on purpose and bait you into complimenting them. They are attention-seeking and have a need for their ego to be stroked constantly.
  2. Lack of Empathy: Because they are only interested in fulfilling their own agendas, narcissists often see people as things to be used. Once you have given them what they wanted, emotionally or physically, they discard you and don’t feel guilty about it. Narcissists are selfish and their relationships are very much one-sided as they are expecting of others to constantly serve them and give nothing in return.
  3. Immature Responses: Narcissists are extremely reactive and highly sensitive people. The slightest criticism can be perceived as the highest of offenses. They blow perceived or actual threats out of proportion and often blame others for their reactivity. Narcissists will also often become passive-aggressive when dealing with a situation that angers them or engage in childish bullying.
  4. Simplification of Other’s Needs: In short, narcissists don’t care about your problems, only their own. They will find a way to minimize any situation that isn’t worth their time in order to brush it off as stupid or useless. Belittling emotions and deflecting in order to blame others is also a common tactic.
  5. Inability to Listen: Narcissists will often give generic advice if forced to speak and not ask questions during a conversation in order to keep dialogue to a minimum. They don’t care about your emotions or what you have to say unless it benefits them.

If either you or anybody you know may be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at https://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Source: Bogdanos, M. (2017, July 11). 5 Signs of Covert Narcissism. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/5-signs-of-covert-narcissism/

Leaving an Abusive Relationship

By: Emily Ramos

Note: Abuse is not sex-linked. Just as men can abuse women, women can abuse males, and vice-versa. This article applies to everyone who is a victim of abuse.

Why do people stay in abusive relationships if they are unhappy? It is easy to put the blame on victims for choosing to remain with their abuser when you don’t know the extent of what they are going through.  Many times they worry their attacker will do one of the following if they end up leaving:

  • stalk and harass them
  • kill them
  • hold their children hostage
  • kill their pets
  • threaten to commit suicide

It would be easier for someone to leave if they were guaranteed protection from their assailant like a witness protection program. Luckily there are restraining orders that can be filed on behalf of the victim and their loved ones. Here are some helpful tips if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship:

  1. Make sure you have a strong support system. The more people you have to provide moral and emotional support the more likely you are to follow through with leaving.
  2. Pack your things. Actions speak louder than words, saying you plan to leave is not the same as actually leaving. If you continue to hold off, the situation will only get worse. Abusive relationships never get better and, in some instances, end in death. Taking steps now will improve your chances of being able to escape. If you don’t already have one, open a savings account in your name. Start to put together personal items and important documents that you can leave with a trusted friend and make sure these items won’t get noticed it’s missing.
  3. IF you decide to end the relationship in person, make sure it is done in a public setting. Let your friends know where you are meeting and have someone close by waiting to make sure it all goes according to plan. Also, bring your cellphone and have the number of a local domestic violence shelter on speed dial in case of an emergency.
  4. DO NOT STAY IN CONTACT. Any attempt on the part of your abuser to reach out to you is just their way of manipulating you into taking them back. Agreeing to meet in person is very dangerous.
  5. NEVER assume you’re safe just because you successfully left. Make sure you have a backup plan for every possible scenario that may arise. Avoid participating in the same routines as previously or going to places you previously frequented. Make sure you never do things alone and switch all your social media to private (tell your family and friends to do so as well).
  6. Instead of changing your number, get an alternate number and only give it out to people you trust. Keep your old one and let all calls go straight to voicemail; this will give your abuser the impression that it is still your current number. Save any threatening e-mails, texts, or letters as evidence in case you need to get a restraining order in the future.

By taking the right precautionary steps, you can safely leave your relationship and live a better life.

If you or a person you know is struggling with an abusive relationship, it may be beneficial to have them contact a mental health professional and receive therapy for their illnesses. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

The Power of Optimism

Isabelle Kreydin

When you go through a traumatic experience, the time it takes to recover is immeasurable and flooded with uncertainty. It could be anything between a breakup, abuse, a car accident, a loved one’s death, or even your entire childhood. When you acquire a mental illness, or know someone who has, it truly does affect every aspect of your life. Even stress, can alter brain chemistry and one’s way of life. But brokenness is not beautiful because of the way you are, but the way you will be when you are finally free.

You might feel alone. But you are alone because you feel as though are burdening others with your pain, and now are trying to reassemble yourself on your own and trying to fight the mental illnesses from becoming you. You’re trying but right now you are physically and mentally exhausted. It’s a tiring work of progress, but the only way out of the tunnel is through, and we know better than to turn around or take steps backwards.

It is easy for the brain to resort to the cloud that a trauma or illness might have installed in you, falling into despair or numbness, and there is truly nothing worse. Isolation is not the key, though it is most commonly a side effect of any of these negative experiences. Despite contrary belief, this leads you to an opportunity to get help. To find help within friends, family, and professionals. They can only help you understand that although you may not always be able to feel it, there is so much love and beauty to this world. There will ALWAYS be people there for your support. If you don’t feel this way, go out and make new friends, talk to your therapist, reach out to adults you may trust, or even kind strangers. The world has more love to offer than it seems.

Optimism is tough. You can be fighting for your body and thoughts to be positive, and have an outlook on life that shows light. However, your brain and body may be inflicting darkness, or feelings of nothingness, completely out of your control.

Optimism is also a savior. The more you put this fight into your brain, the more you convince yourself that you are going to make it, that everything will be okay, the more likely it is for your body to start behaving this way. Get up and force yourself to make plans, to do anything you once enjoyed or might find joy in.

The world may be falling a part in many aspects, and so are some humans that occupy it. However, everybody is still on this earth giving their full efforts to find the ultimate goal, happiness. It should not be overthought; it should not become the only purpose one strives for. It should be a feeling that comes through every day activities, thoughts, conversations. Positivity can help motivate the brain to feel that happiness, to appreciate the times it is felt, to hope for more positive outcomes and experiences. These can come from setting goals, making friends, loving, giving, being active, showing compassion, pursuing passions, treating oneself, or even physically seeing the beauty this world has to offer.
Life is too short to not love with everything you are. Giving with little return is tough, but you are tougher and have years to be given what you give.

Together, with optimism, have those around you help you rewrite your story and your future, and remember that it is okay to not be okay. There are billions that have struggled, there are millions that are fighting to overcome, and there are millions that have overcome and become a light and inspiration to us all.

You are never alone, and it will be worth it when you reach the end of that tunnel or even when you begin to see the light.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or any other kind of addiction, the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

 

Alcohol Abuse: Binge Drinking

By Hannah Pierce

Binge drinking is the most common and deadly form of alcohol abuse in the U.S. but it is also preventable. It is defined as drinking to bring a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. This usually occurs when a woman consumes four drinks and a man consumes five drinks in two hours.

Binge drinking can happen across a lifespan but it is most common among people between the ages of 18 and 34. Many high school and college students below the age of 21 report binge drinking on occasion. It is a form of alcohol abuse that is “drinking to get drunk” rather than just having a couple drinks.

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems including:

• Alcohol poisoning
• Unintentional injuries (car accidents, falls, burns)
• Sexually transmitted diseases
• Cancer (breast, mouth, liver, esophagus, colon)
• Memory and learning problems
• Poor pregnancy outcomes (miscarriage, stillborn, fetal alcohol syndrome)
• Alcohol dependence

Binge drinking can be prevented by:

• Increasing taxes on alcohol and other pricing strategies
• Limiting the number of places that sell alcohol
• Restricting the hours that alcohol can be sold
• Holding retailers responsible for harms caused by illegal distribution of alcohol to minors or customers who are inebriated
• Consultation and counseling for alcohol abuse

If you or someone you know may be binge drinking or abusing alcohol, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Please contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices at (201)368-3700 or (212)722-1920 to set up an appointment, or visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com for more information.
https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Anna Straus

What is PTSD and why does it occur? Two people may experience the same event, such as a car accident. One person is shaken up but recovers in a day or two; the other is consistently plagued with anxiety and stress at even the thought of getting in a car. Psychology supposes that something in the brain can get ‘stuck’ when a person processes a traumatic event.

PTSD is characterized by high levels of distress, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks and bad dreams. As a result people may avoid anything that slightly reminds them of the traumatic event, become emotionally numb or depressed and withdraw from otherwise enjoyed activities.

People at high risk for PTSD are people who are likely victims or witnesses of traumatic scenes: war veterans and domestic violence victims being among the most prone, although people with otherwise happy lives can also experience PTSD. The type or nature of traumatic event does not necessarily determine whether someone will get PTSD, rather, PTSD happens because of a person’s way of reacting to and attempts to ‘get over’ the event.

When left untreated the symptoms of PTSD can cause a multitude of secondary psychological and behavioral symptoms. People may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their PTSD symptoms. They may experience severe depression because of the negative impact that their PTSD stress has on all other aspects of their life.

A variety of treatments have been shown to improve PTSD symptoms. The efficacy of the treatments depending on multiple factors. Some research shows that a chemical imbalance occurs in PTSD patients, and medication appears to stabilize this. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapies also show promising results. These therapies help a patient confront their traumatic experience in a safe setting and reprocess it in a more effective way.

If you believe that you or a loved one has PTSD, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

 

PTSD-Trauma[1]

Relationships: Abusive Relationships: Why We Repeat the Past

“Why didn’t you just walk away?” “How could you let this happen to yourself again?” These questions are not uncommon for survivors of domestic abuse to hear. When a person has numerous maladaptive relationships, it leaves them and others baffled. Why on earth would someone put themselves in an abusive situation again? The answer to this lies in a psychological phenomenon called “repetition compulsion.” In repetition compulsion, a person either puts themselves into a situation where abuse is likely to happen again, or they reenact the past situation with another partner. Below are some theorized reasons why people repeat the past in their relationships.

  1. Change can be a scary or anxiety-provoking thing. Most of us stick to what we know, even if it means regularly dating partners who are physically and/or emotionally abusive.
  2. Some think that by putting themselves in the same situation, they can change the outcome this time. They think that they will be able to master this relationship, and this will make up for the last bad one.
  3. We might believe that if we act in just the right way, our partner’s behavior will change and they will treat us right.
  4. We begin to internalize the beliefs that we are unlovable and deserve to be mistreated.
  5.  Unconsciously or consciously, we seek out abuse from others due to conditioning.
  6. “Winning” an argument with an abusive partner may lead us to believe that we are able to do this again and the abuse will stop.

Despite how terrible the situation may be, know that you are not alone, there is help available, and there are resources to begin the healing process.

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Further reading: “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

Source: Esposito, Linda. “Why Do We Repeat the Past in Our Relationships?” Psychology Today. Sussex Pulishers, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016

By: Scout H

How to Recognize a Sociopath

Sociopaths: devious, controlling, cunning. If you ever come across someone with this toxic antisocial personality disorder, it is important to know how to recognize the signs for your own personal safety. These people repeatedly disregard the feelings of others while seeking only to please themselves. They are unable to have the ability to organize their emotions and therefore have no shame about their actions, regardless of how it makes those around them feel. Often, they find internal gratification from hurting others. Below are some warning signs to help you identify a sociopath:

  • A discrepancy between what the person says, and what the person does
  • Making excuses for themselves when they are caught in a lie
  • Changing the subject when they are caught in a lie
  • Beating around the bush when asked questions about the lie you caught them in or not answering them directly
  • Knowing others’ vulnerabilities and manipulating them for personal gain
  • Ability to understand laws and rules, but being unable to understand emotionally why those rules are in place
  • No feelings of shame when they know they have hurt other people
  • Repeatedly putting themselves in situations which could get them arrested
  • Disregarding the safety of themselves or others
  • Constant irritability, hostility, and antagonism
  • Performing cruel and gruesome acts on animals

If these warning signs sound like they apply to yourself or someone you know, it is very important to start therapy. With the help of a medical professional, the combination of medication and psychotherapy can help people with this personality disorder.

The psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722 1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources:

“Sociopath X – ALL ABOUT SOCIOPATHS – Sociopathic Personality Disorder and Types.” D for Depression Depressive Psychological Disorders. Depression D, 2010. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.

By: Scout H

Emotional Abuse: The 10 Common Signs

sibling-abuse[1]

When a person is being emotionally abused in a relationship, it is not always easy to tell. In some ways emotional abuse can be more devastating than physical abuse due to the victims’ tendency to blame him or herself. In an emotionally abusive relationship, the abuser systematically controls their partner by undermining their confidence, worthiness, growth, trust, or emotions by provoking feelings of fear, shame, or humiliation. There are 10 primary signs that distinguish an emotionally abusive relationship which are as follows:

  1. You feel as if you are walking on eggshells around your partner
    • You never know how your partner will react, so you have to be careful with anything you do or say
  2. Arguments tend to escalate quickly and have no end point
  3. There are intense moments of feeling good about the relationship, when your partner makes overly sincere apologies or attempts to make up for bad behavior.
    • The victim clings to hope for the relationship when these moments occur
  4. Your partner will let his/her anger out at you for something that is no fault of yours
  5. Your partner is possessive and jealous, and will speak badly about your friends—especially the ones who are of the opposite sex
    • Your partner tries to isolate you from friends and family.
  6. Your partner cripples your self-esteem through humiliation about anything you try to do or accomplish
  7. Your partner has a two-faced personality
    • Your partner’s personality confuses you by alternating between acting very caring and loving, and/or very hurtful and mean.
  8. Your partner emotionally manipulates you into sexual activities that you do not like.
  9. Your partner will bring up past mistakes as a reminder of all that you have done wrong in the relationship
  10. Your achievements are minimized, while his/her achievements are glorified

If you believe that you or a loved one is in an emotionally abusive relationship, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/201302/emotional-abuse

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/02/20/signs-of-emotional-abuse/

http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/Galleries/9-Signs-You-Are-in-an-Emotionally-Abusive-Relationship.aspx

By: Margalit I. Herzfeld