The pains of a horrible relationship can show up in more places than just your emotional well-being. Insider spoke to licensed therapist Shannon Thomas about the various ways abusive relationships show up in your body.
“I don’t know of a client yet who hasn’t experienced some sort of body reaction to being in an abusive relationship,” Thomas said. “There are varying degrees, it’s a wide spectrum, but every single person had some physical manifestation of the abuse.” licensed therapist Shannon Thomas.
Thomas describes that some people in unhealthy relationships can go through trauma bonding.
“There’s a high level of adrenaline and cortisol going on,” Thomas said. “And when you have that combination of a chemical rush in the body, the body is going to react to it.”
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“The high moments feel really good but when those downward spirals start, the gaslighting or the silent treatment, the body can go into a crash,” Thomas said. “And it’s that up and down and up and down that wears on survivors.”
Thomas explains that negative emotional environments can affect us just like toxic natural environments would.
“In a hidden toxic environment, I always correlate it to clear poison in water, you don’t see it until you become sick,” Thomas told Insider. “We can rationalise our thoughts, we can say it’s just because we’re working a lot, or because you have a lot on. But the body isn’t going to make these excuses.”
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“Even after the relationship has ended it can take time to rebuild from the hole in the valley the mind and body went into during the relationship,” Thomas said. “The relationship can be over, and the survivor is still working on their endurance, and getting their physical health back.”
Are you becoming more forgetful? Unhealthy relationship fog can do that. “I’ve seen a lot of clients that have a very difficult time reading books or processing new information or holding information or memories,” said Thomas. “When they’re in the middle of the abusive relationship, these functions are really hard.”