Holistic healing approaches can be incredibly beneficial when addressing the complex effects of childhood domestic violence. Simple practices, such as grounding breathwork, gentle movement, nourishing self-care rituals, and nurturing non-violent and non-judgmental approaches can be tailored to service-users’ unique needs. These can help improve mental, physical, and spiritual health after experiencing trauma and serve as gentle companions on this journey.
Psychology of Healing: Unveiling Childhood Trauma’s Role in Breaking Intergenerational Cycles of Violence
Childhood domestic violence (CDV) is the presence of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse within the home between intimate partners, impacting children who witness or (in)directly experience such violence. Growing up in a toxic environment profoundly affects mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Exposure to violence leaves deep emotional scars, leading to trauma and vulnerability to various adverse effects. The lack of a supportive network from caregivers further isolates individuals impacted, often causing them to internalize their pain. They retreat inwardly, attempting to shield themselves from reliving distressing memories repeatedly. However, this isolation often means continually confronting the emotional and physical chaos present at home. This leaves them feeling trapped and hopeless, as the toxicity becomes overwhelming and all-consuming, inevitably negatively impacting their brain development.
These individuals, accustomed to the pervasive aggression in their formative years, often develop emotional dysregulation such as dissociation and a numbed response to such behavior. Instead of recognizing it as a threat, they might oddly find a sense of familiarity or comfort in such environments. This makes it difficult to interpret the warning signs. This normalization perpetuates a distressing cycle. These individuals, statistically more inclined, either become perpetrators of abuse themselves or find themselves in abusive relationships as adults. The normalization of violence from childhood can distort their understanding of healthy relationships. It makes it challenging to break free from this destructive cycle without intervention and support.
By addressing the root cause of trauma, which at many times stems from childhood, one is capable of achieving lasting healing. By breaking the cycle, and preventing the intergenerational transmission of violence, one can foster a future free from repeated patterns of harm. #YouAreMoreThanYouKnow
Nurturing Recovery from CDV Through a Wellness Lens
The interconnectedness of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being underscores how childhood domestic violence affects both psychological and physical health due to chronic stress. Trauma-informed care, mindfulness, meditation, nutrition, nature-based therapy and energy healing, community support, and cultural/spiritual practices offer diverse avenues for intervention and support through holistic healing. These avenues can create safe spaces, foster self-awareness, and aid in emotional processing. They can also promote wellness, and provide a sense of identity and connection for those impacted by domestic violence.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as CDV significantly increase the likelihood of various risks affecting an individual’s development, neurobiology, physiology, and mental health throughout their life. These experiences impact attachment, socioemotional growth, and neurobiological aspects, influencing social skills, emotional development, relationships, and perception of the world. Cumulative effects of neglect and adverse experiences may harm long-term physical and mental health, potentially leading to underdeveloped frontal lobes, hormone dysregulation, and impairments in language and motor skills. These factors collectively impact an individual’s internal working model, hindering their ability to process and express experiences (Vasivela & Petermann, 2016; Obadina, 2013; Naughton et al., 2013)
To help support survivors manage their wellbeing and prevent re-traumatization, it’s essential to adopt trauma-informed care. The key principles of trauma-informed care include safety, trust, choice, collaboration, empowerment and cultural consideration. Creating safe spaces and employing practices that consider the trauma experienced by these individuals requires incorporating compassion and mindfulness and can also include utilizing grounding techniques and sensory-based interventions.
Mindfulness, Meditation, and Therapies:
Practices like mindfulness and meditation can help children and adults affected by domestic violence to regulate their emotions, reduce stress, and increase self-awareness. These practices can aid in processing trauma and promoting inner healing. Mantra meditation is one of Ayurveda’s predominant psychological therapies offered to help calm the mind and emotions. These are pure, simple sounds which vibrate with the body at certain frequencies and points. It helps improve mood, neurovegetative, and cognitive symptoms of depression; it is an aid and tool for self-regulation in situational crises.
Additionally, the use of creative expression can be utilized as a therapeutic tool. Art therapy, music therapy, dance, and other forms of expressive arts can help individuals process emotions, communicate their experiences, and promote healing. Several benefits of nature-based therapies, such as ecotherapy or spending time in natural settings, aids in reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and fostering a sense of connection and healing and complementary therapies like yoga, pranayama and massage focus on restoring balance and releasing stored trauma in the body, promoting relaxation and healing.
Nutrition and Wellness:
A balanced diet consisting of eating light nutrients that are fresh, natural, organic and whole, regular exercise, and adequate sleep can support the body’s natural healing processes. These also contribute to overall well-being. Aligning ourselves with the natural cycles of the seasons can have a profound impact on our well-being. Embracing the rhythm of nature means acknowledging the changes in daylight and weather, and adapting our routines accordingly.
During the winter season, when the days are shorter and colder, it’s beneficial to sync our schedules with the sun’s pattern. Waking up with the sunrise allows us to make the most of natural light. It also energizes ourselves for the day ahead. Warm drinks like herbal teas or warm water with lemon can help us stay warm and hydrated, nurturing our bodies from within. Moreover, the winter season can be a time for more rest and reflection. With longer nights, it’s natural to feel a bit more inclined to slow down.
Taking the opportunity for extra rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation can support our overall well-being during this time. Incorporating these seasonal adjustments into our daily lives helps us feel more connected to nature. It also allows us to honor our mind, body and spirit’s needs in different climates and times of the year.
Community, Social Support Networks, and Identity:
It’s crucial to recognize protective factors that can significantly impact recovery. Building connections and seeking support from others are integral steps in the healing journey. A non-abusive partner or supportive family members play pivotal roles in fostering stability and coherence within an individual’s internal working models, significantly impacting their developmental environment. Moreover, the broader community provides a crucial foundation for healing. Social support networks and a sense of identity derived from cultural traditions, rituals, and spiritual beliefs offer profound comfort and guidance. Embracing these elements not only cultivates a strong sense of identity but also establishes connections that reinforce resilience. Creating a supportive environment through these connections is instrumental in aiding the healing process for those impacted by childhood domestic violence.
Holistic Tips: A Compassionate, Non-Violent, and Non-Judgmental Approach Towards Evolving Post-CDV
As an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor with a background in mental health, the author extends a gentle hand. She offers holistic tips and guidance to aid in the process of recovery. Within the realm of holistic wellness, she advocates for a compassionate approach—an embrace that acknowledges the depth of pain and the complexity of healing. It’s important to tenderly hold space for yourself, understanding that speaking kindly to oneself isn’t always effortless. Toxic positivity finds no refuge here; instead, we offer a serene sanctuary for authenticity and self-compassion. Know that healing isn’t linear. It’s an intricate journey marked by waves and it’s okay to navigate it at your own pace. #ItsOkayToNotBeOkay
Non-violent Communication (NVC) is a concept based on the principle of Ahimsa. This is the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart (Rosenberg, M.B., 2015). It reaffirms the notion that all is interconnected: connection between thoughts, emotions, bodily reactions, and behavior. Utilizing NVC provides a crucial avenue for individuals affected by CDV. It breaks the cycle of aggression, fostering healthier relationships built on empathy, understanding, and peaceful dialogue.
A non-judgmental approach acknowledges the diverse cultural and personal backgrounds of survivors. It creates a safe space where individuals can navigate their experiences without fear of judgment or cultural stigma. Embracing cultural beliefs and spirituality becomes crucial in understanding how these factors shape one’s perception of the violence experienced and the healing process.
By fostering an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion, survivors are encouraged to explore their unique reasons for change without feeling invalidated or misunderstood. This approach supports their journey by respecting their cultural context. It also empowers them to navigate challenges, and foster their self-efficacy in addressing the impacts of childhood domestic violence. The approach recognizes that each individual’s healing journey is unique. It respects their diverse backgrounds, allowing room for growth, development, and the empowerment needed for lasting change.
A solution-focused approach in the context of CDV actively involves identifying desired outcomes of healing from violence. It also includes leveraging available resources from both within (strengths) and outwards (community), and nurturing motivation through recognizing progress of overcoming trauma. By emphasizing collaboration and fostering a therapeutic alliance, this approach empowers survivors to take incremental steps towards healing and breaking the cycle of violence. It encourages the exploration of positive changes. It also empowers individuals impacted by childhood domestic violence to shape their journey toward recovery with a supportive partnership, whether it is achieved by themselves or with the help of others.
Integrating holistic healing into discussions about CDV acknowledges the multifaceted nature of healing. It recognizes that individuals may benefit from a combination of psychological, physical, social, and spiritual support to facilitate recovery and resilience.
Healing Holistically as a two-fold process:
Childhood domestic violence can deeply influence an individual’s perception of themselves and their environment. The environment, often characterized by trauma and negativity, shapes how they view the world and themselves. Healing involves a two-fold process: creating a balanced, healthy environment that fosters positivity and acknowledging the importance of inner acceptance. This includes unlearning negative beliefs imparted by the abusive environment, fostering self-compassion, and promoting rational self-talk to break the cycle of internalized negativity stemming from CDV.
By prioritizing self-care, setting healthy boundaries, and nurturing a positive inner dialogue, individuals can reshape their environment internally and externally. This in turn will foster a healthier, more empowering space for growth and healing.
The light in me honors the light in you.
About the author: Rithika Yogeshwarun received a Master of Science in Global Mental Health and Society and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She is a certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor. And as an integrative healthcare provider, Rithika incorporates holistic healing modalities and nature-based solutions to provide a community based and ecological approach to health management. She desires in increasing the support for self-management, self-help, and self-healing approaches. She strives to create supportive and inclusive environments, and promotes positive healthy behaviors, which will help individuals overcome mental health challenges locally and globally. Feel free to get in touch with her to learn more about the topic of holistic healing on social media and/or email to schedule 1:1 consultations<