If you've been involved in a high-conflict relationship, you're probably familiar with feelings of shame, guilt, and self-blame. Perhaps you're ruminating about the relationship and feel hopeless and despair. You may even be suicidal.
If the stress of a high conflict goes on for many years or is very intense, you may have a variant of PTSD called complex post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). It's not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, but it is widely accepted: some people see it as a combination of PTSD and the Stockholm Syndrome.
Clinical psychologist Dr Joseph M Carver, PhD, who has a number of great articles on his website says in an online discussion that, "Every victim of abuse experiences some, if not multiple, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Carver writes:
[T]hese symptoms linger many years; some for a lifetime. Everyone knows this but it's rarely bought up...During our period of abuse, the brain collects thousands of memories that contain details of our abusive experiences and the feelings (horror, terror, pain, etc.) made at that time. In what we call "traumatic recollection," any similar experience in the future will recall the emotional memory of the abuse, forcing us to relive the event in detail and feeling.
Most people think of PTSD as happening only to people who have been in extreme circumstances, such as war veterans. However, in her book Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (1997) Judith Herman describes a subtype of PTSD she calls complex post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD symptoms can be grouped into three categories:
1. Re-experiencing symptoms:
2. Avoidance symptoms:
3. Hyperarousal symptoms:
Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
You can find a full list here.
This website says that Herman divides recovery from CPTSD into three stages: establishing safety, mourning what was lost, and reconnecting to society