Feeling phobias


Coping Strategies: When Solutions Become The Problem

All these strategies work in pretty much the same way. The purpose of the strategies is to avoid the feelings which are attached to the memories of the abuse.

Almost all these strategies result in an over-avoidance of fear. In one way, the fear of bad feelings is like a phobia. Phobias tend to get broader over time. For example, a man who is assaulted in a public place first begins avoiding that place, then over time any place where there are people like the ones who assaulted him, then any public place with people, then any place outdoors, and eventually he finds it difficult to leave the house.

‘Rewarding’ a phobia by always giving in to the fear it generates, makes it grow. We sometimes call this ‘feeding the phobia’. This in turn leads to an ever-increasing difficulty in facing fear, anxiety, or stress. Most of the strategies we have described can lead to a survivor having a very low tolerance of stress, which in turn makes life more difficult, or shuts off options or opportunities which would otherwise be open to the survivor.