Man with PTSD leaning his head against a wall

In this podcast, Aubrey and Mags (under her previous screen name Monkey) talk about PTSD; everything from what it is, to how it can manifest.

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“When we’re traumatised routinely and repeatedly, there are physiological symptoms that go along with that. So most people listening to this probably have (or have had) gastrointestinal problems that you can’t seem to solve, no matter what it is. You can have severe sleep problems—either you want to sleep too much or you can’t sleep at all. I tend to fall at the extreme end of, “Whoo! Yay, me! I got four whole hours last night!”

One of the other things that I’ve personally experienced in my PTSD is something called cyclic tachycardia. Cyclic tachycardia will come out of absolutely nowhere. I could be sitting at my desk working on something that had nothing to do with anything—nothing legal, nothing about my ex-husband, nothing—and all of a sudden my blood pressure would shoot out the roof and my heart would start to race. And there was no conscious trigger for it. There was nothing.

But these are just physiological things. If you could imagine an unregulated car engine, and you know…the timing belt comes off—or whatever happens when a car engine does that—and it doesn’t know what to do. Sometimes…it’ll rev up for no reason, and it’ll slow down. So it’s kind of the same thing, your body is trying to normalise itself in an abnormal environment, an abnormal situation.

So [this is] the problem that we find with understanding PTSD in the context of surviving abuse—especially non-physical abuse, because it’s not so obvious. If you’re beaten as a child, or if you’re physically attacked as an adult, that is obvious trauma. People can get their head around that. The problem is that we are in a day and age…—well, probably have been for decades and decades and decades—we don’t have a trauma-informed society. So even though people have heard of PTSD, a lot of them may have heard it first as “Battle Fatigue” or “Combat Stress”, and correlate it to war, to soldiers who’ve been in combat. And then as we’ve sort of gotten more information, we understand, “Oh, okay, people who are victims of violent crime, sexual assault, things like that, they develop PTSD.” This can happen, that can happen. And so there’s a little bit more understanding. But the problem is that unless they’ve experienced it, people can’t understand that there is massive trauma that can be caused in the absence of any physical violence.

– Aubrey

Links to Resources

  • And also important to remember is that “violence” does not have to include physical violence. Remind yourself again of the Definition of Domestic Violence.
  • The Podcast episode that Aubrey refers to at the beginning of this episode is here.

Listen To More Episodes Here

we love to read your comments below

While I may technically be the Director here at SwanWaters, my unofficial title is Healing Cheerleader! I’m a survivor of childhood emotional abuse and workplace bullying. And believe me when I say that I’ve walked the walk when it comes to healing from trauma. I firmly believe that we can undo some of the damage that abuse has done to us, and learn the necessary skills to handle life and all it brings us.

Latest posts by Mags (see all)

Aubrey Cole

Aubrey Cole

I survived a quarter century of psychological, emotional, economic and sexual abuse. When I got out, I vowed to help others do the same and founded the Emotional Abuse Survivors Network project in 2012. Now, I offer hope and healing to others on their journey as they rediscover themselves. My forthcoming books, Bodies in the Basement and Define Winning, chronicle my experiences, escape, and recovery. There is nothing so special about me that others can't emerge and thrive.

PTSD really is a normal response to trauma. In this PTSD podcast, Aubrey and Mags everything from what it is, to how it can manifest and how it relates to the experiences of toxic relationships, dysfunctional childhoods, and abuse.

PTSD really is a normal response to trauma. In this PTSD podcast, Aubrey and Mags everything from what it is, to how it can manifest and how it relates to the experiences of toxic relationships, dysfunctional childhoods, and abuse.


  1. Petunia

    October 8, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    This set of podcasts was very informative. Have the distinction between Intra-traumatic stress and Post-traumatic stress was an eye-opener for me. Some of those who love me simply don’t get why I’m ‘falling apart’ physically now, after the law suits have ended and a relative calm has begun to return to my daily life. I feel pressure from family and myself to just’ get on with it’, ‘hitch up my boot-strings’ and rise from the flames like the phoenix, blah, blah, blah, – like they’d seen me do in other significantly less traumatic situations before. Having my physical ailments treated like weakness is certainly not helping me feel strong again.

    It’s the calling cards you mentioned that keep me on his invisible leash, the subtle stalking and the innumerable triggers that keep me shackled.

  2. Aubrey Cole

    October 10, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Oh, my darling Petunia,

    I look back now and realize that those times I felt like I was the only person on the planet experiencing this, I wish I had been! I would not want anyone else to experience this torture.

    Over the course of my healing, I finally came to realize a couple of things that address what you mentioned. First, NO ONE gets to vote on MY experience. Well-meaning people (such as you describe with your family) want you to “go on” and live your life. While that’s a great thought, there is a very specific grief and healing process you must go through in order to do that. Using an analogy that Monkey recent brought up in her writing, would they have the same attitude if you were fighting an illness or injury that they could understand? (Broken bone, accident, cancer, etc.) Secondly, when I got out of the “just keep the peace” mode and decided to adopt the “f–k you” mode, I empowered myself to not let his craziness get to me. Basically, I moved from victim thinking to survivor thinking. What I mean by that is, once I finally stood up to him and dared him to make good on his threats and intimidation, he folded like the pitiful bully he is. Thus, every single attempt he has made to completely destroy me has failed. Miserably. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. I lost all my financial resources and my health. BUT…I claimed a level of independence I had never had before. So when looking back at all he had already done, I thought, “You know what? I’M STILL STANDING! You do NOT have the power to destroy me.”

    I think so often we are stuck in the mindset given to us by the abuser and feel as though we are living in a box. When I defied that box, i.e., refused to accept his definition of me, I truly made progress in my healing. No, I was NOT “crazy”, “lazy”, “a terrible mother”, etc etc etc. In fact, once I got my head clear, I realized it was quite the opposite and he used that to keep me doubtful and controlled.

    Keep the evidence he leaves, for sure. You may need to demonstrate the things he has done (look up the article “Chaos Theory” by Lisa Hockett on, in order to legally protect yourself. As for your family, simply explain that this is an experience you are glad that they cannot understand, and that the best way they can help you is to not assume they know what’s best.


  3. Petunia

    October 12, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Thanks so much, Aubrey for your response.
    Although broke, a bit fatter, wrinklier and feeling quite a bit like the ugly duckling… I too am still standing. I realize that I am fiercely determined to stop the cycle – I can’t heal my mom, I can’t erase the last 15 years, but I can dedicate myself to getting healthy and raising a wonderful daughter. Unfortunately she spends 50% of her time with my ex and his arsenal of flying monkeys, so I keep my distance and focus on her and my time together.

    I try to use humor find the positives in this new life. For example, I noticed after a period of 6 weeks of incredible hair-loss…that it was the grays that fell out!! Ha ha, I thought, maybe this is like the lizard regenerating its tail; my hair will come back full and red and belie the grueling years that have passed in such a confusing blur.

    Another thing I and my DBF have observed over the last five years is that my N-ex’s signature not only has changed from when we first met, but it changes almost weekly…we see it on legal docs, my daughter’s school agenda, etc. And, like many Europeans, he’s got a whole pile of names and surnames…he uses different combinations of them when he signs off an email. This behavior is so peculiar, yet so obvious. It helps me think, ‘well, hell, I’ve suffered, but I still know my name!’

    Here’s to the transition from victim to survivor.
    Take care,


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