Complex Post Traumatic Disorder and PTSD safety procedures include actions for children, spouses, and the CPTSD or PTSD sufferer. A CPTSD safety plan is necessary. Due to the violent nature of some of the symptoms associated with CPTSD and PTSD, it is important to put into place a safety plan as soon as possible. This is similar to an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency. There are times when the only action necessary is to separate the family from someone having a CPTSD or PTSD episode. When this happens at home, my husband will go into our bedroom until his episode passes. Other times, either he will leave the home or I will take the children somewhere safe. I check in with my husband periodically to see where he is at with grounding himself. If his behavior is violent, aggressive, or abusive in any way, the important thing to do is to go somewhere safer.
Many times it is counter-productive to leave a person in CPTSD or PTSD episodes alone. Your safety plan may involve other people. I have family or friends help with the children. Our children have been shielded from 95% of all episodes. Because I am his caregiver, I have been exposed to 95% of his CPTSD episodes. The other 5% explains instances where I have met my max as a caregiver and requested his parents to step in and care for him for a couple of days. In these instances, I explain to my children that Daddy has been bitten by the angry bug but will get better and be home very soon.
CPTSD Safety – A night I’ll Never Forget
Each member of our family has different needs when it comes to safety. There was a time when my husband’s rage was out of control and it was not safe at home. Because I had not heard from my husband all morning, I came home on my lunch break to grab water and to check on him. His mother was sitting in her car parked out front of our home. I parked next to her and she said that my husband was in a bad way. I interpreted it as him having bad anxiety or something. But I didn’t realize how severe until I walked through our front door.
When I opened the door he was punching holes in the wall, throwing and breaking meaningful items, and screaming at the top of his lungs. He kept repeating that I was going to leave him and that I did not care about him anymore. None of this was true but it was a reality in his own mind at the time. His mother heard the screaming and came to the door. I was trying to leave after getting my bottle of water and he was forcing the door shut on me, blocking me from leaving. He grabbed me by the arms and forced me away from the door. I left as soon as his mother opened the door.
That Night Continued…
When I got home, I cut out pink hearts with construction paper and taped them over any holes in the walls where my husband punched through. Then I cleaned up the mess. When my youngest child (6 yrs old) arrived, I had to explain that Dad was bitten by the angry bug again and that he would be with their Aunt for the evening. She was upset and was up half the night with anxiety and worry about Daddy. Regardless of any plan in place, the children have the hardest time. But separation from a CPTSD episode is the best thing for the family.
My husband returned home in a calmer manner. But within an hour his symptoms took him back into another CPTSD attack. This time, the Fire Department was called to come assess him and possible place a medical hold on him. This was due to the severity of his condition with the anger, violence, and talk of suicide.
Extended Family Experiences
The pink construction paper hearts cover up painful memories. My husband asked me weeks later what the heart was doing on the door. CPTSD sufferers rarely remember anything that takes place during an episode. I explained that he had punched a hole in the door during a bad episode. And ,this was my way of replacing the pain with love. Six months later, it is still hanging up on the door.
My husband stayed at his sister’s house that night as part of our CPTSD safety precautions. This was the first time she had ever experienced my husband’s CPTSD symptoms first hand. Not that I would ever want to expose anyone to these episodes but it really opened her eyes to my home. She now knew how we all suffered – especially her younger brother. His family used to say things like “Just get over it” or “Why can’t you control yourself”. Now, I feel they actually understand more in depth what CPTSD looks like from the inside-out.
PTSD Safety Precautions
This lists different measures my family takes when an episode arises:
- For the CPTSD safety plan, set these up in advance with your CPTSD sufferer
- Develop a “Time-Out” between you and your loved one with CPTSD or PTSD
- This is best discussed when your loved one is of sound mind
- Determine when it is appropriate to initiate the time-out
- Define a specific time period for a time-out. Ours is ten minutes, then we check back in with each other to see if a longer time-out is needed. We use ten minute intervals.
- Protect your children in the home
- Predetermine a safe place in the home and have activities pre-planned to do with your child during an episode
- Take your children to the park or to run errands
- Ensure someone is with your loved one with CPTSD at all times
- Their mother or family member as long as they are educated and equipped with what to do during an episode
- Predetermine if they will be in your home or if your loved on with CPTSD will be at their home. Sometimes another location would be best
- Have a plan A, B, and C
- Communicate to each person in your PTSD or CPTSD support system. Explaine the CPTSD safety plan and what the plan includes.
You can make your own safety plan or use mine. Either way, you should have something set up a head of time because CPTSD and PTSD don’t just go away. Each episode will subside but the duration or severity is hard to detect in advance. And remember, discuss and build your plan with your loved one who has CPTSD or PTSD when they are calm and receptive.
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