Dr. Sylvia Gearing reveals the devastating effects of trauma (particularly infidelity trauma) on women.
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In 1991, Anita Hill was called to testify in Justice Clarence Thomas’s historic confirmation hearings. Recently, his wife Virginia Thomas called Professor Hill and requested an apology. Even though she is never likely to receive it, she’s still holding on to the events after all these years. So why do women hold on to traumatic events for so long, even 19 years? We do know that it’s not easy to let go of trauma related to any kind of marital betrayal, even accusations of sexual harassment. Obviously, Mrs. Thomas did not and does not believe her husband’s accuser, but she still cares enough after all these years to request an apology. Most of us we concluded that she should have moved on long ago, which begs the question, why now? Women begin revisiting traumatic events when they're trying to move on. Just thinking about it can make her feel powerless. We know that the brain encodes traumatic events much more vividly than neutral events. The same type of helplessness and powerlessness usually compels people to start obsessing about past unhealed emotional whims. In this particular case, Mrs. Thomas has witnessed the very public testimony of others concerning her husband’s confirmation hearings. That must have been disturbing, even if she didn’t believe them. Deep emotional wounds were deflected and they are still obviously with her. When people start revisiting trauma, they want to rewrite the old story with a new ending. Please make sure to watch part two of this segment, “The Continuing Trauma of Infidelity”. For more information and tips, please follow me on Twitter @ DrGearing, friend me at GearingUp on Facebook and visit my blog at GearingUp.com. I'm Dr. Sylvia Gearing.