The ABCs Of Trauma
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”-Victor E. Frankl
Many children and adults are exposed to traumatic life events each day. A traumatic event is one that threatens injury, death, or physical integrity of self or others and also causes horror, terror, or helplessness at the time it occurs. The types of situations that could produce trauma for a person vary, ranging from exposure to physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect, to parental separation or divorce, or an incarcerated household member. It is possible that even years later, one could unconsciously be dealing with exposure to trauma. Often, traumatic events may be normalized in households and communities for a variety of reasons. Guilt, shame, fear, generational trauma narratives, other cultural factors or simply confusion about what happened, may govern how families or individuals address trauma. The Adverse Childhood Experience Scale (ACES) is a great tool that measures the relationship between being exposed to traumatic events and a variety of known risk factors for disease, disability, and early mortality, and can be a first step towards awareness.
The effects of painful past learning are frequently manifested through our responses, relationships and the life results we produce daily. It is important to note that reactions displayed by children and adolescents who have been exposed to traumatic events may differ from that of adults. Common potential challenges for all age groups may include sleep disturbances, suicide attempts or high-risk sexual behaviors. However, behaviors in children such as separation anxiety, irritability, reduced concentration or decline in schoolwork could be signs of trauma. For adults, negative physical outcomes, like poor dental health, or even fetal mortality may signal exposure to trauma.
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” Wayne W. Dyer
If you feel that you or someone you love has been exposed to trauma and are struggling, there is support for you! Here’s a few ways to cope, regain a sense of self and live a healthy, happy life. Connect with a mental health professional. By drawing on existing strengths and resources of the individual, family, and community, mental health professionals can help to reduce stress and foster the use of existing adaptive coping strategies. Be willing to heal, because the desire to feel better can be your best ally on the road to recovery. Accept support from loved ones. Incorporate movement into your daily routine. Practice mindfulness and meditation, to quiet the chatter of the mind. Above all, redefine your trauma.
T Trust yourself, family, friends and professionals to support you
R Recovery is a process that takes time and patience
A Attend to yourself with love and self-care
U Understand emotional trauma is not your fault
M Meditation, mindfulness, and movement are essential for healing
A Accept that you are a whole person