Trauma

There’s little argument that unless you are one of the elite 1%…we live in very trying times. We hear terms like trauma and PTSD thrown around by television doctors, physiologists, news people and talk show hosts, but do we really know what these terms mean? Do we have the slightest idea the toll it takes on a person and their family experiencing trauma? Hopefully not, because that means you or someone you love has experienced the roller coaster ride of a chaotic life and you were along for the ride.

The Hate effect that has swept the country in the last few years has caused these diseases to not only increase in number but manifest themselves in intensity. It may surprise you to know that victims of crime, soldiers exposed to battle and migrants trekking a 1000 miles in an attempt to provide for their family’s welfare and safety all experience these same identical symptoms. We will mainly explore trauma through the eyes of a victim of a violent crime, as we all have been victimized in some shape or form in our life and may be better able to relate to this example. Let’s begin with out sample case.

Any crime victim will experience the trauma of victimization as an aftermath of experiencing the crime. Although outwardly seemingly unhurt from the incident the victim will suffer a tremendous amount of physical and psychological trauma. The primary effects of the experience can be generally grouped into 3 main categories: physical injury, financial injury and emotional injury. There are also possibilities of experiencing secondary injuries.

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Trauma Issues

  • The physical injury is usually apparent such as cuts, bruises, fractured limbs, although internal injuries may also be present depending on the incident. It’s not unusual for physical injuries to be accompanied by severe fatigue, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much and loss or gain of appetite.

  • Victims suffer financially when their belongings, money, jewelry etc are stolen or damaged. They also suffer financially when insurance does not cover incurred expenses like hospitalization, medicine or funeral costs.

  • Emotional injuries may be the worse result yet of a crime. Not only is the victim affected immediately, but there may be long term problems for the victim and their family.

Some medical books describes a victim’s reaction to a crime as the Crisis Reaction. Most victims will react differently to the crime depending on the level of personal violation they feel they incurred. For instance a victim of a non-violent crime may feel less violated than a victim held up at gunpoint. This is not always the case as a victim of having their home burglarized may feel violently violated as their sanctuary of safety, their home, has been taken away. Trauma doesn’t restrict itself.

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There are certain common responses to the underlying reaction that a victim will undergo. These reactions may not happen for some time and these are not all inclusive:

  • They incur shock

  • numbness to the event

  • denial that it could happen to them or a family member

  • disbelief at the criminal act

  • anger … sometimes extreme

  • And finally recovery, which may be a week or may take a lifetime.

Nothing heals the pain and trauma but passing of time and sometimes that only barely lessens the agony. Here are a few tips for helping yourself or someone else cope:

  • Find a person you can talk to about your feelings with no fear of being mocked, privacy violated or any other fear. They must be trusted.

  • Allow yourself to feel the pain whether physical or emotional. It will not last forever, not at the current level anyhow.

  • Spend times with others, but make quiet time for yourself.

  • Take care of yourself, mind and body. This may not be easy, but is necessary. Rest, sleep, eat regularly and not just junk food

  • Re-establish a normal routine as soon as possible

  • Re-take control of decisions caring friends and family may have taken over

  • Regain your routine, but move more carefully and cautiously as you may not be 100% yet and you don’t need an accident to compound the issue.

  • Recall things that helped you cope in the past. Prayer, mediation, reading whatever helped.

Let’s examine the shock and/or numbness effect of trauma.

Shock and/or numbness are usually experienced at the initial stage of the crisis event. Whether you are a control freak or not, everyone has control over certain elements of their life, or at least feels they do. Suddenly and without warning the person is in a situation totally beyond their control and this total absence of control leaves them numb and disoriented.

It’s at this point the victim will incur the Fight or Flight syndrome which is a built in self preservation mechanism God gave us and we literally have no, or very little control over it. It’s known as an automatic physiological response. As noted this is a self preservation response but most victims don’t understand their response to the emotion or their lack of control.

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A woman who took an intensive self-defense program in order to protect herself will be confused and embarrassed as to why when confronted she couldn’t initiate one defensive move she’d been taught. Or a man who turns and runs instead of standing and fighting will experience the shame of feeling like a coward, although that is not true. To rebut the person for their reactions results in secondary injuries which may never go away. “Once a coward always a coward type thing.”

You may ask how do soldiers, first respondents, police overcome this fight or flight syndrome control? Simply put … training. Ask nearly any person who became a hero for the moment and they’ll tell you their training took over.

Denial, Disbelief and Anger

During this segment of trauma the victim may or will most likely experience extreme mood fluctuations. Research shows victims nearly all react the same way. They will question fate:

Why did this happen to me?”

This couldn’t have happened to me!”

  • Many will experience dreams replaying the event, sometimes exactly as they remember it and other times distorted with crazy unrelated things interjected.

  • They may dream (nightmares if you will) about killing or causing great bodily harm to the offender. Torture becomes tantalizing.

  • Homicide victims may feel anger at the dead victim, reasoning if the person had done something different, not stayed late at work or took a different way home, they would not have been killed.

This will be a terrible time of trauma when the victim will contend with an abundance of emotional and stressful emotions such as:

  • Fear

  • Despair

  • Self-pity

  • Guilt

  • Shame

  • Anger

  • Hostility

Emotional help assuring them these feelings are normal and OK is important. Never make light of their pain.

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This is Real

Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome:

Historically this type of trauma was used to describe military veterans and was referred to as being shell shocked or having that 1000 yard stare. Researchers now apply this syndrome to crime victims and other victims of violent actions (like being tear gassed with your children). It must be noted not every victim of a crime or every soldier experiencing combat will develop PTSD. This is especially true if preemptive crisis intervention counseling is offered and taken.

Some recognizable symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Sleeping disorders/continued nightmares;

  • Constant flashbacks/intrusion of thoughts;

  • Extreme tension and anxiety;

  • Irritability/outbursts of anger;

  • Non-responsiveness or lack of involvement with the external world;

  • Prolonged feelings of detachment or estrangement of others; and

  • Memory trouble.

PTSD is a very complicated diagnosis and the presence of any of the above-mentioned symptoms does not mean that a person is suffering from PTSD. However, it’s my strong suggestion demonstration of these signs require follow up analyzation by a medical professional.

Secondary Injuries:

One must remember a trauma victim not only struggles with primary injuries, but also must battle secondary injuries. Most secondary injuries are provoked by the victim failing to receive proper support and understanding by trusted and/or loved ones. For instance:

  1. A soldier returning from combat will have trouble relating to their family at first. Either the family repeatedly questions the soldier about their experiences and the soldier doesn’t want to talk about them, or visa versa the family doesn’t want to hear about the horrors of war. This was a daily travesty for soldiers returning from combat during the VietNam war. They were met with jeers and hatred by fellow Americans.

  2. Victims of violent crime may be treated with the negative attitude by professionals that they were somehow responsible for the crime. They were dressed provocatively resulting in them being raped, or they had no business in that type of bad neighborhood. Sometimes people who ought to know better display the height of ignorance and indifference.

<> on April 1, 2014 in Nogales, Arizona.

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This is not political, but as I write this piece I can’t help but think of the current immigration problems we are experiencing. I’m not arguing right or wrong, I’m arguing that we as God fearing people should look at what we may be doing to innocent people.

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Love These

A mother fearing for the safety of her children embarks on an unimaginable trek to the “Promised Land” (America) The distance she must travel is immense with daily dangers of being raped, killed, kidnapped and sold into slavery. The odds of the family making it all the way to America is slim to none.

Somehow they endure and are at the front gates of the prosperous, generous and tender heart Americans, Then their world collapses. They are denied legal entry to America, then are tear gassed and told they will never be allowed sanctuary. Stop and imagine that.

  1. A danger filled trek of thousands of miles on foot.

  2. Enduring unimaginable hardship along the way

  3. Then being tear gassed and told the family will never find safety

Trauma is a deadly emotional disease and we should take it more seriously than many of us do. Trauma doesn’t only occur in the movies … it’s real life. What are we doing to these children? Creating emotionally scarred and disabled people. Or creating a whole new generation of Bin Laden s intent on wrecking pain on Americans. Trauma is an uncontrollable disease with unknown results.

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