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Pathways to Resilience: Empowering Trauma Survivors with Support

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

How has trauma shaped your life's path?

At the time of this publishing, 70% of the adult population in the US have been affected at least once by a traumatic event in their lives. In the United States, a woman is beaten every 15 seconds, a forcible rape happens every 6 minutes. Thirty three percent of our youth have been affected by community violence. (CDC)

These statistics do not even begin to scratch the surface in regards to how many individuals are impacted by trauma daily. It's safe to state that if you are not affected by trauma, you know someone that has been. You might be thinking, "None of these horrible things you stated have happened to me or anyone I know". So I am going to ask you to stretch your mind back to childhood. Were you emotionally safe? Could you talk to your parents without fear of judgment? How did your caregiver show love and affection towards you? Were you ever bullied by anyone? Were your parents divorced?

Below are some examples of common types of trauma:

  • Medical Trauma

  • Military Trauma

  • Emotional Trauma

  • Sexual Trauma

  • Developmental Trauma

  • Intergenerational Trauma

  • PSTD

  • Complex Trauma

  • Acute Trauma

Not all of these examples will fall under the category of "a traumatic event" for every one. However, if you or someone you know did encounter an event that made them feel powerless, scared, alone or morally injured, then that often will launch their experience into a traumatic one.

How are people affected by trauma coping in society daily? Well, truthfully, many people are not coping. Almost 21 million Americans have at least 1 addiction, only 10% of them receive treatment. Twenty percent of Americans are taking some form of antidepressent. Six percent of Americans are alcoholics, which doesn't sound high until you learn that those statistics translate to about 20 million people in the US. Eighty eight thousand people die as a result of alcohol use every year in the US. One hundred and thirty Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Over 2 million Americans have an opioid use disorder. There are over 100,000 new heroin users in the US yearly. (Addiction Center)

Trauma can be complex. How can we support someone impacted by trauma?

There are several ways we can support individuals who are impacted by trauma.

  • Provide a safe and supportive environment by offering them a non-judgemental space where they can express their feelings and experiences without fear or shame.

  • Foster a community connection with them. Encourage the individual to connect with support groups or communities where they can share their experience with others who have gone through similar challenges.

  • Listen actively and validate their experiences. Show the individual empathy and understanding by listening to their struggles and concerns. Remind them their feelings are valid and respected.

  • Educate yourself about trauma. Learn about the aftereffects in order to understand their experience better. By doing this, you can provide informed support and avoid potentially triggering situations.

  • Practice patience and compassion. Recovery from trauma takes time, avoid pressuring them to make progress quickly. Telling a trauma survivor to "move on" or "get over it" does not work, in fact it only adds more obstacles for the individual because it introduces shame.

  • Offer support. Everyday tasks can become overwhelming to trauma survivors. Alleviating everyday burdens can allow them to focus on their healing.

  • Encourage them to get professional help. Suggest to the individual that they speak to a mental health professional. These providers include therapists, social workers, psychologists, counselors, coaches and clergy members. These professionals can provide appropriate guidance.

Everyone's healing journey is unique. It's important to approach each individual with sensitivity and respect for their personal boundaries. Professional support can play a vital role in understanding and addressing different types of trauma.

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