Trauma: A Deeply Disturbing Experience that Won’t Go Away
By Jeffrey V. Perry, CPRP, Program Manager, Baltic Street AEH, Inc.
Transforming the Negative Effects of Traumatic Experiences
Let's discuss trauma from a deeply personal viewpoint and without going into the gory details of each moment of duress that a human being may encounter. Let us speak of this from our knowledge-base as we recount in a general way what goes on.
To begin with, this is my personal experience and not part of a paid study of anonymous subjects. Trauma is always that untold story. Regarding myself, I admit to going through traumas on several levels, from very physical, just physical, and very emotional to just emotional.
Trauma is finally entering the minds of those who should care, say they care, or those who are working in vocations of care at every level. More studies are being done with trauma in mind.
Trauma is an unexplained or unlawful hurt that occurs that becomes unspoken, or whose voice becomes muted. Trauma seems to own a place in your mind and takes residence there. It pays no rent, but cannot be evicted since it owns that space. Trauma is also physical and may be a reoccurring pain that causes someone to relive an accident or abuse of some kind.
I learned at a “trauma-informed care training” for peer advocates that there are very high rates of trauma experienced by prison inmates prior to entering prison, which includes witnessing shootings, beatings, robbery, rape and other crimes, participating in crimes, or being the victim of said crimes. Many are imprisoned for repeating abuses on others that they had experienced themselves. They would be the first to tell you that abusing someone was the last thing they wanted to do. Research “trauma-informed care” to learn about trauma and that it occurs for people not only in jails or mental hospitals, but as a veiled or cloaked experience for everyone.
I regard my personal trauma sorrowfully as a badge of courage, not unlike those who now speak from a survivor’s standpoint, thus freeing themselves from whatever pains they have endured. Trauma, as I define, is not exposed, but is just lived with.
Some of the greatest role-models are those who live with physical trauma daily, as indicated by the wheelchairs that transport them or the braces they wear on their bodies. This is what emotional trauma looks like on the inside.
If we can discover how to transform the negative effects into more positive ones, maybe traumas can be reversed to help us to cope. For me, writing about trauma is a way of reversing its effects. Human beings learn to cope with adversity, for whatever reason, eventually.
It is now our task to accelerate a positive process; to do more than just be informed about trauma, but to learn in what ways we can achieve positive conclusions. Let's learn more about trauma so we can stop blaming and stigmatizing those dealing with it. If we can nurture positive attitudes against negative effects, maybe there will be more hope on the horizon. Let's bring trauma out of the shadows to help people assume a productive lifestyle.
Note: This essay was written in memory of my good friend Marvin Spieler, who, in addition to many benevolent activities, ran a support group for many years for survivors of trauma and abuse.