Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Silence Trauma and Abuse

It's too easy to live in a society and civilization where we just don't talk about it.  You know - "it"!  We all know trauma and abuse happens, but it becomes far too easy to talk about the football game, the latest political threat we see, or some celebrity news gossip of the day.

Of course, I know we can't go around and talk about trauma and abuse every day.  Our world would really suck if we did.  Please don't think that's what I am referring to when I say we silence trauma and abuse.

This quote by Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D. sums it up very well.

We don’t really want to know what soldiers go through in combat. We do not really want to know how many children are being molested and abused in our own society or how many couples— almost a third, as it turns out— engage in violence at some point during their relationship. We want to think of families as safe havens in a heartless world and of our own country as populated by enlightened, civilized people. We prefer to believe that cruelty occurs only in faraway places like Darfur or the Congo. It is hard enough for observers to bear witness to pain. Is it any wonder, then, that the traumatized individuals themselves cannot tolerate remembering it and that they often resort to using drugs, alcohol, or self-mutilation to block out their unbearable knowledge? - Bessel Van der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score:  Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing Of Trauma.
We care about soldiers when they return home, but we turn our back on them in the days that follow.  As soon as their nightmares filled with demons begin to exhibit themselves, we turn to our own happy places.  We fail to see the anguish they go through and how difficult it is for them to deal with PTSD.  We long to help, but we don't know how.  We long to make things better for them, but we distance ourselves from their hidden pain and suffering.

We care about those that are on a daytime talk show who have been abused, but we think they can easily get over what they experienced.  After all, just saying it happened should be enough for the victim, right?  Shouldn't they just be able to move on and heal and let it all go?  That's what society tends to think and often times say.  I remember hearing that several times after my appearance with 200 male survivors with Oprah.  I just needed to let it go.  I just needed to move on.

There are far more examples that I could bring to the forefront, but when trauma or abuse happens, it is anything but easy or quick for the victims and survivors to escape.  Healing takes a lifetime for many and sometimes it is 3 steps forward and two steps back process.  Trying to push someone along because it makes another individual feel less discomfort is pure torture to the survivor.

We've got to get to a point in our world that we allow ourselves to talk about these things in the open.  Too much of it is hidden and goes on behind the locked doors of our homes or on some other continent in the case of war.

We can't continue to act as if it doesn't happen in our homes, churches, schools, communities, and families.  If we keep those blinders on, we are only perpetuating the continuation of trauma and abuse.  It is imperative that we open our arms up for those who have been hurt and tortured and abused and traumatized so that they can find their way home into their own body and mind.   

Blog Post And Images (c) 2/11/15 by Don Shetterly

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Blog Post And Images (c) 1/01/07 by Don Shetterly
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