Trauma is gut-wrenching, affecting not only the person going through it, but also the people around him or her. It can be caused by accidents, injuries, attacks, abuse, natural disasters, illness, and the death of loved ones. Living through trauma is debilitating, yet many victims fail to reach out to others for help.
The reasons vary from the fear of judgment, shame, or the thought that nobody would understand them. But this inability to talk aggravates the situation further. People unaware of trauma and what it does can adversely affect the victim through their words and actions. With the best intentions and the utmost love, we fail to give the proper support to our loved ones.
What to expect from someone going through trauma?
The first step is to educate yourself on trauma and how it affects a person. Practical knowledge of the subject eases conversation and understanding of the issue. Sometimes, the feelings a victim is going through may come across as irrelevant to an ordinary person. However, this lack of understanding makes the victim burrow deeper into their pain and cling to darkness.
1. Fear and anxiety
Victims may feel fearful of the trauma reoccurring and have anxiety thinking about it. They obsess over their safety and go to great lengths to keep themselves safe. These feelings continue long after the actual trauma is over. Some people become recluses because of this fear and anxiety.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is debilitating and has serious adverse effects on the victims. They’re often triggered by something they associate the trauma with. This occurs when a victim is re-experiencing the trauma as if it is happening to them again. For instance, a particular scent, sound, landscape, or even a person. The greatest challenge is that they can be triggered months, years, or even decades after a trauma.
Also, read: Trauma must be healed at every level otherwise it can literally haunt you
Avoidance of places, times, people, and situations is an unhealthy way of coping with the trauma. Sometimes victims avoid facing one’s feelings because they fear getting triggered.
After a traumatic experience, a victim is often left feeling angry about why it happened. They question why it happened to them and have misplaced anger targeted at loved ones for failing to keep them safe. Many survivors report feeling angry at God for allowing it to happen to them.
5. Guilt and shame
The victims feel guilty about being alive or surviving a traumatic experience. They feel ashamed about what happened and why they must have done something wrong.
6. Changed outlook on life
When victims go through trauma, they become bitter, grief-stricken, depressed, or have other conflicting emotions. Their outlook on life may change, and they see the world as unsafe.
7. Managing pain through self-medication
Victims of trauma can self-medicate, be it by drugs, alcohol, work, or even sexual promiscuity.
How can you help a trauma patient?
Keep these tips handy:
- Always first ask how you can help.
- Mirror the victim’s language, and avoid using words they don’t use as it might be a trigger.
- Get them involved in activities. As old as it sounds, initiating rehabilitation through various engagements and activities will help the victim.
- Many people tiptoe around the topic and avoid talking about it. So be natural.
- Don’t pressure them to seek help, don’t force your thoughts on them, and don’t ask how they could let such an incident happen to them. Maybe you would have done certain things differently, but this isn’t about you. A single judgmental word will send them spiralling back to their darkness and make them defensive.
- Accept their feelings, be it anger, bitterness, helplessness, and depression. They’ve lived through it. You don’t have to talk about it if they don’t want to and just being around them helps.
- We love advising people and putting our two cents worth. However, offer advice only if asked. When the victims talk, sometimes all they want is someone who will listen to them.