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Tag: trauma (page 1 of 2)

PTSD: What Happens When We’re Triggered

Originally published on September 2, 2015

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health disorder that afflicts about 24 million Americans at any given time (National Institute of Health). Post-traumatic stress occurs, in short, when traumatic events are re-experienced due to external triggers, nightmares and/or reoccurring thoughts. Due to the frightening nature of “re-living” a traumatic experience, PTSD sufferers may avoid situations or places that arouse these fears or feelings.

Understanding someone’s triggers is important. Being sensitive to someone’s post-traumatic stress is the same as being sensitive to a child’s… Click To Tweet

So what happens when we’re triggered?

  • We may dissociate or detach from our current reality and feel like we’re back in the traumatic situation (car accident, combat, abusive home, etc).

  • Our heart races, body temperature rises, we may start shaking or crying and we may fall into a fetal position.

  • We become hypervigilant to sounds, strangers, sights and smells. This hypervigilance can last for weeks or months after the event.

  • Our bodies tense up or we run away from the trigger, known as the fight or flight response.

  • Some people completely freeze in their location, which is an alternative to fight or flight. This is a natural response.

  • We may prepare to leave or stock up on resources in case of emergency. We charge our phones, pack a bag, make a packing list or look for backpacks/luggage. This gives us a sense of control.

 

These are only a few natural responses to traumatic stress.

I have counseled survivors of mass tragedies and I think of them every time another shooting occurs. I wonder if the breaking news alerts are triggers for them. In my current work with domestic violence survivors, I have noticed that their triggers are all different. I also have to educate them about triggers their children may face, as witness to abuse in their home.

My suggestion is to inform those closest to you what your triggers are and how to help you cope. I have faced scary situations in my life (armed robbery, burglary, large earthquakes, sudden deaths) and I cope with each of them in different ways. I recently had to have a conversation with my husband about my experience being robbed even though that was over 20 years ago. A few years ago we experienced a large earthquake together and we were understanding about each of our reactions to it.

Knowledge is powerful and will keep you from feeling all alone.

Speaking with a trauma trained therapist can help you or your loved one to process feelings or emotions that arise from triggers.

Besides, having comforting friends or loved ones can help you ride the wave of PTSD triggers and ground you back into the present day.

 

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No More Secrets: Healing From Domestic Violence- Book Review

This writer received this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. 

 

“The more we tell our story, the more it loses its power.” Click To Tweet

I have been working with domestic abuse survivors for 4 years. There is power in their story. The quote mentioned above is a message I have shared with survivors when they begin trauma treatment.

I recently reviewed the book entitled “No More Secrets: Healing From Domestic Violence.” This story is told from the viewpoint of six domestic abuse survivors who used narrative storytelling to heal from their trauma. Thanks to their group and support system at The Second Step in Newton, Massachusetts, Allison, Becca, Cecilia, Donna-Marie, Olive and Selma received counseling, but also built a sisterhood within themselves. “They encouraged each other, they challenged each other, they’ve encouraged each other to be true to themselves, and in so doing they have discovered the profound healing power of connection.”

 

What makes this book unique?

  1. This book doesn’t just focus on red flags and traumatic stories. Part I did include chapters that told graphic stories of each woman’s background and experiences. But Part II and III shared solutions, the lessons they learned about safety, self-worth, lessons they learned from each other and parenting, to name a few.
  2. I appreciated the personal quotes that were woven between the chapters. And these are not clichés from professionals. These messages are from their voice and reflect how far they’ve truly come.
  3. I appreciate the informational blocks within each chapter that describe the dynamics of domestic violence, red flag behavior and boundary setting. For someone who is just learning about working with this population, these blocks of info help solidify the seriousness of intimate partner violence.

Who is this book for?

Social workers, nurses, medical professionals, domestic violence advocates, law enforcement personnel, probation officers, parents of teens, adult survivors of childhood abuse, graduate students who are entering the mental health field, addiction therapists, psychology students, legal advocates or paralegals, school personnel and university staff.

 

This story made me feel like I was within their support circle. I felt like I could hear the pain and fear in their voices as they recounted their personal experiences.

As a therapist for survivors, I recommend this book especially for support staff. Having an empathetic ear and understanding of their experience is important. Trauma informed care is becoming a standard for any helping professional and this book weaves in education AND intimate experiences.

If you would like to learn more about Second Step’s program, please find them here.

If you would like to pick up this book for yourself or someone you know, please click below!

No More Secrets: Healing From Domestic Violence

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