Hope Project - October 2018 Newlsetter
Recovery from Trauma is an extremely personal experience. The way a person heals is just as unique as the trauma itself. While most of us are familiar with the stages of grief because they have been publicized everywhere from books to day-time talk shows, often the stages of trauma recovery remain a mystery. It is important to remember that these stages are “non-linear”, which means that they happen in no particular order and that there is no “backward”. They are simply different stages of healing, unique to you and your process.
Safety and Stabilization
People affected by trauma tend to feel unsafe in their bodies and in their relationships with others. Regaining a sense of safety may take days to weeks with acutely traumatized individuals or months to years with individuals who have experienced ongoing/chronic abuse. Figuring out what areas of life need to be stabilized and how that will be accomplished will be helpful in moving toward recovery. For example:
A person who has experienced trauma may struggle with regulating or soothing difficult emotions in everyday life which they might not associate directly to the trauma.
Some people who experienced trauma, particularly complex trauma, may find that speaking about their experiences emotionally overwhelming.
A metaphor for creating safety:
The experience of emotional overwhelm is similar to that of a shaken bottle of soda. Inside the bottle is a tremendous amount of pressure. The safest way to release the pressure is to open and close the cap in a slow, cautious and intentional manner so as to prevent an explosion. (Rothschild, 2010)
Remembrance and Mourning
This task shifts to processing the trauma, putting words and emotions to it and making meaning of it. It might not be necessary or required to spend a lot of time in this phase. It is, however, necessary to be continuing to attend to safety and stability during this phase. Attending to safety allows the person affected by trauma to move through this phase in a way that integrates the story of the trauma rather than reacts to it in a fight, flight or freeze response. The point is not to “re-live” the trauma but nor is it to tell the story with no emotions attached.
This phase involves the important task of exploring and mourning the losses associated with the trauma and providing space to grieve and express their emotions.
Reconnection and Integration
In this phase, there must now be a creation of a new sense of self and a new future. This final task involves redefining oneself in the context of meaningful relationships. Through this process, the trauma no longer is a defining and organizing principle is someone’s life. The trauma becomes integrated into their life story but is not the only story that defines them.
In this third stage of recovery, the person affected by trauma recognizes the impact of the victimization but are now ready to take concrete steps towards empowerment and self-determined living.
In some instances, people who have experienced trauma find a mission through which they can continue to heal and grow, such as talking to youth or peer mentoring. Successful resolution of the effects of trauma is a powerful testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.
Recovery is not defined by the complete absence of thoughts or feelings about the traumatic experience but being able to live with it in a way that it isn’t in control of your life.
(Source: Trauma Recovery )
What Can I Do?
Recognize that healing takes time. Allow yourself/the other person to go through this process in their own way. Look for ways to promote healing, such as mindfulness techniques, journaling, exercise, or perhaps just listening. One of the most important things when healing from trauma is to remember that you are not alone. This process can seem like it might be insurmountable, but there is hope.
Hope Project’s Self-Care Tips
The words we use to describe ourselves play back in our minds on repeat. We need to be aware that we create the lens through which we view ourselves with each statement. Taking the time to create positive language, even when we struggle to believe it, can have long-lasting, beautiful effects.
- You are worth it.
- You are wonderful.
- You are loveable.
- You have the ability to heal.
What’s New at Hope Project?
Hope Project would like to introduce it’s newest additions to the team: Deborah and Jessenia. With three full time advocates, we now have more availability to meet with you or your loved ones. If you are curious about how an advocate can help you or or loved one, please feel free to contact us. We would love to meet with you!
M-F 9am to 5pm
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Hope Project also provides free presentations on sexual violence awareness and Hope Project program information to schools, businesses, churches and other organizations.
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