In my travels, I tend to come across people in helping professions. I meet them at social gatherings, at conferences, even just standing in line waiting for coffee. I have a large number of friends who are in corrections, social services, or in the therapy field. Hearing them compare notes
In my travels, I have also encountered a fair amount of research written about trauma. My friends recommend it to me. I hear people discussing the books and the research. And I read them. Well, some of them, anyway.
But one thing really gets to me — the focus that people seem to have on the psychological aspects of trauma, as though that’s the only real problem that trauma brings with it. Every once in a while, I come across someone talking about the physiological results of being traumatized (as in, being helpless and thinking – seriously – I’m gonna die! and having your body flood with the biochemical lubricants that make the experience of being eaten by lions somewhat less awful than normal).
Another thing that really gets to me is how much focus is placed on sexual trauma. Incest. Rape. Molestation. Okay, I understand that this is a terrible, terrible aspect of life that is indeed traumatizing. I know too many people — both men and women — who have been raped and/or molested. It makes me physically ill to think what they’ve been through.
They’ve been traumatized. But they’re not the only ones. And the discussion of trauma and its aftermath and how you heal from it shouldn’t only revolve around sexual abuse.
An awful (and I mean awful) lot of people have experienced trauma. Motor vehicle accidents. Surgery. Catastrophes. Other accidents. Assaults. Drive-by shootings. You name it. This world seems tailor-made for trauma. But when we narrow the focus on the phenomenon of trauma survival and recovery to include primarily sexual experiences, not only do we shut out a lot of folks who need to be considered, but we make it all the harder for sensitive, caring, impressionable people (not unlike myself) to approach the topic of trauma as something that pertains to them.
Don’t get me wrong – I fully support sexual trauma survivors who need to tell their stories. I just think that those aren’t the only stories we should be hearing about. And the trauma recovery research and learning that’s out there should extend beyond the domain of base defilement.
Furthermore, can we please discuss it as a physiological phenomenon that has a tendency to hijack psychological and cognitive functioning? Please?
If we can figure out a way to talk about trauma in more objective, less emotionally triggering terms, and we can view it in light of a whole-person (and whole-body) point of view, the field — I suspect — can jump ahead by leaps and bounds and help more of those who need the help.
That’s what I think, anyway.