We life in a world rife with injustice. Not only do people with post-traumatic stress disorder have to endure the initial trauma, and combat its aftermath on a daily basis; they also have to navigate a mental health structure that is far from trauma informed. Treatment is necessary, and for some reason our society tends to tax the necessary.
I am pleased, then, to announce that writer Avery Philips has returned to Betty’s Battleground to guest write a post about the ways in which everyday people can create immense change in the lives of trauma survivors and the world at large. Changing the world doesn’t have to mean donning a cape and flying so fast around the world that time moves backward. It can be as simple as acknowledging that the injustice exists. Or it can be involved as pursuing a career in the recovery industry. In Avery’s essay we learn about the emotional repercussions of trauma, and actionable ways that we can help conquer injustice.
Please welcome back Avery T. Philips…
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.”
How to Combat Injustice in Everyday Life
Combating Emotional Trauma and Injustice in Everyday Life
The world we live in — though beautiful at times — is far from perfect. Particularly the interactions between humans, which can be wonderful, cruel, uplifting, depressing, inspirational, and abusive all in one day. Some of us experience one end of the spectrum more than the other, and not always for the better. Most of the time, life involves a series of ups and downs, but when the downs are unimaginably trying, or when the ups only come with the downs, it causes lasting emotional trauma.
This can be difficult to comprehend for those who haven’t experienced heavy events in their life, and a lack of understanding can cause even more harm to those who have been through difficult experiences. However, there are ways for everyone to be able to combat injustice and help trauma survivors, including increased awareness or dedicating yourself to the cause professionally.
Emotional Trauma and Repercussions
Injustice in the United States ranges from social issues to economic impairments and racial discrimination. Examples of these issues can include different kinds of abuse — sexual, emotional, and physical — systematic oppression, and racial profiling. Of course, the list of traumas is long, and each individual goes through their own unique situation.
All of these can lead to psychological issues. Depending on the person and the particular experience they went through, trauma can result in anxiety, depression, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Though not many people may think about psychological justice, safeguarding vulnerable populations is important because it helps survivors of trauma better recover, and helps end the cycle to create a better future for next generations.
What You Can Do
Being aware of these issues is the first step in combating injustice and trauma in everyday life. It is vital that you acknowledge that there are injustices in your community happening everyday, whether or not you are able to understand them personally. Speak up about injustice; though it shouldn’t be normalised, it’s important to recognize what is happening to help prevent it in the future.
If you ever witness a situation, make sure you do your part to be an active bystander.
If you see an escalating situation, you can try to intervene by asking for directions — if it doesn’t threaten your safety. If you see someone being treated unfairly, speak up and stand up for them. If you see a situation that has already escalated to the point that doesn’t allow you to safely interfere, call the proper authorities for help.
Empathy in Everything
The best thing to do when talking with someone who has gone through an emotional trauma is to approach the conversation with empathy. The person you are talking with may show strong emotions that might confuse you. While you are not obligated to stay through emotional outbursts and you should keep in mind your own emotional health, don’t take the outbursts personally and do what you can to get them help.
Empathy, an important part of your emotional IQ, is an important skill to develop, especially when you are talking with someone who has gone through trauma. Whether you have been in a traumatic situation or not, the best thing to do when someone is sharing their story with you is just to listen without interrupting. It can be difficult to come up with something to say when discussing heavy events, but all you really need to do is reflect or paraphrase what they are talking to you about, validate their experience, and try to empower them to make a positive change in their life. Sometimes even just listening, without offering advice, is enough.
What Not to Do
It takes trauma survivors a lot of time and courage to reach a point when they can talk to someone about these intense past experiences. Make sure to acknowledge this if someone comes to you to talk to or to get help. Stay away from judgment or giving uninformed advice. Don’t make this time about yourself by sharing your life story, either. You should never compare stories or say that some are worse than others, but once your loved one is done talking, you cantell them about any similar experiences you may have had so that they know they are not alone.
Vocalize your support for them and empower them when you can. Don’t force them to tell you any information, and don’t pry or ask insulting questions. Welcome any information they choose to give you, and recognize the trust they have placed in you by talking about this.
If they ask for your help, you can connect them to resources like a counselor, or if they are thinking about harming themselves, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If they need to get away from their home situation, help them find somewhere else to stay — especially if they are in an abusive situation. This can be your home if you are able to help, the home of another family member, or a local shelter. If they are ready, you can also help them contact authorities that can better help with the situation.
Social Work Professionals
If your passion is in helping others, you can help victims recover from different types of trauma by becoming a social worker. Social workers play critical roles in recovery after natural disasters, emotional, physical, mental, and sexual abuse, and more. Rutgers University reports the following areas will be trending in the field of social work in the next few years:
- Civil rights
- LGBT rights
- Women’s rights
- Elderly community
- Family dynamics
Sometimes, however, professional services may not suffice for those who are suffering. Unfortunately, sometimes social work facilities are not centered around trauma-informed care and can make it more difficult for patients to recover. Finding the right doctor and treatment option for PTSD and other mental health issues take time. While it’s important to give different methods a chance to work, it’s also important to know when to move on and find a more effective one for you.
If you or anyone you know are struggling with the aftermath of a traumatic situation, know you are not alone and that you deserve better. It is never too late to get help. It is never okay to stand by and do nothing when someone else is being harmed; keeping your safety in mind, there is always something you can do, even if it feels small. Working to eliminate injustice is one way to work for a better future and combat emotional trauma.