The country went up in arms recently about the US government taking and withholding children from immigrant parents. Social media was abuzz with photos, videos, and audio recordings of children crying for their parents, being herded like animals in cages, and allegedly suffering maltreatment and abuse. It was, and remains, utterly heartbreaking. The fact that people are up in arms, speaking out, raising money, and protesting these events is righteous and it’s having an effect, if a slow one. But I haven’t been able to participate much because I’ve been focused on something else–while this has gone on, my family has been forcibly separated by the US government too. My kids aren’t in cages. There aren’t massive human rights violations taking place in this instance, but there are disability rights violations taking place. My daughters are crying for their mommy too. And I don’t know when I will see them again. But nobody has taken notice. Some of you might even believe it’s just, which is a byproduct of longstanding stigma that is ruining my life.
Though not yet an official diagnosis according to the American Psychiatric Association, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is being informally recognized as a more severe form of PTSD caused by prolonged trauma. Often, that trauma begins in childhood. Trauma that takes place during a person’s formative years is incredibly damaging. It establishes a sense of normalcy around abuse, creating a harmful pattern that can be extremely difficult to break from–or even recognize. The earlier the trauma begins, the more difficult it becomes for the victim to understand her experience as abnormal.