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.
It’s a pretty plain fact that when one member of a family has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other members of the family feel it in one way or another. This isn’t as terrible as it might sound to some. If one member of the family has a bad day at work, it’s going to affect other members of the family in some way. If one person wins the lottery, that is going to affect other members of the family–hopefully because he shares the wealth and not because he runs away with a supermodel. In any case, families are units. What happens to one person will affect the others. So when someone experiences trauma and develops PTSD, those who love her will feel some effects as well. This guest post by freelance writer Avery Phillips talks about some of the ways we can relieve the burden of that stress, and help the ones we love deal with trauma while also staying healthy ourselves.
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.
Right off the bat: will you take a moment to click vote 10 times for my poem and essay in a contest?
Now, here’s the story…
Earlier this year I asked for your help. I asked you to donate so that my family could pay off our last month of rent in Seattle, and get to Florida in order to stay with my husband’s parents. If you follow my blog, you probably know my relationship with my in-laws has a…history. One that, looking back through the lens of the past few months, very much resembles the abuse cycle typically associated with intimate partner violence. There would be periods of unexpected, unwarranted gifts, intense generosity, and inclusion in family dinners and outings. Always followed by the inevitable gutpunch. Demands that I leave their home. Below-the-belt insults that prey on the vulnerabilities I was naive enough to express during times of peace. Shouting fits that ignored my children crying in the same room. Cruel gossip tearing me down to every other member of the family, ensuring that if my in-laws don’t like me, no one else will either. It was because of this that I wrote shortly after arriving, “I don’t know what the future will hold, but for now I’m going swimming.” Continue reading →