By: Dr. Tiffany Darby
Let’s address trauma. 2020 has brought all kinds of trauma to the forefront. I think that people think that trauma has to be a huge event. In reality, there are different variations of trauma. Trauma can be any event that has alerted a person or the trajectory of their life. No matter how big or small, if you are affected by something, it can be traumatic. It’s all relative.
Abuse and Neglect. There are several levels of abuse, including but not limited to sexual, emotional, physical, mental, etc. I’ve worked with clients who have experienced
levels of abuse throughout their lifetime. Many people experience a great deal of
trauma as children. I’ve heard countless stories of people who were sexually abused.
Some who have informed their loved ones and either felt supported or they were
accused of lying. In contrast, others have never told anyone and have lived with the
secret of abuse their entire life. Relationships. Social, intimate, and familial relationships affect us. In Black families, we are often told to be “seen and not heard” or to “respect our elders” regardless of what they say or do. That can create some trauma as we get older and start to develop our autonomy. Often we may not agree with our family or feel the need to become assertive with some members if we think that the relationship is toxic. Often it can feel traumatic because it goes against we were taught, so it feels uncomfortable to go
against our relatives. If you think that you need to become more assertive, it will take
some time and practice to implement change and break generational curses. Vicarious trauma. This is trauma that we may experience second hand. Working in the service field, we often hear about and witness trauma that the people whom we are helping experience. For example, if someone we know experiences a house fire or someone is shot, we can often experience vicarious trauma when we speak with them or help them. Even though we didn’t experience first-hand, the trauma may affect us as well. Errors. There are some errors in the process of trauma that people may not even realize they are doing. Some people minimalize or compare their trauma to others. Some feel that their trauma is less than necessary than others. I’ve heard, “well, I can’t talk about being rejected by a significant other to someone’s sexual abuse”. Your trauma is your trauma! Yes, there are different levels of trauma, but no one trauma is more significant than the other. Your trauma affects you the way that it does, and that’s it.
Although you may think that talking about, or for some, reliving the trauma, may not be helpful, the reality is that until you address and process trauma, it can affect you in
different ways, physically, how you relate to others, etc. A therapist is a neutral party
without bias, which can assist you in processing your trauma independent of