Silence is isolating. Silence is suffocating. Silence prevents healing. Yet, sometimes silence and isolation are desired by survivors of trauma and secondary trauma. Many people never discuss or disclose trauma they’ve experienced or are silent for years, even though the need for disclosing and emotional healing is so great.
Why Do So Many People Suffer in Silence?
Finding the words to ask for help can be so difficult. There are a variety of emotions involved, including shame, panic, and fear of the unknown. Children may fear being removed from their family’s care, worry about getting someone in trouble or arrested, or believe they will be viewed as bad. Adults may fear losing their jobs or losing custody of their children, or being viewed as weak or incapable. These are common fears with both trauma or secondary trauma. If the trauma is ongoing, there is often a fear that speaking up will cause violence to worsen, and this may be true.
People may fear being shunned or not believed. Self-blame is often present in the lives of survivors and they may believe they caused the trauma or that they are at fault. This can lead to a feeling or belief that others will blame them. Secret keeping is often a part of trauma and secondary trauma (think confidentiality with secondary trauma), so it may seem wrong to break silence sometimes rather than the right thing to do. It also may be difficult to believe anyone can help the situation or that anything will change; there is an element of hopelessness.
Breaking The Silence
Ending stigma and victim blaming as a society starts with every individual. There is a need for community and to be connected to others who understand. I worked in domestic and sexual violence services for years, and later as a case manager with families experiencing addiction and trauma. Besides having my own personal trauma during that time, I was also experiencing secondary trauma. Bonding with co-workers became a priority, as we all understood each other and built a sense of community based on the trauma we had witnessed and heard. Having this support helped me immensely as did having a safe place to express emotions that I couldn’t have explained to anyone else. I cannot stress enough the power of breaking silence and discussing difficult topics, and how valuable this is for survivors.
The Power of One Voice
By speaking up about my personal experiences, I have been able to help others, and this can help you too. When I became a Christian and started to heal I prayed that I would never be stagnant in my healing, and asked that Jesus would give me opportunities to use everything I learned through my own healing process to help others. This has been a way to let go of my past, because I stopped reliving my past and instead use bits and pieces of my past over and over again to help others. There is power in my story, and there is power in yours. Every person can use what they went through for the good of others, and strengthen themselves in the process. You do not need to be a professional to impact others with your story; there is always someone in need. If you ask God to use you He will. In the next blog, I will be discussing more on how to be empowered and break the silence in your own situation.
I’d love to hear more about your story. Please contact me with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing