March 15, 2015

Being trauma informed while instilling hope

I spoke at a Trauma Informed Care conference on March 13, 2015 and was honored to share with so many other advocates and practitioners and others in the community who held the same passion for helping those who are hurting.  The conference was called Instilling Hope, that’s our goal.  There were about 300 people in attendance with almost 100 on the waiting list, not because of me, but because of the desire to be more informed about helping people who had experienced trauma in their lives.

I was one of 20 speakers, but I too had my notebook and pen out taking notes during the other sessions because I feel that I always have something to learn.  During my breakout session workshop, I was able to share with the attendees about being trauma informed while doing trauma work.  

I shared with them how to assist victims of crime when you’ve been called to a scene to provide crisis intervention during a time of difficulty.  I talked with them about how I deal with victims or survivors during domestic or sexual violence situations, when I respond to a traffic fatality or a sudden and traumatic death.  I also spoke with them about how we must all learn to operate in a way that when we come in contact with someone in a state of crisis, that we figure there may already be a trauma history there.  

When you look at a situation from a trauma lens, you are less likely to see someone as “difficult” or “they seem like they don’t care” or feel like you are wasting your time because they are not responding the way you feel they should.  This person in front of us may have been sexually abused as a child, have a history of substance abuse, currently experiencing mental health issues or witnessed unspeakable acts during their lifetime. 

My trauma experience is not your trauma experience, what may be a crisis to you may not be a crisis to me.  I’ve learned to take the person where they are in their journey at the moment and meet them right there without allowing my worldview to creep into the crevices of the situation.

Some helpful tips I shared with the class: make sure your tone is gentle and sensitive, try to show verbal and non-verbal cues when you are interacting with a victim of crime (“you are safe now” or nodding your head during conversation), and show empathy whenever possible.  This will most likely make the interaction less frightening for the person dealing with the crisis and help you connect with them better. 

We all have something to teach and we all have something to learn.  We can all move mountains with the help of the best practices we can show when dealing with someone who has been involved in a traumatic situation.  By being trauma informed and practicing trauma informed care, whether we are the HR director, the maintenance worker, the restaurant manager, the law enforcement officer or the advocate; we are on our way to helping those who are hurting through their Journey of Healing.  

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