We as South Africans are exposed to traumatic situations on a daily basis and because of the regular occurrence our country is definitely different from other countries in this regard. We are surrounded with events like motor vehicle hi-jackings, house robberies, armed robberies, violent strikes, farm murders, rapes and violence on a daily basis. Although many will argue that these types of crimes happen on a daily basis in other countries as well, the magnitude of violence accompanied by these criminal acts usually far surpassed those in other countries.
As such, we as South Africans find ourselves in a overwhelming traumatic environment, although we have desensitised to this environment significantly. These mentioned acts of violence happens on a regular occurrence and is on the increase. There are other events that causes emotional trauma like the passing of a loved one, news of a terminal illness, divorce, accidents or natural disasters and much more but I would like to focus on the traumatic events that characterised our beloved country. I write this blog, firstly from first hand experience and secondly from trauma counselling work I have been doing over the years. Some of us have been exposed to emotional trauma first hand and some of us have had a family member or friend who has gone through traumatic events.
A lot of us hear about these events happening to other people and think it will never happen to us; until it happens unexpectedly.Pivotal questions that face us when a traumatic event occurs is questions such as: What do you do? How do you handle the situation when it happens to you? How do you cope with the situation afterwards if you survive the ordeal? No one can be fully prepared when you are faced with a life or death situation. However, a trauma counselor can help you cope with the traumatic event you have faced and can assist you in detaching yourself from the traumatic event via a technique called Trauma Incident Reduction.
It is also very important to understand how the aftermath of a trauma event impacts our daily lives. We tend to:
- Be subjected to fear
- Be overtaken by feelings of anger and rage
- Be over protected towards our loved ones
- Be more isolated
- Have a feeling of being unsafe and vulnerable
- Have uncontrollable emotions
- Have sleeping disorders
- Have eating disorders
- Have irrational thinking and behaviour
- Have depression
- Have physical illness like; headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, stoic alcers and more
- Have PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
How should we deal with the realities of being a victim of a Trauma Event?
Support from family and friends is very important at the point or after a trauma event, although most victims of a trauma event may feel like being left alone. Support will be necessary to help the victim of the trauma event process what has happened and will also assist a trauma counselor in identifying any signs and symptoms of depressions and PTSD.
It will be important to continue to try and get rest and nutrition in during this time as most victims of a trauma event goes into physical shock. Try and visit a GP as well during this time to determine how your body is reacting and coping with the trauma event. Trauma events do manifest itself not only emotionally but also physically. You may have physical manifestations such as headaches, stomach cramps and heart palpitations.
The usual recovery period is between 2-6 weeks. If you find yourself not better emotionally, physically, mentally or psychology you need to consult a professional to help you deal with the ordeal.
How can Trauma Counselling and a Trauma Counselor help you?
- Trauma counselling will give the counselee the opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings or concerns in a save environment.
- Will help the counselee move forward emotionally and detach himself or herself from the trauma event. .
- Will help the counselee make positive cognitive conclusions.
- Give helpfull advise and practical tools to move forward.
- Make sure the counselee is making positive progress.
Make sure you understand the gravity of the situation and do seek help when necessary before it is too late.