As we watch the unfolding congressional hearings on the potential appointment of Kavanaugh, we are blatantly reminded of the trauma that many women across the world have experienced at the hands of a violent and dominating patriarchal structure.
Rape, sexual abuse and assault are not the only forms of trauma, but the light of source certainly appears to be shining directly on this specific area of human consciousness.
The movement has become a tsunami crashing onto the shores of our society. Triggers are non stop. As the undulating waves throw us back and forth, be a safe place for those who are being rudely awakened to their trauma.
- Listen… This means active listening, don’t look at your phone, don’t share a similar story, don’t offer advice. Make eye contact if appropriate. Give authentic expressions of affirmation. “Yes” “Uhu” “I hear you” “Thank you for sharing this” are all acceptable forms of communicating that you are listening and present. You are not here to help, you are here to provide space where another can help themselves to move forward from traumatic experiences. Offer undivided attention, envision that person as a whole and complete being, because they ARE.
- Be Patient… It is perfectly alright if the person sharing says the same thing time and time again, or if they are not sure how to handle things, or if they seemingly make no sense. It is not their job to make sense to you, and it is not your job to make sense of their experience. There is no timeline for healing. Every moment of expression is a step on the path.
- Stay Objective… It isn’t about you, it’s not personal. Even if stereotypical statements like “all men” or “all women” come out of the person’s mouth, it is not personal. This is a process that is unfolding for the individual, let them have it. If you make it personal, you get wrapped up in the trauma, and that doesn’t help anyone. If you feel like taking sides, do that on your own time, I recommend journaling about your thoughts. Also, read The Four Agreements.
- Take care of YOU… Nothing is more powerful than a centered and content individual. Empowered in the knowing that regardless of environment, he or she is taken care of. If you dedicate too much of your energy to another person, you can lose track of yourself. In addition, those who have suffered trauma are often challenged to meet their basic daily needs. Whether they show it or not, it can be a struggle just to feed themselves everyday. By taking impeccable care of your personal affairs, you are an example and a beacon of strength. This may even mean letting someone know that you are not in a state to support them, encourage them to seek other friends or venues of support.
- Stay flexible… Healing from a trauma state leads to unexpected waves of emotion and memory. You never know what a trigger may be, when it may show up, and how intense the response. When in a social setting, the trigger may be unconscious. Remember it is okay to stay at home, to leave a party, to cry in the car, to cancel long standing and seemingly important plans. Nothing is more important than the inner sanctuary. If you or a friend need to leave or cancel, reserve your comments and judgements and DO WHAT IS CALLED FOR in the moment.
- Keep it light… No one is asking you to change your mood based on how they feel. In fact, quite the opposite, some individuals have been waiting so long to express these traumas that they will immediately be shifted by the experience. There is no need to remind them of what they said and drill deeper, let them do that work at their own pace, it’s already intense enough. I am not advising to make jokes, but it is not a terrible idea to authentically let someone know that they bring positivity to your life. A simple statement based on TRUTH like “I am glad you are here” brings people to the present moment, feel free to describe why you are grateful for them.
- Ask them what they would like… “How can I support you?” is an epic question. Regardless of the answer, you have fortified them with your willingness to support. Keep in mind that “You can’t” or “I don’t know” are perfectly acceptable answers. As is “Leave me alone for now”. If you feel comfortable, you may even want to start with this one.
- Respect their privacy… You may feel excited and perhaps even a little nervous about all of this shared energy. However, I advise that you do your best to move on with your own personal affairs. Place the intimate details that have been shared in a tiny rocket and send them to the Sun, where they can be transmuted into eternal loving energy. If you notice others discussing someone else’s personal details, take them aside and share this article with them 😉 Part of loving people is respecting their private and personal life. If you don’t need to speak someone else’s name, DON’T DO IT.
Trauma Support Team
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