SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – When people experience a traumatic event, many may end up with treatable injuries like broken bones and bloody lips, but trauma also leaves deep wounds that can be less visible, but even more debilitating. Treating those emotional wounds is this week’s Mental Wellness Wednesday.
“The people that we see have experienced various kinds of trauma,” The Council on Sexual Assualt and Domestic Violence Executive Director Robin McGinty said.
Staff at the CSADV are well versed on recognizing the signs that someone has been exposed to trauma.
“They may be hypervigilant where if there’s a loud noise they may jump and startle easily, if there’s a light or different sound they may need a more quite, serene space,” McGinty said.
Their symptoms that can come from direct experience with some kind of violence, sadness or danger, or even witnessing something traumatic.
“Just because they don’t have a broken arm or a black eye, they’ve still experienced trauma and they’re still traumatized by what has happened to them,” McGinty said.
Mental health professionals say everyone reacts to trauma differently, but many people may try to retreat and attempt to deal with their emotional damage on their own.
“When people keep trauma inside of them and they don’t share it, it grows and it can become bigger and more difficult to deal with, so it’s really important for people to be able to let others know what has happened to them and to share that with them,” Girls and Boys Home Certified Therapist Christy Spicer said.
For kids, art or play therapy are some resources that can help them share their stories and experiences in a safe place.
“It gives them a way to tell their story that is in their language and it’s outside them,” Spicer said. “I can draw a picture of it so it’s not happening to me in the same way because its on the paper, whether it’s on the drawing, through toys or through sand tray miniatures.”
While the form of therapy may look different for each person, it’s important for everyone to seek mental health care after experiencing trauma.
“The biggest thing is to talk about it, to work through it, not just jump over it an pretend it didn’t happen,” McGinty said. “Seeking out help is a sign of strength, it’s not a weakness. When we’ve seen traumatic things or been through traumatic things it’s important to debrief that and you need to tell the story and you may need to tell the story even more than once.”
McGinty says healing from trauma is a process. Sometimes it can look like two steps forward and three steps back, but as long as you’re actively talking and working through it, recovery is possible.