When Best Intentions Aren’t Enough
It’s incredibly difficult for someone suffering from trauma to share what they experienced. We want to be supportive and help as best we can, but sometimes even our best intentions can lead us astray. A recent article on Huffington Post shares some therapists’ suggestions on what we should and shouldn’t say when someone suffering from trauma decides to open up to us. It’s excellent advice and we’d like to go over some of the key points here.
Don’t Minimize Their Trauma
As the article points out, “it could have been worse” is one of the worst things you can say to someone suffering from trauma. The impetus is understandable. We want people to focus on positive things to get them through a difficult time. However, in actuality, this is minimizing their trauma. What these folks are looking for when they choose to talk is someone to acknowledge the pain they’re going through. When we tell them to look on the bright side, that pain is being overlooked.
Don’t Blame the Victim
“Maybe next time you should…”. “What did you think was going to happen?” “This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t…”. These are all subtle and not-so-subtle ways of victim-blaming. Furthermore, this kind of thing happens all too often to women suffering from trauma. What they wore, what they drank, what club they went to – none of these were the cause of their trauma. This kind of talk stems from a mistaken idea that we can control the bad things that happen to us. Even worse, it’s incredibly insensitive and reinforces notions that the trauma was somehow their fault.
Give the Person Space to Be Seen
The article gives the example, “the same thing happened to someone I know”. Again, the good intentions here are clear. We trying to relate to the person suffering from trauma. We want to let them know they’re not alone. However, when we’re comparing our stories with theirs, we’re shifting the focus from them to us. What these folks are looking for when they decide to share their story is a chance to be seen and heard. In this situation, it’s much better to try to practice empathy and compassion.
Real Courage Means Asking for Help
Ocean Recovery has been successfully treating clients suffering from trauma since 2002. At our facilities in sunny Newport Beach, California, we’ve helped hundreds of men and women heal from their difficult pasts and go on to lead happy, contented lives. Our expertly trained staff offers individual, group, and family counseling, addiction education, nutritional counseling, surf therapy, beach bootcamp, and more. It’s all part of our holistic approach to treatment. If you or someone you love is suffering from unhealed trauma, please don’t hesitate to give Ocean Recovery a call today. Real courage means asking for help. Ocean Recovery is ready to answer.