What to do when a person is very stressed out and distressed. I know that for me the thing that works is to use the softly approach. I believe that the more stressed out you are the gentler and more simplier the approach. Never use anger or rough treatment with a traumatized person as this makes it worse and can really frighten them and trigger them even more but simple commands with love are the way to go. Keep them and you safe when you need to but always try to use the gentler approach. Sometimes just being with someone and talking or a hug (always ask first before touching someone if it is ok) or a cup of tea can do wonders to make that person feel better, safer and ok again. When I first started to have sexual assault counselling all I could do was to repeat over and over again “I was raped for eight hours while seven months pregnant but I am ok I am alive I am still here” and sign. My counsellor was so suprised and even cried for me she said that she could not help it that seeing my physical reaction and body memory of that awful rape was heartbreaking. That was all I could say over and over again for the first few sessions because I was so overwhelmed with trauma from what I was feeling about that horrific event. But being able to say those powerful words and have another person listen to me and be in that safe space with me was healing to me. Having another person asking me what I need is also very helpful and good and allows me to say what I find works for me and also keeps me feeling very safe and knowing that my boundaries are respected. It tells me that the person really does want to help me to feel better and needs to know what I need. Sometimes laugher and a joke is good to keeping things fun and postive is a good way to go to help someone. But we are all different and individual so you need to find what works for you because we are all different and what works for one person may not work for another.
Traumatized people have triggers and each persons triggers are different. So asking questions is a great way to show that you want to help and need to know what the person would like or what they need from you. A person who is trying to help may not mean to do the wrong thing they simply don’t know what to do or what you need and may not have been in this type of situation before. I know that for me I have so many triggers that I never know till the situation happens how I am going to react but once you know you can prepare for the situation and it is not so scary or out of control. You might be able to deal with it in a way that is not so uncontrolable or scary next time so it is not so upsetting. Being triggered is very scary and very upsettting for the victim and often as you disasociate and lose time as your brain cuts off as a way of coping with the trauma. So you don’t always remember what has just happened you only know that something bad has happened to you. Also as your brain cuts off you can’t do your normal speech you often can’t talk and this can be really scary too. I often cry as I feel so powerless and overwhelmed by what has just happened to me also because I self harm as a way to cope with the horrible feelings that come up for me. Knowing that I have hurt myself again is heartbreaking to deal with and cope with over and over again.
Think about what works for you and get yourself a safely plan of action steps that help you to feel better. I have written down my safety plan to show to ambulance and police when they come to help me so they know what has happened and often I still have trouble talking again so I can just show them the safety plan so they know what to do and how to help me. You can show this to your case worker or support people so that they have an idea of what you need or what would help you to feel better. The more prepared you are the better you are to handle the situation and have a plan of actions steps to take. What are the things that you have found helped you to feel better and to recover again. You can’t take away what has happened to you in the past and the traumatic event but you can learn how to heal and look after your wellbeing in a healthy way. Its ok to fall down on bad days but remember to get back up again and keep working at getting better and better. We are all work in progress doing the best that we can under the life that we live. Don’t ever give up because there are always more ways to heal and do better.
Moral: Find ways to look after you in the best way that you can so that you stay safe!