1. Discuss at least 2 physical, emotional, behavioral, or cognitive symptoms of trauma in adults that you think people might think were from something else and not trauma. “Something else” could be “addictive personality,” laziness, bad character, workaholism, aggressive personality, personality disorder, interpersonal conflict, physical ailment, or some other problem that people think is the cause of the symptoms. Why do you think people sometimes misinterpret these trauma symptoms and think they come from this other cause? What does all this suggest for how we should treat others?
2. What do you think are two or three of the very most important things we should be paying attention to to recognize trauma in those around us?
3. What are the most important things we can do to support trauma survivors who are our friends or family or coworkers? What are some of the less ideal ways people sometimes behave with trauma survivors (e.g. “mistakes” people make when trying to be supportive) and how might we try to avoid causing harm?
Keep in mind – there is no one kind of trauma survivor. Also, there are millions of different kinds of trauma “triggers,” from discriminatory language to images of brutality to the color red or the smell of lemons. People have different preferences and styles and needs; some really want a chance to talk while others find talking about their symptoms increases their distress. Some people really respond well to hearing “It was not your fault!” but others can find this a sort of confrontation of their core beliefs and it can upset them to be told that it was not their fault. So in your response, keep in mind that there are few hard and fast “right” or “wrong” ways to behave and no clear rules for what to do, but there are some good guidelines we can learn about, while realizing that these won’t be appropriate for all individuals depending on personality, specific experiences, culture, community background, personal beliefs, etc.
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