Poly-Victimization & Effects of Trauma

Poly-victimization is a new term for me and one that is a relatable definition in my life.

Tuesdays are my volunteer days for two organizations… BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) International and Kristi House, an advocate for sexually abused children and their families. I help care and play with children at both. At BSF we watch and play with about 6 to 8 children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years old while their mothers, who are the bible study leaders for our bible study groups in a class of over 600 women every Wednesday morning in South Miami, FL, meet to discuss the past week’s lesson prior to meeting on Wednesdays with their groups. At Kristi House I casually sit at the play area in the waiting room and play with children of all ages, race and backgrounds.

I have the privilege of receiving free certified training at Kristi House. The first training I received was this past September for “CSEC – Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (Human Trafficking).” The second was “Children and Traumatic Stress.” These trainings are not only available to volunteers but are open and free to the public, all you have to do is register – follow the links above to become familiarized.

Last Friday when I attended my second training on Children and Traumatic Stress with instructor Dawn Thompson I was educated on the impact of trauma on the development and behavior of children, trauma informed intervention strategies and assisting in ensuring safety, permanency, and well-being of the children we serve. To my surprise Dawn began the training with a 911 recording of an 8 year old little girl calling in on a domestic violence situation between her mother and drunk step-father. Immediately when the recording started playing and I heard the frantic crying little girl I got upset with myself as I was reliving my own trauma.  I thought “WHY am I putting myself through this?” I fought back my tears as I have so well taught myself to do over the years and counseled myself as I also have trained myself to do in situations where I have to be present and not allow the moment to make me mentally jump off a cliff. Although at that moment I wasn’t sure why I voluntarily placed myself in this setting I ultimately knew that there is a purpose and so I carried on without further allowing myself to get upset and questioning it.

I learned that traumas can be broken down into three types: Acute Trauma, Chronic Trauma and Complex Trauma.  Acute trauma is a one time catastrophic event like a Hurricane. At 14 years old I lived through the devastation Hurricane Andrew caused in our hometown Homestead,FL – I had no idea that this would be considered a trauma. Chronic trauma is repetitive, or a build up of different types of trauma which include reoccurring physical or sexual abuse, neglect, combat experience, bullying or a buildup of multiple traumatic experiences throughout one’s life. I have been involved in quite a few physical fights in my younger years one of which involved 5 girls that were twice my size against just me, traumatic to say the least. Complex trauma is more in depth caused by someone close like a family member. It’s unfortunate that some of us have experienced this type of trauma from someone we love so deeply and because of the confusion this causes we grow to believe that the abuse is normal and carry it in our lives as normalcy to receive and give.

Poly-victimization may be defined as an individual who has experienced or been a victim of trauma from all areas of life, therefore having all three of the relatable traumas mentioned above. Can you think of your traumas now that I have broken them down a bit? Do you know that trust is a huge issue for poly-victimized individuals? There is nobody they can trust, or so that’s the world they have created. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Effects of poly-victims also include changes in biology, attachment issues making it hard to connect, dissociation personality traits, cognition problems, negative self-concept, constant mood regulation and behavioral control just to name a few. Uneducated individuals who are not aware of the seriousness in this would more than likely say that these are mental issues and probably seek prescribed medication but if carefully observed and understood we can clearly define these as natural reactions. Prescribed medications do not change or help these reactions, they just suppress. (Wake Up America!)

I believe it would be safe to say that a huge percentage of our society plays a role in poly-victimization, whether it be the victim or the offender and even those who are aware of what is going on and does nothing to HELP. For example, when a principal decides to make it his duty to kick a child out of their school rather than finding them HELP. Or when a coach has a handful of troubled seniors on his team and does nothing to HELP get them to the next level. How about when a family member is aware of sexual abuse going on in their family and does nothing to find a way to HELP the family. Both the victimizers and the victim need help, fixing one and not the other is only solving half the problem and not solving the other is just creating more problems. A vicious cycle that is only getting worse in today’s world.

There is this old proverb that I’d like to end this with… “It takes a village to raise a child.” It is truly my belief that it does indeed take an entire community to raise a child. May it be by mentoring, teaching, coaching, positively influencing, guiding, partnering with local agencies and systems, educating families about their rights, provide support and comfort, training yourself and sharing with your community, and identifying available resources in the community. The list really doesn’t end there.  We can all make a positive impact on today’s society but it has to start somewhere and with somebody so I hope today’s blog inspires you to make a difference and a positive impact on our falling world.

Much Love <3

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