Sometimes I am asked why trauma is so important to the work we do. In every section of our society, there are trauma survivors. This is especially true in the work we do at Youth Care & Beyond. The people we sere have suffered all types of trauma: witnessing or experiencing violent events, living in a violent neighborhood or family, being removed from home, separated from family, experienced abuse, abandonment and neglect, etc.
The effects of trauma differ for each person. No two people have the same symptoms. Many of the people we serve, don’t understand they have suffered trauma. Many assume this is just life. This is why it is important for us. Emotional symptoms of trauma include feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, abandonment, hopelessness, isolation, fear, self-harm, emotional numbness, and fatigue. In addition, a person may experience loss of interest in normal activities, time or dissociation, poor impulse control, obsessive thoughts, night terrors, flashbacks, nightmares, and inability to organize, plan or make decisions. Physical symptoms are more of the behaviors we address as a part of our program. These include increased use of alcohol and/or drugs to numb the pain from intense feelings and try to cope, angry outbursts, crying, blaming others for their situation, avoiding others, being alone, staying away from friends, inability to cope with situations, and refusing to go to school or work.
In our program we don’t just deal with behaviors, we address trauma. As a part of a trauma certification, staff take the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) to better understand childhood trauma and his or her effects of trauma. The ACE study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente links childhood trauma and well-being later in life. It specifically looks at childhood experiences of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or family dysfunction, etc. ACE scores are highly associated with serious emotional problems, health risk behaviors, social problems, adult disease and disability, and mortality. As staff better understand trauma, we can safely help those we serve as they explore and learn to cope with their traumatic issues. Our staff understand that trauma takes time to heal. It will not happen overnight. It involves us patiently helping the individual feel safe, supporting physical needs, building self-esteem, encouraging hope, teaching skills, inspiring goal setting, and assisting in the establishment of healthy relationships.
This part of our program, we couldn’t do without the kindness, support and generosity of others. We thank you for your support of our program and the work we do.