What the Heck is “Trauma” Anyway?

What the heck IS “Trauma” anyway?

It’s pretty logical that one scary situation causes another.  Little Bobby Joe watches a scary movie his parents didn’t know about.  In the scary movie a big monster attacks a little boy after jumping out from under the bed.  Bobby Joe slams the TV off in fear. (Scary situation #1)  That night Little Bobby Joe is crying at bed time and refuses to accept that he is safe in his own room. (Scary situation #2, caused by #1)  Both situation’s fears are real and similar, but one definitely caused another.  Also, just because the threat isn’t real, doesn’t mean the fear isn’t.

There is no “fix it” button for trauma.  As much as I hate that there’s not… no such button exists.  I feel pressure from myself and others around me to follow a series of tactics or to mark off a specialized check list that holds the magic cure, but still… nothing short of gradual improvement.  I’ve always been very hard on myself too– no one wants a lightning speed recovery more than I do.  I guess this is why I get so frustrated with other people’s unending suggestions for happiness.  Don’t they think I’m trying to be better?  I’m not a dumb person– I’m doing the research, I’m doing the hard work.  I don’t need unsolicited people to bombard me with “Are you better yet?’s” because I’m doing enough of that on my own.

Trauma is its own monster, with its timeline, personality, and quicks that are completely separate from the person who possess it.  Until you intimately learn how your own trauma operates it’s an ugly process that moves much slower than most would like.  To me, one of the most bizarre aspects of this process is that the symptoms of an initial traumatic instance may not show up until years later. This is what happened with me and is part of my new favored word, frustration. I felt a fake “fine” for years after the trauma began but it was when I finally got into a safe environment that most of the symptoms of that trauma appeared.  It was then that I began to experience weird reactions to normal things.  Crowds that I used to love started to freak me out or I’d be sitting on the couch and my heart would started to randomly beat rapidly.  Where I used to be in complete denial of my abuse, I started to replace that numbness with feelings of shame and guilt.

Trauma is tricky to say the least and has all of these scientific labels attached to it.  All I know is that it feels like I have some horrible disease… complete with the lack of understanding from most doctors and the unfortunate social stigma that AIDS/HIV used to carry.  I don’t like feeling so different from the rest of society, like I have this huge secret that no ones knows (which is actually all true I suppose).  I wish my circumstance was as simple as Little Bobby Joe’s and his fear of nighttime monsters under his bed.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

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  1. you dissociated. emotional numbness is where ptsd saved your life. that’s a good thing. shame and guilt are steps on the way to recovery. i know it doesn’t feel that way, but you’re making progress! you’ve really come so so far!!

  2. I totally get this. My parents are always looking for the quick fix for me. They even sometimes say I don’t want to get better! I’m trying my hardest to get through the trauma of sexual slavery, but it’s just so long and hard. Anyway, I definitely know how you feel.

    • Oh I HATE that comment about “not wanting to get better”! So sorry Jack – that’s definitely coming from a place of misunderstanding isn’t it?


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