By Melvin Bui
The East Los Angeles Women’s Center taught mindful techniques that can be used to help victims of domestic violence find resources and support. Trauma and Healing, the interactive workshop, was held on Monday in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month via Zoom.
The main topic of discussion was how violence and traumatic events affect individuals and communities. The overall goal of the workshop was to learn and discuss beneficial resources that can be used to help people that are dealing with the effects of trauma. ELAWC Health Navigators Alejandra Avelino and Luis Mendoza facilitated the workshop. Avelino led the discussion while Mendoza helped relay things that were written in the chat box.
Avelino told participants that they were free to walk away from the screen and get a breath of fresh air when sensitive topics were to arise. “Your well being is important to us, don’t forget to breathe,” Avelino said.
The three major forms of trauma discussed were: Big T trauma, small T trauma and complex trauma. One trauma is not worse than the other, they are all equally detrimental to people. “Trauma impacts our health,” Avelino said.
Big T trauma is cultivated after experiencing large natural disasters, acts of terrosim or chronic violence.
Small T trauma starts after experiencing a dog bite, minor accidents or a medical procedure.
Complex trauma begins at a young age and affects people throughout their life. It starts after experiencing oppression, discrimination, racism or homophobia. The medical definition of trauma is a wound. However the psychology definition of it means a psychological wound.
It is a result of extremely traumatic events that shatters people’s sense of security, making them feel helpless. Some common reactions that people feel after traumatizing events include emotional numbness, nightmares, mood swings, guilt for surviving, loss of hope and memory loss. Healing is different for everybody. Some can heal within days, while others can take months or years. Avelino said that the reason friends or loved ones don’t help is because they don’t understand or might have trauma themselves.
Seeking professional help for trauma can provide emotional security, diminish the impact of trauma, provide tools to deal with stress and connect people with the proper resources.
Avelino said that there is always help available for people that are feeling suicidal. “It is scary to feel vulnerable and to disclose what has happened to us,” said Avelino. She said that people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have a higher risk of suicide.
Being mindful is a crucial technique that can help people respond to stress with awareness of what is happening in the present moment. Avelino said that it is important to stay grounded and connected to the present.
The three steps that can be taken toward helping people with trauma are stabilization, grounding and intervention. Stabilization is seeking help from loved ones or friends to diminish trauma. Grounding is trying to be conscious in the present. Grounding doesn’t require meditation. It can just be living in the moment. Intervention is talking to a therapist or counselor about trauma.
“Everyone has a right to have a present and future that are not completely dominated and dictated by the past,” said Clinical Psychologist Karen Saakvitne.
The ELAWC has a crisis hotline that is available 24/7. For more information, contact 1-(800)-585-6231.
For more information on the bilingual HIV hotline, contact 1-(800)-400-7432.