How can I help?
Understand that trauma can happen to anyone and everyone.
In fact, 2 of 3 people in Singapore reported experiencing a traumatic event during their lifetime. The prevalence of trauma emphasises the importance of building trauma-informed communities that facilitate healing and recovery, and that actively avoid retraumatisation for survivors.
Practise empathy and active listening.
Create a safe space for conversation without judging their story, and enforce a mutual relationship of trust and respect. One doesn’t have to be a therapist in order to be therapeutic. The basis of trauma-informed care in daily interactions is formed on the belief that “Healing happens in relationships”. These relationships can enable the survivor the opportunity to process their emotions and experiences as part of their recovery.
We must also shift our mindset to stop defaulting to the question of “What is wrong with you?” , and instead ask: “What happened to you?”.
Where trauma is involved, bad behaviour is not a consequence of a person’s character, but rather a person’s circumstance. Trauma is never the fault nor the choice of the victim, and symptoms of trauma are often an uncontrollable, conditioned response. Survivors don’t need to be told to ‘stop reacting that way’, or be given advice on how to ‘get over their trauma’. They need to be understood, affirmed and validated that what they have gone through is real. Yet, their experience does not have the right to steal their dignity and worth as a human being.
The best way to help a victim of trauma is to become trauma-informed.
There is no textbook answer to healing, because everybody experiences and responds differently to traumatic events. Educating ourselves on the events, experiences and effects of trauma is the first step to living in a way that promotes healing, wholeness and empowerment to partner with survivors to regain the sense of control that they deserve.