Healing from trauma: How supports systems and safe spaces can help

Healing from trauma: How supports systems and safe spaces can help

Healing from trauma: How supports systems and safe spaces can help

High levels of stress and trauma can sabotage the process of the brain working in sync with the body. This disconnection seems to work as a defense mechanism to resist the pain that would otherwise be experienced by the victim (Wheeler, 2020). Emotional and Psychological trauma can be triggered by exceedingly stressful incidents which are most likely to leave the victim feeling insecure, anxious, numb and isolated.

The impact of trauma on a victim cannot be gauged objectively since it depends more on the subjective emotional experience of an event (Robinson et al., 2020). Developmental trauma stems from unpleasant or damaging events that might have taken place during the victim’s childhood years. Abandonment, rejection, neglect, betrayal, abuse (physical, emotional or sexual), or having witnessed a gory or violent scene, or someone dying a painful death can all lead to the victim suffering from Developmental Trauma (Aurora Psychology). Bessel can der Kolk, a well- known psychiatrist and investigator in the field of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), distinguished between, ‘private trauma’, and, ‘public trauma’. A victim suffers from private trauma if they were either raped, assaulted or abused, while ‘public trauma’ is the kind of trauma a victim suffers along with a group, such as, being hit by natural disasters, experiencing war times or surviving terrorist attacks (Petrillo et al., 2019).

The symptoms of psychological trauma include feelings of shock, denial or disbelief, lack of clarity, loss of ability to focus, frequently occurring mood swings, constant irritability, blaming oneself and living in a constant state of guilt, shying away from company, a constant sense of hopelessness, lack of interest and motivation, numbness. Physical symptoms of trauma include insomnia, frequently occurring nightmares, constant fatigue, being alarmed easily, abnormally fast paced heartbeat, frequent aches and pains, and muscle tension (Robinson et al., 2020).

Trauma, among other effects, can have an adverse impact on relationships which is where a personal support system would help immensely. Victims should be surrounded by well- meaning people who take care of them and love them unconditionally. A victim hesitates while forming new bonds or even while asking for help or assistance. It becomes difficult for trauma victims to trust others and they fear people might exploit them. However, in order to avoid any feelings of distress while opening up to others, it is advisable that victims open up at their own pace rather than exposing themselves right away. A support system might consist of mentors, advisors, mainly adults who are in a position to give useful advice based on their own experiences. Teachers, spiritual leaders, elders or advisors can also be included in the list. It is also advisable that the victim seek help from professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors (Manitoba Trauma Information & Education Centre, 2013).

After going through a traumatic experience the victim is likely to feel unsafe, both emotionally and physically, even in the absence of any real threat. Flashbacks of unpleasant events or memories, or something as minor as a familiar smell or touch can trigger the nervous system and cause anxiety, depression, panic attacks etc. The aim is to reconnect the functions of the mind
and body so that victims feel more in control of their reactions. This can be accomplished by creating a physically safe environment at home or where the victims spend most of their time. Creating a coping kit can help, such as maybe decorating an old shoe box using glue and glitter, going through photographs that bring back good memories or pictures depicting scenic beauty, going through or putting up inspirational quotes from where they can be seen and read clearly.
One corner of the room can be transformed into a, ‘Coping Corner’, by adding art supplies, music and favorite books so that this becomes a place of refuge for the victim. Other self- soothing strategies vary from one individual to the other, for some baking might be an effective way of soothing the nerves while for someone else painting or writing might work well (Wheeler, 2020).

The remedies for trauma vary from person to person, depending on the type of trauma experienced. Some forms of trauma can be cured by self- help strategies but more serious trauma victims, along with self- help techniques, require professional help.



  • Robinson Lawrence, Smith Melinda, A.M and Segal Jeanne, “Emotional and Psychological Trauma”, Help Guide, February 2020, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/coping-with-emotional-and-psychological-trauma.htm.
  • Petrillo Madeline, Thomas Megan, Hanspal Sophie, “Healing Trauma Emotional Report”, University of Portsmouth, 2019,
  • https://www.stephaniecovington.com/assets/files/HT%20evaluation%20full%20report%20June%202019.pdf
  • Wheeler Lindsay, “The 3 Pillars for Creating a Safe Space: Managing Trauma Symptoms During COVID- 19”, High Focus Centers, May 18, 2020.
  • https://highfocuscenters.pyramidhealthcarepa.com/the-3-pillars-for-creating-a-safe-space-managing-trauma-symptoms-during-covid-19/
  • Different Types of Trauma, https://www.aurorapsychology.com.au/different-types-of-trauma
  • Manitoba Trauma Information & Education Centre, Building a Support System, Trauma Recovery, 2013, https://trauma-recovery.ca/recovery/building-a-support-system/


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