March 16, 2019

Trauma Bomb Rapid Response Part Two: Balms and Salves

Hello Again Everyone,

      Thank you for stopping by again to read part two of the post on what you and your loved ones can do to provide rapid response help to your child in the immediate aftermath of a sexual abuse disclosure.   

      With damage control in mind, let's look back in history to explore what served as rapid response treatment for deep, devastating wounds, at a time when more sophisticated medical treatment was unavailable.  In ancient times, balms and salves, usually made from plant extracts, were quick remedies to help ease pain for the victim while the care teams were being assembled to get more effective treatment.  Today balms and salves still exist to help provide comfort for wounds while waiting for emergency care.  While we are not looking at traditional balms and salves as a curative for the blast of the sexual abuse trauma bomb, the concept can be hugely effective when adapted to providing your child with emotional and psychological relief from trauma of sexual abuse disclosure.  However, before we administer our balms and salves to our children, we need to stay away from BAD behavior that can happen when we are first told of the abuse.  If we as parents do not watch out for BAD behavior, then we run the risk of making the wounds of sexual abuse much worse through our crushing of the victim's remaining hope for help. We erode what remains of their self-value as a person that they connected with as a motivation to take action for themselves by getting help.  So what is BAD behavior?

BLAME: Do not blame the child for revealing their abuse to you or immediately seek someone else out to blame for the abuse.  Doing so is only destabilizing and does not provide any comfort to the child in the moment.  Blaming the child can be devastating to their remaining sense of self and contribute to deeper senses of being responsible for allowing their abuse to happen.
ANGER: Anger is a wonderful and natural emotion, however at such an emotionally volatile time as this, displaying anger can be very destabilizing to the child and to your ability to stay present and focused on providing comfort.  You are allowed to be angry and rightfully so, but be very careful how you let it out around your child.
DISMISS AND DOWNPLAY:  it's very natural to try and avoid horrible events by making them seem like they are less than what they are.  It's a very effective way at managing negative thoughts and emotions.  It's also a very effective way to guarantee that your child feels even more crushed by not being listened to or taken seriously.  By being dismissive of the trauma, you are being dismissive of the child's worth as an individual with a right to care and safety.

      When we engage in BAD behavior, we are reinforcing shame, guilt, fear and doubt.  These feelings are the tag team from heck with respect to helping the child who has been abused not only be willing to engage in the healing process but to feel safe that they have support and care to do so.  Your balms and salves will be no more effective than putting a bandaid over a severed limb unless you can engage your compassion, love, and understanding for what your child has endured when they detonate the trauma bomb.  
      So who gets balms and salves anyway?  Well, you both do!  Your child needs you to give rapid response balm treatment and you need to have a salve for yourself so you can provide care for your traumatic experience of having to learn of your child's sexual abuse.

Believe: Your child is telling you the truth no matter how horrific the trauma may sound.  Believing is the most crucial piece of the trauma recovery process.  Believing your child establishes you as their protector and ally.
Allow: Allow your child to tell you whatever they need to tell you, while being mindful of your emotional and psychological reaction.  Doing so sends a message of safety and promise that they can trust you to be there through the whole trauma process.
Love: Assure your child of your unconditional love and how much you value them.  Doing so is critical to your child's ability to seeing themselves as not being a worthless or less of a person.  Loving your child will help them re-establish love for themselves as they have a purpose to challenge self-loathing.
Make space: This is a hard one, but really important.  Your child may not be ready to tell you everything about the abuse; they may not be able to depending on the depth of the trauma and how they have held it up to now.  Give your child space to work on how they want to approach disclosing further information about the trauma.  Give your child space to work on their own reactions while you remain available to them with your love.
Safety and Stability:  Make sure your child is safe and not accessible to the perpetrator.  Be available to help your child cope with their disclosure and its accompanying reactions.  Doing so helps build a secure base to begin the healing process.

Stay focused and calm: While it is essential that you have time to process your own reactions to the disclosure of trauma, right now during rapid response your efforts need to be focused on providing safety and compassion for your child. This is where you can start applying BALMS to your child.  Take some deep breaths and allow yourself to have time to think through your responses so they are measured and cproject a sense of control over the situation.  How would you want someone to help you?
Assure: Remind your child that they are safe and that they are still loved even after disclosing the abuse.  Provide comfort and remind them that you will help them through the recovery process.
Locate love and support: Your child's trauma is also your trauma.  You cannot be expected to help your child alone.  Doing so will lead to burn out for you and greater difficulty for your child if you do not have your own support network to help you with your experience.
Validate your experience: All thoughts and feelings are real and relevant.  You will likely experience a wide range of emotional responses so let yourself experience them as being real and alright to have.  Your own support network is critical.
Empower: You are now tasked with beginning the damage control and clean-up process following the explosion of the trauma bomb.  Remember that you are resilient and have been trusted with helping your child achieve mastery over their traumatic experience.  While difficult you and your child are already taking charge and working toward recovery by remaining grounded and focusing on emotional and psychological stability.

Balms and salves are excellent for rapid response trauma care but they are not only useful for the immediate aftermath of the explosion.  As you go through later steps of the explosion damage response and future healing process, you will need to keep your balms and salves handy for everyone as a source of relief to the ongoing pain.  Thank you for reading and I hope that you go into action remembering that you are strong and you are precious to your child.  They need you more than ever.  You can do this!


4 comments:

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