Healing From Trauma Related to Gun Violence

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Healing From Trauma Related to Gun Violence

Gun violence is, unfortunately, an all too common issue across our nation. Incidents of gun violence occur in homes, schools, shopping malls, places of worship, and other places that most people expect to be safe. There is often a lot of political focus on these incidents and what should be changed moving forward. However, the people who survive these events are often overlooked and left to suffer their trauma in silence. Some people are made to feel as if they should be considered grateful that they are still alive, despite what they have gone through. 

This notion is often of very little help to these victims, many of whom go on to suffer from a variety of mental health issues, including survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Gun violence-related trauma can affect a victim physically, emotionally, and mentally. When the victim refuses to confront their feelings head-on, they may find that the effects of their trauma will impact them later on, even years after their experience occurred. As a result of this stress, the individual is prone to behaviors like substance use as a way of coping with the pain. This spiral can lead to addiction and other serious problems in the future. 

Understanding What Trauma Is 

Trauma is a distressing incident that involves shock and denial. Later on, it can often be associated with helplessness, hopelessness, and being overwhelmed. Trauma can affect an individual physically, mentally, and behaviorally in a variety of ways. Some examples include: 

  • Fluctuations in sleeping patterns 
  • Changes in eating habits 
  • Feeling constantly on edge 
  • An inability to relax or experience calm 

Trauma can also affect an individual’s emotional and mental health. Some examples include: 

  • Misplaced feelings of guilt  
  • Feelings of disbelief 
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Regular nightmares 
  • Unwanted, intrusive thoughts 
  • Feelings of anxiety and panic 
  • A lack of hope towards one’s future or the possibility of things getting better 

Furthermore, trauma can affect an individual’s behavioral health moving forward. Some examples include: 

  • Feeling the need to isolate from family and friends 
  • No longer finding interest in hobbies once enjoyed 
  • Feeling the need to avoid every possible experience that could bring up the past traumatic event 

PTSD Triggers Specific to Gun Violence 

When someone struggling with PTSD as a result of gun violence is going about their day, they may come across triggers that remind them of their experience. For example, the sound of a car backfiring or fireworks going off can remind them of the sound of gunshots. The sound of a slamming door, glass breaking, or even someone yelling can take them back to that very day. This can be extremely distressing and can cause some people to want to avoid going out altogether. 

Some people with PTSD also experience flashbacks. Their flashbacks are much more powerful than mere memories. Flashbacks are intense episodes when a person physically and mentally feels like they are fully present in the moment that their trauma took place. The person may feel as if they need to run or fight, not realizing that they are safe. This experience can be very upsetting. 

Healing From PTSD 

If you are struggling with PTSD, it is important that you honor your feelings, no matter what they may be. There is no right or wrong way to feel when it comes to experiencing the trauma of gun violence. It’s perfectly normal to feel angry, guilty, and even hopeless. 

Furthermore, it’s important to recognize that you don’t have to feel this way forever. If you are struggling with this condition, your best option is to seek out the help of your primary treatment provider. They can help you not only by providing you with a diagnosis and a prescription if necessary, but they will also likely recommend a therapist for you to speak to. By working with a therapist, you can begin to work through not only what happened but how you feel about it. Your therapist can help you identify your triggers and begin the healing process. 

An important part of the healing process is the support of other people. When you experience trauma, it’s normal to feel as if you need to isolate yourself from your friends and family. You might feel as if they could never understand what you’re going through if they weren’t there when the event occurred. If this is the case, consider looking for support outside of your own family and friends. 

In fact, there are support groups out there composed of people who have experienced trauma related to gun violence. Through these groups, victims of gun violence can share their stories and know that those present truly understand what they are going through. Ultimately, the various support networks for trauma survivors allow individuals to connect with other victims in safe places while working to heal through professional support. 

Gun violence is, unfortunately, an all too common issue across our nation. It is occurring in homes, schools, shopping malls, places of worship, and other places that most expect to be safe. Those who survive incidents of gun violence typically live with a lot of trauma. When this trauma is not addressed, it can lead to mental and physical side effects that can affect their daily life. Many survivors also suffer from PTSD. Some turn to substance use to cope with the pain. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Kimberly Center can help. Call (855) 452-3683 today to learn about the types of services that we provide. 

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