Tag Archives: Violence

How to Listen When Someone You Know Discloses Sexual Harassment or Assault

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This post is based on a longer article by Dr. Jennifer J. Freyd (Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon)

 

Every day now in the news, we learn of various actions taken by those facing allegations of sexual assault and harassment. One set of actions has to do with their reported sexual harassment and/or assaults. Another set of actions has to do with how they respond when accused. Both types of action are crucially important. A good response can at least do some good (sincere apologies can be healing). But a bad response not only exacerbates the harm of the first injury, it also inflicts new injury, and does so in ways that are usually public and ongoing (well past the media moving on).

 

It is very important to be a good listener when a friend or loved one discloses a difficult or upsetting experience like sexual assault or harassment. We know that respectful, compassionate, attentive, and authentic listening can be healing, while a controlling, blaming, and/or invalidating response can cause harm.

 

1. Do Not “DARVO” and Call It Out When You See It

DARVO stands for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.The perpetrator or offender may:

  • Deny the behavior,
  • Attack the individual doing the confronting, and
  • Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender.

DARVO is a particularly pernicious response to disclosure and can cause harm. For more on DARVO see this page.

 

2. Be a Well-Intentioned and Respectful Listener

Many people want to respond well to a disclosure but may not know how. Here are some guidelines to help people and institutions respond well to disclosures of violence and distressing events. These suggestions are drawn from research findings¹

  • Respect the survivor’s autonomy and² strengths
  • Validate the survivor and indicate that the responsibility for the violence is with the perpetrator(s)
  • Stay engaged and focused on the survivor’s needs and validate the survivor’s strengths
  • When it is possible and appropriate, sincerely apologize
  • Do not invalidate, blame or pathologize the survivor
  • Do not take away the survivor’s autonomy 

 

3. Be a Compassionate Listener²

These suggestions are drawn from instructions that address listening skills in the moment.

 

First, it is important to use attentive body language. 

 

  • Do not make inappropriate facial expressions (e.g., smiling when someone is discussing a sad topic, rolling your eyes, raising your eyebrows when hearing how someone coped) and do not move your body too much (e.g., excessive fidgeting, playing with your cell phone).

 

  • Do sit in a posture (e.g., leaning forward or upright) and use gestures that convey engagement (e.g., nodding).

 

  • Do maintain consistent, not constant or darting, eye contact (look directly at the person for brief periods of 3-6 seconds, then look away briefly before reconnecting).

 

Second, it is important to use verbal skills that encourage the speaker to continue.

 

  • Do not change the topic or ask questions that are off-topic. This may seem like a way to decrease your anxiety or make the other person more comfortable, but it often has the opposite effect.

 

  • Do allow silence and convey that you are listening by using encouraging words like “hmmm” and “uh-huh” periodically.

 

  • Do state/name/reflect back the emotion being described.  It might also help you to imagine yourself in the speaker’s place and look at the situation from his/her perspective.

Examples:

“Wow – sounds like it was scary for you.” 

“It seems like you feel really sad about that.”

“I feel like that must’ve made you angry.”

 

  • Do ask questions if you are confused, and try to ask questions that require more than one word.

Instead of:

“Was that scary?” 

“Do you mean it wasn’t that bad?”

 

Ask questions like:

“Could you tell me a little bit more about that?” 

“What was that like for you?” 

“What do you mean when you say ____?”

 

Third, it is important to use words in a way that convey support. 

 

  • Do not reassure the person in a way that might minimize their experience

Examples:

“That happened so long ago, maybe it would help to try move on.”

“It’s not worth the energy to keep thinking about it.”

“Don’t be scared.”

 

  • Do not make judgments or evaluations about their responses or decisions

Examples:

“Couldn’t you do/say ______ instead?”

“I don’t think you should worry about it anymore.”

“I think it’d be better for you to _____.”

“Why don’t you ____?”

 

  • Do validate the person’s emotions in a genuine tone

(Examples: “If that happened to me, I can imagine I’d feel really overwhelmed too.”  “Given that experience, it makes sense you’d feel/say/do ________.”  “I think many people with that experience would have felt similarly.”)

 

  • Do point out the person’s strengths

Examples:

“I’m amazed at how much courage that took.” 

“You’ve done a great job at keeping everything in perspective.” 

“I really admire your strength.” 

“I’m impressed with how you’ve dealt with this.”

 

  • Do focus on their experience rather than your own and only give advice when it is requested.

 

When family and friends listen with respect and compassion they can help survivors on their paths to healing. To receive confidential support following a sexual assault, please contact the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

 

Biography:

 

Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. She received her PhD in Psychology from Stanford University. Freyd directs a laboratory investigating the impact of interpersonal and institutional trauma on mental and physical health, behavior, and society. The author or coauthor of 200 articles, Freyd is also the author of the Harvard Press award-winning book Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse. Her book Blind to Betrayal, co-authored with Pamela J. Birrell, was published in 2013, with seven additional translations. In 2014, Freyd was invited two times to the U.S. White House due to her research on sexual assault and institutional betrayal. Freyd has received numerous awards including being named a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and an Erskine Fellow at The University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In April 2016, Freyd was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation.  Freyd currently serves as the Editor of The Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. You can follow Dr. Freyd on Twitter at @jjforegon.

 

References:

 

¹For example, Ullman, S. E., & Peter-Hagene, L. (2014). Social reactions to sexual assault disclosure, coping, perceived control, and PTSD symptoms in sexual assault victims. J. Community Psychology, 42: 495-508. doi: 10.1002/jcop.21624. Also these suggestions are drawn from Freyd & Birrell (2013), Blind to Betrayal.

²These instructions were used in a study by: Foynes, M.M., & Freyd, J.J. (2011). The impact of skills training on responses to the disclosure of mistreatment. Psychology of Violence, 1, 66-77. The particular wording of these instructions was designed to match a control condition in our study. (See http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/jjf/disclosure for the specific experimental and control materials).

 


Filed under: Human Rights and Social Justice, Violence Tagged: discrimination, gender discrimination, harassment, sexual assault, sexual harassment, supporting victims, violence against women

What is One Simple Thing You Can Do to Prevent Gun Violence at School? Say Something

 

 

By Julia Mancini (Intern, APA Office on Children, Youth and Families)

 

It is crucial for schools to be supportive environments for youth learning and growth. Too often, they become places of violence and fear. Nationwide, it has been found that 6% of children do not go to school at least once a month because they fear for their own safety at or on their way to school1. This shows that this place that should foster healthy development can be a source of traumatic experiences. Further, violent and toxic school environments are all too common and hinder educational, social and personal development. School should be a place where children can express themselves and be comfortable reaching their maximum potential.

On December 14th, 2012, 20 first graders and 6 educators were shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This tragedy has been central to many of the conversations surrounding gun violence in schools and hits close to home for many.

Research has shown that when it comes to violence, suicide and threats, most are known by at least one other individual before the incident takes place.

 

Imagine how much tragedy could be averted if these individuals said something?

Say Something Week raises much needed awareness and educates the community, students, and educators through media events, advertising, public proclamations, contests, and school awards. It provides the confidence and tools to create a safer and healthier school environment. It is important to create positive dialogue around school safety in order to be proactive against community violence and fear.

Say Something Week empowers children to help others and prevent tragedies. They are taught to ‘Say Something’ to a trusted adult to prevent a friend from harming themselves or others. This programing has the potential to save lives in the communities it reaches. Though it is a daunting task to ensure that no student ever has to go to school in fear, campaigns such as Say Something Week can work with schools and youth programs to maximize their safety, learning, and potential.

 

What is Say Something Week?

While there is no simple solution to this problem, Striving to Prevent Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE) and Sandy Hook Promise are partnering to implement the Second Annual Say Something Week.

STRYVE is a multi-sector consortium of organizations that work nationally to support local youth violence prevention efforts in states and communities. Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. They are led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting. SHP is focused on preventing gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) before it happens by educating and mobilizing youth and adults on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals. Their goal is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning their tragedy into a moment of transformation.

 

How can you be a part of this?

Consider joining Sandy Hook Promise, the American Psychological Association, and thousands of other school and youth organizations for the second annual Say Something Week from October 16-20th.  To sign up, visit: http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/saysomethingweek

 

References:

1 School Violence: Data and Statistics . (2017, August 22). Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/data_stats.html

 

Biography:

Julia Mancini is currently a junior Psychology and Criminal Justice double major at George Washington University. Julia has a particular interest in children and families and is excited to be interning with the Children, Youth and Families office this fall. Julia has been involved with behavioral genetic research through The Boston University Twin Project. She also worked as a Clinical Research Intern at Safe Shores, DC’s Children’s Advocacy Center, investigating disparities in PTSD presentations among minority youth. This past summer Julia interned for the Child Protection Unit in the District Attorney’s office in her home state of Massachusetts. She also had the opportunity to work internationally with a non-profit in Cochabamba, Bolivia that provides psychological, legal, and social services to child survivors of sexual violence.


Filed under: Children and Youth, Violence Tagged: #STRYVE, children's mental health, gun violence, gun violence prevention, Say Something Week, school safety, school shootings, suicide prevention, teen suicide, youth violence

Are You Talking to Parents About Keeping Guns Away from Children? 5 Reasons You Absolutely Should

A small child staring at a hand gun within reach on a table

By Clinton W. Anderson, PhD (Interim Executive Director, Public Interest Directorate, American Psychological Association)

Psychologists are recognized as having important knowledge about psychological health and development. That is why parents routinely seek our advice on a wide range of issues affecting their children’s well-being. However, protecting children from gun violence is a rarely broached topic. June 21 is National ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Day. Launched in 2000 by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the ASK campaign reminds health professionals, parents, and caregivers of the importance of asking if there are unlocked guns in the homes where children live and play.

 

Once this question is asked, a frank discussion about protecting children from the dangers of gun violence can begin. Although the conversation may be awkward, having it could potentially save their child’s life. And yes, psychologists and other health professionals are well within their rights to do so. A federal appeals court in Florida recently ruled that state laws prohibiting doctor-patient discussions of guns violated the First Amendment. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors and nurses address firearm safety as part of their routine guidance with patients and parents.  As psychologists, we have extensive education and training that equip us to understand and communicate the dangers of guns in the home. Regardless of our areas of expertise or professional setting, we have a vital role to play.

Here’s why:

1. Firearm safety is a public health issue:

Gun violence has leached into every aspect of our American way of life. It occurs in every setting whether Americans are at work, at play, at worship, at school, or at home. Our efforts to prevent gun violence need to be informed by the best evidence.

2. Children often have far too easy access to guns:

Parents should be aware that guns are like Christmas presents – kids will find them no matter how well hidden they are. Many parents have unrealistic expectations about their kids’ behavior toward guns. High-quality research shows that training kids to stay away from or not handle guns does not work. We must communicate to parents that the best preventive measure against gun injury or death among children is removing guns from the household entirely.

3. Developmental factors contribute to risk of gun violence for children:

Many parents are unaware of the developmental factors that make keeping firearms in the home risky for children. For instance, they underestimate the inquisitiveness of young children who are primed to explore and test boundaries. Many don’t even realize that 2- or 3-year-olds possess the strength to pull a gun’s trigger. Similarly, during the teen years, traits like impulsivity, a sense of invulnerability, and temporary but intense feelings of despondency contribute to risk of firearm use. Some experts counsel that it is best not to have guns at all in a home with teenagers. Psychologists and other health professionals can help parents understand these risk factors.

4. Children with behavioral problems are at greater risk:

Parents with children showing behavioral health problems should consider that these problems may elevate risk of harm when there are accessible firearms in the home.  If they have children or teens with mood disorders, substance abuse (including alcohol), or a history of suicide attempts, encourage them to remove or restrict access to firearms. Arrange for the adult to talk to a psychologist or pediatrician if questions persist.

5. If guns are in the home, they should be treated like all other household dangers:

We routinely tell parents to take precautions to make their homes as safe as possible for their children. We tell them to keep household cleaners, prescription medicines, and even alcohol and cigarettes out of their children’s reach. Households and families with firearms should treat guns the same way.

  • Encourage parents to store all firearms at another location – alternate storage options include:
    • at another licensed gun owner’s home
    • in a secure storage unit
    • in a bonded warehouse for gun storage
  • If adults insist on keeping firearms in the home, emphasize that it is critical to store guns unloaded, in a securely locked location, and with ammunition stored in a separate locked container. One caveat: although locked storage provides some protection, parents should know that it may not prove effective against children’s creativity, curiosity, and persistence.
  • If their child will be spending time in another family’s home, advise parents to ASK whether there are guns in the home, and if so, how they are stored before sending their child over to play.

We all have a responsibility to reduce the risk of gun violence in America, particularly for our youngest citizens. It starts with you:

 

Acknowledgments:

I would like to thank Susan Sorenson, PhD, (Director, Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence), and W. Rodney Hammond, PhD, (retired Director of the Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control) for sharing their input and expertise for this blog post.

 

Image source: iStockPhoto


Filed under: Children and Youth, Health and Wellness, Violence Tagged: accidental death, ASK day, children's health, children's mental health, firearm safety, firearm violence, gun safety, gun violence, gun violence prevention, homicide, parenting, parenting tips, public health, suicide

We Lose Too Many Vietnam Veterans to Suicide: Here’s How You Can Help

 

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By Megan Lacy (Doctoral Student, Palo Alto University)

 

As our Vietnam veteran population ages, many may become increasingly vulnerable for death by suicide. Despite the fact that the Vietnam war occurred approximately 40 years ago, the moral injuries sustained are still felt by many who served our country. It is not unusual for Vietnam Veterans to have coped with difficult times by staying busy at home or at work. As retirement looms, it is not unusual for Vietnam era veterans to experience additional age-related risks such as social isolation, a feeling of burdensomeness, and changes in health status.

These changes can coalesce to hamper coping strategies that previously worked to manage mental distress, such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Alcohol and substance use increases the risk of suicide as the abuse of substances, particularly alcohol, is strongly associated with both suicide attempts and deaths. So what should friends and family watch out for and what could be done in response to warning signs?

 

Warning signs:

In general, individuals most at risk of suicide are white older adult males who have health issues. As risk factors associated with veteran status converge on risk factors associated with later life , there are a few specific things friends and family should be aware of.

 

What’s going on in their life?

  • A major change in routine including retirement or loss of a job
  • The death of a spouse
  • A new medical diagnosis
  • A break up, separation or divorce
  • Not having a stable place to live
  • Inadequate family income

 

How are they behaving?

  • Increase in drinking or drug use
  • Sleeping considerably more or less
  • A loss of interest in things they typically enjoy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Impulsivity – engaging in risky behavior (running red lights, driving recklessly, looking like they have a “death wish”)
  • Becoming aggressive- examples of this are punching holes in walls, seeking revenge, getting into fights
  • Anxiety- worrying excessively about things they cannot control
  • Agitation and mood swings
  • Putting affairs in order such as giving away prized possessions or making out a will
  • Seeking out firearms access to pills
  • Neglecting personal welfare including deteriorating physical appearance or hygiene

 

What are they saying?

  • A sense of hopelessness:
    • “I have no purpose”
    • “I have no value”
    • “Nothing is ever going to get better”
  • Rage or anger: expressed toward people or things
  • Expressed feelings of excessive guilt, shame or failure:
    • My family would be better off without me”
  • Feelings of desperation:
    • “There is no solution”
    • “I just feel trapped”

 

What do they have access to?

Familiarity and access to a firearm makes suicide by firearm more likely. Any means by which a suicide can be attempted, including pills, is something that should be asked about. Veterans are more likely to own a gun and be comfortable using one making death by firearm a common means of suicide among this population.

 

How can you help?

Social support is one of the most effective protective factors against suicide (Cummings et al., 2015). However,  many veterans have isolated themselves and their friends and family struggle to talk to them. Inviting them to an event, writing them a letter or participating in a shared activity (building something, fishing, walking, etc.) are great ways to get things started.

Talk about it. Suicide is an uncomfortable topic but its best to be direct. Ask overtly if they are planning on killing themselves or have had thoughts about killing themselves. Just because they say no doesn’t mean that they don’t still have suicidal intentions so be sure to have additional information to provide such as a suicide hotline number for veterans, apps they could utilize (PTSD Coach), or a therapist’s contact information.

If your loved one has a plan or tell you they are going to kill themselves, call 911. Its better to put their safety first. Demonstrating your support by seeking additional help is always best. If you can, include them in the process of seeking immediate help. Calling 911 or visiting the ER does not have to be a one-sided decision.

These by no means are the only risk factors, signs or solutions for suicidality. However, engagement with friends and family has shown to be extremely effective against suicide. Demonstrating your support with regular calls or visits is an important step toward safety for many veterans.

 

Related Resources:

APA Psychology Topic: Suicide

Resources for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans

When Will We Face the Facts about Suicide in Older Men?

 

References:

 

Chronic PTSD in Vietnam combat veterans: Course of illness and substance abuse (1996). American Journal of Psychiatry, 153(3), 369–375. doi:10.1176/ajp.153.3.369

Conner, K. R., Britton, P. C., Sworts, L. M., & Joiner, T. E. (2007). Suicide attempts among individuals with opiate dependence: The critical role of belonging. Addictive Behaviors, 32(7), 1395–1404. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2006.09.012

Conwell, Y., Van Orden, K., & Caine, E. D. (2011). Suicide in older adults. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America , 34(2), . Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3107573/

Cummins, N., Scherer, S., Krajewski, J., Schnieder, S., Epps, J., & Quatieri, T. F. (2015). A review of depression and suicide risk assessment using speech analysis. Speech Communication, 71, 10–49. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2015.03.004

Identifying signs of crisis. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/SignsOfCrisis/Identifying.aspx

Lambert, M. T., & Fowler, R. D. (1997). Suicide risk factors among veterans: Risk management in the changing culture of the department of veterans affairs. The Journal of Mental Health Administration, 24(3), 350–358. doi:10.1007/bf02832668

Lester, D. (2003). Unemployment and suicidal behaviour. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 57(8), 558–559. doi:10.1136/jech.57.8.558

Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC) Newsroom. (2017, January 28). Retrieved February 26, 2017, from https://msrc.fsu.edu/news/study-reveals-top-reason-behind-soldiers-suicides

Nademin, E., Jobes, D. A., Pflanz, S. E., Jacoby, A. M., Ghahramanlou-Holloway, M., Campise, R., Johnson, L. (2008). An investigation of interpersonal-psychological variables in air force suicides: A controlled-comparison study. Archives of Suicide Research, 12(4), 309–326. doi:10.1080/13811110802324847

Price, J. L. (2016, February 23). Findings from the national Vietnam veterans’ readjustment study. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/research-bio/research/vietnam-vets-study.asp

United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (July, 2016) VA Suicide Prevention Program: Facts about Veteran Suicide. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/Suicide_Prevention_FactSheet_New_VA_Stats_070616_1400.pdf

Van Orden, K. A., Witte, T. K., Gordon, K. H., Bender, T. W., & Joiner, T. E. (2008). Suicidal desire and the capability for suicide: Tests of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior among adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(1), 72–83. doi:10.1037/0022-006x.76.1.72

Van Orden, K. A., Witte, T. K., Cukrowicz, K. C., Braithwaite, S. R., Selby, E. A., & Joiner Jr, E. (2010). The interpersonal theory of suicide. Psychological review117(2), 575.

Warning signs of crisis. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/SignsOfCrisis/

 

Image source: Flickr user Elvert Barnes via Creative Commons


Filed under: Aging, Violence Tagged: depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, suicide, suicide prevention, trauma, veterans, vietnam veterans

Historical Trauma in the Present: Why APA Cannot Remain Silent on the Dakota Access Pipeline

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By Susan H. McDaniel, PhD (2016 APA President)

Protesters being marked with numbers, put in dog kennels and shot with rubber bullets. These do not sound like events that should occur in modern day America. Unfortunately, according to media reports, these are some of the first-hand accounts of what is happening in North Dakota as protests escalate over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

For those unfamiliar with the dispute between environmental and human rights protesters on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and law enforcement, I would invite to you read the New York Times detailed summary of events. In short, there is a growing perception of injustice as a 1,172-mile oil pipeline that is slated to run from North Dakota to Illinois was rerouted near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation due its potential threat of contamination to Bismarck, North Dakota’s water supply.

Native Americans have been historically marginalized and mistreated by the United States. For instance, not all States recognized Native Americans’ right to vote until 1957 and many tribes experienced great loss of life, land and culture as the result of State and Federal legislation.

According to the psychological literature, chronic, systemic loss and mistreatment, as described above, may lead to historical trauma in which the pain experienced by one generation transfers to subsequent generations through biological, psychological, environmental, and social means. Studies show that historical trauma is linked to health disparities, including increased likelihood of early death due to chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, unintentional injuries, assault/homicide, and suicide.

APA’s mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.” This mission makes it incumbent upon our field and our association to speak out when the health and well-being of marginalized and other populations are being threatened and when possible to prevent trauma from occurring.

Due to the current proposed placement of the Dakota Access pipeline, we are concerned about possible leakage, which could harm the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. As psychologists, we are troubled by the potential for adverse neurological effects arising from exposure to oil-contaminated water.

In response to current events, I sent a letter on behalf of APA to President Obama with Dr. Jacqueline Gray, President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race (APA Division 45) that expressed:

  • Our support for the Administration’s hold on the construction of the oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation, and praise for his consideration of alternate routes for the project; and
  • A request to urge law enforcement to show restraint as they try to diffuse the conflict.

It is critical that APA and the mental health community continue to show our support and bring attention to the issues impacting Native American communities and to help alleviate historical trauma.

In closing, I recommend you sign up for APA’s Federal Action Network to influence policy makers and make sure your voice is heard on critical issues in the future.

Dr. McDaniel is president of the American Psychological Association.

 

Image source: Flickr via Creative Commons.


Filed under: Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Health Disparities, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: #DAPL, #noDAPL, American Indians, Dakota Access Pipeline, environmental racism, health disparities, historical trauma, human rights, human rights abuses, law enforcement, Native Americans, police brutality, public health, public policy, racism, trauma, violence, water is life

How Do We Prevent Youth Violence? It Starts with Tolerance and Respect

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Kelsey Dunn (Summer 2016 Intern, APA Children, Youth and Families Office)

 

According to the United Nations, tolerance is “respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.” November 16th is annually celebrated as the International Day for Tolerance, which promotes the recognizing of human rights and highlights the diversity in our global community.

Violence prevention, especially in relation to our youth, begins with introducing the idea of acceptance across various levels of diversity, including race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, and more. Through tolerance, we can teach youth to respect each other and reduce feelings of indifference towards groups of different backgrounds.

Through this heightened awareness of and acceptance of others, youth violence can be reduced, and prevented. There are small steps to fighting intolerance, some of which require:

  • Law – each government across the globe is responsible for protecting human rights.
  • Education – teaching others not to fear the unknown, as this breeds ignorance versus acceptance. Encourage youth to be curious and open-minded about their own and other cultures.
  • Access to information – develop programs and policies that encourage the idea of freedom of press, which can in turn encourage a public outpouring of different opinions and facts.
  • Individual awareness – encourage individuals, and especially our youth, to become aware of the impact between their personal behavior and the cycle of violence in society. How can your direct actions influence the safety of your world?
  • Local solutions – most global problems have solutions embedded in the local and national levels, and nonviolent action from the masses can have a large influence on confronting and ending violence and intolerance.

 

What can you do to help?

 

Promote tolerance within your own organization or community by celebrating the International Day of Tolerance on November 16th.

Spread awareness and the message of tolerance, as well, by working with the STRYVE Action Council to make changes in preventing youth violence.

Join the conversation – use #STRYVE on social media.

Find trainings and other resources to start working on stopping youth violence before it starts: http://vetoviolence.cdc.gov/apps/stryve.

 

Biography:

Ms. Dunn is a senior at the University of South Florida majoring in Social Work. She is a Bright Futures Scholar, an AP Scholar, and a Take Stock in Children Scholar. She recently completed The Washington Center internship, with placement in the APA Children, Youth and Families Office.

Image source: Flickr via Creative Commons

 

 

 


Filed under: Children and Youth, Violence Tagged: Diversity, International Day for Tolerance, respect, tolerance, violence, violence prevention, youth violence

How Can We Help Survivors of Domestic Violence Struggling with Homelessness?

Worried Child

By Stephanie Hargrove (Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student, George Mason University)

It is an unfortunate reality that many women and children who are able to escape their abuser end up homeless. A recent survey found that 17 percent of cities cited domestic violence as the primary cause of family homelessness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2014). This prevalent issue is something that many people do not realize is happening. Here are some of the myths about domestic violence and homelessness that need to be dispelled.

 

Myth Busters:

Only women can experience domestic violence

  • In fact, domestic violence can happen to anyone, men, women and children. The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person”. Domestic violence is abuse that occurs in the home by a family member or intimate partner. Therefore, even children who are abused by their parents experience domestic violence.
  • However, it is true that DV survivors are primarily women. More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

 

People who are experiencing DV can leave anytime they want

People end up homeless or in poverty because of their own bad decisions

People who are affluent now, will never end up homeless

  • There are many survivors of DV who are affluent. There are also several cases of women who lost their homes and finances because their abuser took it all and they did what was necessary to survive.

 

So what does homelessness due to domestic violence look like in real life?

Imagine you have endured days, months, or even years of abuse at the hands of someone you love. One day you decide that it is no longer safe to remain in the same home as this person. Now what?

  • If you are married to this person, you made a commitment to love and honor this person for the rest of your life.
  • If you have children with this person you do not want the children to have to grow up without their other parent in their life.
  • If you are dating, you love and care about this person, you made plans with them and planned your future together.
  • If it is your parent, you are supposed to obey them, you rely on them for love, advice, support, and protection.

Imagine that despite the deep investment you have in this person, you decide that you must leave. Now what?

  • You have to figure out where you would go and how you would end the relationship – all the while knowing that this person has threatened you and your family if you were to leave.

Let’s say you manage to escape your abuser’s home unharmed. Now where do you go?

  • Your abuser made sure to isolate you from the rest of your family so they are not too sympathetic to your situation.
  • Even if you do manage to find a family member to stay with, it will most likely be temporary and it is not always safe to stay in places where your abuser knows they could find you.
  • So what’s another option? Maybe you could stay in a hotel. Well, that could work but that option will get pricey quickly. It’s not a long term solution.
  • How about find a new place to live? That is a long term solution but that takes money and time. If you have to work during the day it can be very difficult to search for a new home.
  • If you are living in poverty, the costly options are not options at all.
  • If you are middle class or affluent, all of your money may not be available to you. Imagine that you share a bank account with your abuser, they may move the money so that you can’t leave. They might have put their name on the house the car and other items you both own so that you cannot legally try to take those things.
  • So now you are at the point where you’ve left your abuser, you’ve used up your immediate housing resources (e.g., a hotel for a couple nights, staying with a family member for a week or two, searching for a new place) and you need a place to go. Now you start reaching out to domestic violence shelters because there is no other option for safe housing.

When you call the DV agency it is still not guaranteed that you will get housing.

  • They ask you if you have a son over the age of 13. You do and they tell you unfortunately your son will not be able to stay with you in the shelter.
  • Or you call and find out that their shelter is at capacity.

Let’s say you are able to find a domestic violence shelter that will be able to house you and your children. Now you are able to utilize the services available in the shelter.

  • However, you now have a curfew, they have limited food options, you cannot tell anyone the location of your residence, you have strict visitor rules and requirements, and you have to check in with someone regularly.
  • This is a huge adjustment, it may even be slightly traumatizing to be in another controlling environment. What are your options now?
  • Pretty much the streets, a homeless shelter with less rules but no guaranteed protection or services for survivors, or stay in the DV shelter where you will at least be safe until you no longer need their services.

As a former domestic violence shelter volunteer and hotline counselor, I have witnessed people deal with every scenario in the previously presented hypothetical situation. One of the most unfortunate things I have come to realize is that in the midst of escaping an abuser, someone who is limited financially has very few good options available to them. It is also unfortunate that some of the policies put in place to protect survivors can end up making it more difficult for them to seek services.

There are several laws and regulations in place for domestic violence shelters. The regulations vary by state but many shelters across the country are tasked with the same obligations to ensure the safety of the residents. These regulations include keeping the shelter location secret, not allowing males in many of the shelters (even if it is an older son of the woman escaping abuse), enforcing a curfew, limiting visitors, and they typically are instructed to keep close tabs on the residents.

So not only does the person have to deal with the severe psychological trauma stemming from the abuse they endured from a loved one, they also have to deal with losing their home, sometimes their job, friends, and family. On top of all of those things, the rules in the shelter might make them feel like prisoners. Sometimes even with the best intentions of helping to protect survivors, shelter policies may end up further traumatizing residents by restricting their power. That type of complex trauma experience can have extremely negative consequences on survivors .

 

How You Can Help

 

If you want to change policies:

First of all, get active in state and local elections. Know your member of congress and your senator. Find out what their plan is to address domestic violence and homelessness, if they have a plan at all. Then gather constituents and make your case for policy development and reform for survivors of domestic violence. Do the same for national level policies.

If you are a provider who works with survivors of IPV:

Know the signs of abuse. Support your client whether they want to leave their abuser or not. Be prepared to provide resources information such as shelters, crime victims fund, trauma counseling, how to get restraining orders, and how to help their children cope. Allow the survivor to make decisions for their own lives. Most of all advocate for the empowerment of survivors. Make sure to be mindful of power dynamics when working with survivors.

If you have never thought about this issue:

Spread the word about this issue. Help dispel the common myths. Learn more about the reality of homeless survivors of abuse. If there is someone you know who is dealing with abuse in their home, be there to support them in any way you can. Even if it is just being an empathetic listener.

 

 

Resources:

 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

http://www.ndvh.org/

 

National Coalition for the Homeless

1-202-737-6444

http://www.nationalhomeless.org/

 

National Dating Abuse Helpline

1-866-331-9474

http://www.loveisrespect.org/

 

Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center

International Toll-Free (24/7)

1-866-USWOMEN (879-6636)

http://www.866uswomen.org/

 

National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp

1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

http://www.childhelp.org/

 

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

1-800-537-2238

http://www.nrcdv.org/ and http://www.vawnet.org/

 

National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health

1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011

www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org

 

 

Biography:

Stephanie Hargrove is a second year clinical psychology doctoral student at George Mason University. She is an alumna of Howard University and has lived in the DC area for nearly 6 years. Stephanie has a passion for advocacy and community service. She has served as an advocate in domestic violence shelters, on the community service committee of the Greater Washington Urban League’s young professional chapter, and as a rape crisis hotline counselor. Stephanie’s research interests are focused on social justice, women’s empowerment, and client centered practices for women who have experienced gender based violence such as intimate partner violence, rape, and human trafficking. Her clinical interests are trauma and personality disorders. Stephanie hopes to utilize her research to inform her clinical work, develop interventions, and influence policy.

 


Filed under: Violence, Women and Girls Tagged: domestic abuse, domestic violence, homeles, homeless families, homeless shelters, homelessness, intimate partner violence

How Can We Help Survivors of Domestic Violence Struggling with Homelessness?

Worried Child

By Stephanie Hargrove (Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student, George Mason University)

It is an unfortunate reality that many women and children who are able to escape their abuser end up homeless. A recent survey found that 17 percent of cities cited domestic violence as the primary cause of family homelessness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2014). This prevalent issue is something that many people do not realize is happening. Here are some of the myths about domestic violence and homelessness that need to be dispelled.

 

Myth Busters:

Only women can experience domestic violence

  • In fact, domestic violence can happen to anyone, men, women and children. The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person”. Domestic violence is abuse that occurs in the home by a family member or intimate partner. Therefore, even children who are abused by their parents experience domestic violence.
  • However, it is true that DV survivors are primarily women. More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

 

People who are experiencing DV can leave anytime they want

People end up homeless or in poverty because of their own bad decisions

People who are affluent now, will never end up homeless

  • There are many survivors of DV who are affluent. There are also several cases of women who lost their homes and finances because their abuser took it all and they did what was necessary to survive.

 

So what does homelessness due to domestic violence look like in real life?

Imagine you have endured days, months, or even years of abuse at the hands of someone you love. One day you decide that it is no longer safe to remain in the same home as this person. Now what?

  • If you are married to this person, you made a commitment to love and honor this person for the rest of your life.
  • If you have children with this person you do not want the children to have to grow up without their other parent in their life.
  • If you are dating, you love and care about this person, you made plans with them and planned your future together.
  • If it is your parent, you are supposed to obey them, you rely on them for love, advice, support, and protection.

Imagine that despite the deep investment you have in this person, you decide that you must leave. Now what?

  • You have to figure out where you would go and how you would end the relationship – all the while knowing that this person has threatened you and your family if you were to leave.

Let’s say you manage to escape your abuser’s home unharmed. Now where do you go?

  • Your abuser made sure to isolate you from the rest of your family so they are not too sympathetic to your situation.
  • Even if you do manage to find a family member to stay with, it will most likely be temporary and it is not always safe to stay in places where your abuser knows they could find you.
  • So what’s another option? Maybe you could stay in a hotel. Well, that could work but that option will get pricey quickly. It’s not a long term solution.
  • How about find a new place to live? That is a long term solution but that takes money and time. If you have to work during the day it can be very difficult to search for a new home.
  • If you are living in poverty, the costly options are not options at all.
  • If you are middle class or affluent, all of your money may not be available to you. Imagine that you share a bank account with your abuser, they may move the money so that you can’t leave. They might have put their name on the house the car and other items you both own so that you cannot legally try to take those things.
  • So now you are at the point where you’ve left your abuser, you’ve used up your immediate housing resources (e.g., a hotel for a couple nights, staying with a family member for a week or two, searching for a new place) and you need a place to go. Now you start reaching out to domestic violence shelters because there is no other option for safe housing.

When you call the DV agency it is still not guaranteed that you will get housing.

  • They ask you if you have a son over the age of 13. You do and they tell you unfortunately your son will not be able to stay with you in the shelter.
  • Or you call and find out that their shelter is at capacity.

Let’s say you are able to find a domestic violence shelter that will be able to house you and your children. Now you are able to utilize the services available in the shelter.

  • However, you now have a curfew, they have limited food options, you cannot tell anyone the location of your residence, you have strict visitor rules and requirements, and you have to check in with someone regularly.
  • This is a huge adjustment, it may even be slightly traumatizing to be in another controlling environment. What are your options now?
  • Pretty much the streets, a homeless shelter with less rules but no guaranteed protection or services for survivors, or stay in the DV shelter where you will at least be safe until you no longer need their services.

As a former domestic violence shelter volunteer and hotline counselor, I have witnessed people deal with every scenario in the previously presented hypothetical situation. One of the most unfortunate things I have come to realize is that in the midst of escaping an abuser, someone who is limited financially has very few good options available to them. It is also unfortunate that some of the policies put in place to protect survivors can end up making it more difficult for them to seek services.

There are several laws and regulations in place for domestic violence shelters. The regulations vary by state but many shelters across the country are tasked with the same obligations to ensure the safety of the residents. These regulations include keeping the shelter location secret, not allowing males in many of the shelters (even if it is an older son of the woman escaping abuse), enforcing a curfew, limiting visitors, and they typically are instructed to keep close tabs on the residents.

So not only does the person have to deal with the severe psychological trauma stemming from the abuse they endured from a loved one, they also have to deal with losing their home, sometimes their job, friends, and family. On top of all of those things, the rules in the shelter might make them feel like prisoners. Sometimes even with the best intentions of helping to protect survivors, shelter policies may end up further traumatizing residents by restricting their power. That type of complex trauma experience can have extremely negative consequences on survivors .

 

How You Can Help

 

If you want to change policies:

First of all, get active in state and local elections. Know your member of congress and your senator. Find out what their plan is to address domestic violence and homelessness, if they have a plan at all. Then gather constituents and make your case for policy development and reform for survivors of domestic violence. Do the same for national level policies.

If you are a provider who works with survivors of IPV:

Know the signs of abuse. Support your client whether they want to leave their abuser or not. Be prepared to provide resources information such as shelters, crime victims fund, trauma counseling, how to get restraining orders, and how to help their children cope. Allow the survivor to make decisions for their own lives. Most of all advocate for the empowerment of survivors. Make sure to be mindful of power dynamics when working with survivors.

If you have never thought about this issue:

Spread the word about this issue. Help dispel the common myths. Learn more about the reality of homeless survivors of abuse. If there is someone you know who is dealing with abuse in their home, be there to support them in any way you can. Even if it is just being an empathetic listener.

 

 

Resources:

 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

http://www.ndvh.org/

 

National Coalition for the Homeless

1-202-737-6444

http://www.nationalhomeless.org/

 

National Dating Abuse Helpline

1-866-331-9474

http://www.loveisrespect.org/

 

Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center

International Toll-Free (24/7)

1-866-USWOMEN (879-6636)

http://www.866uswomen.org/

 

National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp

1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

http://www.childhelp.org/

 

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

1-800-537-2238

http://www.nrcdv.org/ and http://www.vawnet.org/

 

National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health

1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011

www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org

 

 

Biography:

Stephanie Hargrove is a second year clinical psychology doctoral student at George Mason University. She is an alumna of Howard University and has lived in the DC area for nearly 6 years. Stephanie has a passion for advocacy and community service. She has served as an advocate in domestic violence shelters, on the community service committee of the Greater Washington Urban League’s young professional chapter, and as a rape crisis hotline counselor. Stephanie’s research interests are focused on social justice, women’s empowerment, and client centered practices for women who have experienced gender based violence such as intimate partner violence, rape, and human trafficking. Her clinical interests are trauma and personality disorders. Stephanie hopes to utilize her research to inform her clinical work, develop interventions, and influence policy.

 


Filed under: Violence, Women and Girls Tagged: domestic abuse, domestic violence, homeles, homeless families, homeless shelters, homelessness, intimate partner violence

New CDC Survey Data Confirm the Severe Health Risks LGB Youth Face

blog-YRBS-LGB-youth

By Clinton Anderson, PhD (Director, APA Office on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns) & Lacey Rosenbaum, MEd (Director, APA Safe and Supportive Schools Project)

 

On August 11, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of the first national study of sexual minority high school students: “Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12 – United States and Selected Sites, 2015.”

This is the first nationally representative data on a wide range of risks among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students, and it was made possible by CDC adding questions to the 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which is conducted biannually among students in grades 9-12 in high schools.

 

What does this new research tell us?

 

LGB students experience much higher levels of physical and sexual violence and bullying compared to their heterosexual peers:

  • LGB high school students are more likely to report being forced to have sex (18% vs. 5%),
  • to experience sexual dating violence (23% vs. 9%),
  • to experience physical dating violence (18% vs. 8%),
  • and to be bullied at school or online (at school: 34% vs. 19%; online: 28% vs. 14%).

LGB students are at increased risk for suicide:

  • More than 40% of LGB students reported seriously considering and roughly 30% reported attempting suicide in the last year.

60% of LGB youth reported having been so sad or hopeless they stopped doing some usual activities.

More than 10% reported having missed school because of safety concerns.

LGB students were up to 5 times more likely than other students to report using several illegal drugs.

These results confirm the need for school-based interventions that APA called for in its Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity in Children and Adolescents in Schools.

 

What about transgender students? 

 

The 2015 results include no findings on transgender students. To date, federal officials have not been able to devise scientifically sound gender identity questions for inclusion in the YRBS. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes this research challenge and seeks to address it in its federal sexual orientation and gender identity data collection plans. APA in its Resolution supports the validation of gender identity measures to better understand the experiences of transgender and gender diverse students and calls for schools to create supportive environments for these students.

 

What does other research on LGB youth say?

 

Other research points to a number of shared risk factors for violence, which may affect LGB youth:

  • Social isolation and lack of social support;
  • Poor parent-child relationships (lack of parental caring and support);
  • History of violent victimization (violence makes one vulnerable to more violence);
  • Perceived by others as not masculine or feminine enough.

 

So, what works to protect LGB youth?

 

There is no simple solution to these dangerous intersections of risks, but research has identified shared protective factors that can help young people at the individual, family, and community levels.

  • Individual-level protective factors include helping young people develop problem-solving and coping skills and encouraging bystander interventions.
  • Family-level protective factors include family support and connectedness, connection to other caring adults, connection to and commitment to school and peers.
  • Community-level protective factors include community support and connectedness and access to mental health and substance abuse services.

All of us, including parents, schools and communities, can and must take action to ensure gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth survive and thrive. APA’s Respect Workshop, developed with CDC support, provides school counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to make schools safe and supportive for LGB students.

 

What can we all do?

 

Professionals and parents can:

  • Work with schools to ensure comprehensive, community-wide support systems that reduce risk and promote protective factors for LGB youth.

Schools can:

  • Work to support and encourage parents to foster resiliency in their children by providing strong family support and teaching all children nonviolent problem solving skills.
  • Build environments that provide safety and connectedness for all students, including gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth.

Communities can:

  • Adopt policies and practices to reduce discrimination and forms of victimization that contribute to vulnerability and thereby reduce stressors for LGB youth.

 

Connectedness is key

 

At the end of the day, making sure that LGB youth feel connected – to parents, to peers, to teachers, and to schools and other community organizations – is key to protecting their health. Students are more likely to thrive in their schools and communities if they know they matter – if they know the adults, teachers, and friends in their lives care about their safety and success.

For more info, check out APA’s Safe and Supportive Schools Project.

Image source: Flickr user ankxt via Creative Commons


Filed under: Children and Youth, LGBT Issues Tagged: bullying, CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey, health disparities, health risks, LGB youth, online bullying, safe schools, school bullying, school connectedness, school safety, sexual assault, sexual minorities, sexual minority youth, sexual violence, suicide, violence, YRBS

Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans

blog-racial-trauma

By Erlanger A. Turner, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Houston-Downtown) & Jasmine Richardson

There have been many changes within the criminal justice system as a means to deter crime and to keep citizens safe. However, research demonstrates that often times men of color are treated harshly which leads to negative perceptions of police officers. The recent shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas have exposed many individuals and their families to incidents of police brutality that reminds us that as a society work needs to be done to improve police and community relations.

In light of these recent events, many people have witnessed these traumatic incidents through social media or participation in marches in their cities. The violence witnessed towards people of color from police continues to damage perceptions of law enforcement and further stereotype people of color negatively. In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health (Geller, Fagan, Tyler, & Link, 2014), the authors reported that 85% of the participants reported being stopped at least once in their lifetime and 78% had no history of criminal activity. What is more concerning is that the study also found that those who reported more intrusive police contact experienced increased trauma and anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, those who reported fair treatment during encounters with law enforcement had fewer symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.

 

What is Racial Trauma?

In addition to the mental health symptoms of individuals who have encounters with law enforcement, those who witness these events directly or indirectly may also be impacted negatively. In an attempt to capture how racism and discrimination negatively impacts the physical and mental health of people of color, many scholars have coined the term “racial trauma” or race-based traumatic stress. Racial trauma may result from racial harassment, witnessing racial violence, or experiencing institutional racism (Bryant-Davis, & Ocampo, 2006; Comas-Díaz, 2016). The trauma may result in experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, feelings of humiliation, poor concentration, or irritability.

 

Effects of Racial Trauma on Communities of Color

Decades of research have noted the impact of discrimination and racism on the psychological health of communities of color (e.g., Bryant-Davis & Ocampo, 2006; Carter & Forsyth, 2009; Comas-Díaz, 2016). Although not everyone who experiences racism and discrimination will develop symptoms of race-based trauma, repeated exposure may lead to the following. According to a report on The Impact of Racial Trauma on African Americans, Dr. Walter Smith notes the following effects of racial trauma:

Increased vigilance and suspicion – Suspicion of social institutions (schools, agencies, government), avoiding eye contact, only trusting persons within our social and family relationship networks

Increased sensitivity to threat – Defensive postures, avoiding new situations, heightened sensitivity to being disrespected and shamed, and avoid taking risks

Increased psychological and physiological symptoms – Unresolved traumas increase chronic stress and decrease immune system functioning, shift brains to limbic system dominance, increase risks for depression and anxiety disorders, and disrupt child development and quality of emotional attachment in family and social relationships

Increased alcohol and drug usage – Drugs and alcohol are initially useful (real and perceived) in managing the pain and danger of unresolved traumas but become their own disease processes when dependency occurs

Increased aggression – Street gangs, domestic violence, defiant behavior, and appearing tough and impenetrable are ways of coping with danger by attempting to control our physical and social environment

Narrowing sense of time – Persons living in a chronic state of danger do not develop a sense of future; do not have long-term goals, and frequently view dying as an expected outcome

 

Coping with Racial Trauma

Racial trauma or race-based trauma often goes unnoticed. These hidden wounds that adults and youth of color experience are worn like invisible weights. Hardy (2013) provides the following eight steps to heal after experiencing racial injustices in our community.

  1. Affirmation and Acknowledgement: This involves professionals helping the individual to develop a sense of understanding acceptance of racial issues. This step is important because it opens the door for us to dialogue about issues related to race.
  2. Create Space for Race: Creating space allows an open dialogue with our communities about race. Hardy notes that we must take a proactive role to identify race as a significant variable and talk openly about experiences related to race.
  3. Racial Storytelling: Gives individuals an outlet to share personal experiences and think critically about events in their lives. This provides an opportunity to hear others voice how they have been treated differently due to their race and it helps expose hidden wounds through storytelling.
  4. Validation: Can be seen as a personalized tool used to counter devaluation. This provides confirmation of the individuals’ worth and their redeemable qualities.
  5. The Process of Naming: With the scarcity of research on the effects of racial trauma on mental health, there is of course no name as of yet making it a nameless condition. This in turn increases the doubt and uncertainty. By naming these experiences we give individuals a voice to speak on them and also recognize how they impact them. If we apply a mental health condition, individuals may experience symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  6. Externalize Devaluation: The aim for this step is to have people focus on increasing respect and recognizing that racial events do not lower their self-worth.
  7. Counteract Devaluation: This step uses a combination of psychological, emotional, and behavioral resources to build self-esteem and counter racial attacks. This helps prevent future kiss if dignity and sense of self.
  8. Rechanneling Rage: By rechanneling rage, individuals can learn to gain control of their emotions and not let emotions consume them. This is an important step because it empowers people to keep pushing forward after adversity. This may include taking steps to engage in activism or self-care strategies such as spending time with family.

 

Biographies:

Erlanger A. Turner, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Turner’s research focuses on access to child mental health services, health inequity, help-seeking attitudes and behaviors, and cultural competency in clinical practice. He teaches courses at UHD in clinical psychology, multicultural psychology, and child psychopathology. Dr. Turner is also a blogger for The Race to Good Health. Dr. Turner is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association of Black Psychologists. He has served in numerous leadership positions throughout APA and APA Divisions. He earned his B.S. in psychology from Louisiana State University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. Dr. Turner is currently Chair-Elect for the APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest and he was recently appointment to the Behavioral Health National Project Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health.

Jasmine Richardson, BS earned her psychology degree from the University of Houston- Downtown (UHD) and is a former research assistant at the UHD Race, Culture, and Mental Health Research Lab under the supervision of Dr. Turner.

Note: An earlier version of this blog was published on BlackDoctor.org

 

References:

Bryant-Davis, T., & Ocampo, C. (2006). A therapeutic approach to the treatment of racist-incident-based trauma. Journal of Emotional Abuse6(4), 1-22.

Carter, R. T., & Forsyth, J. M. (2009). A guide to the forensic assessment of race-based traumatic stress reactions. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online37(1), 28-40.

Comas-Díaz, L. (2016). Racial trauma recovery: A race-informed therapeutic approach to racial wounds. In Alvarez, A.N. (Ed); Liang, C. T. H. (Ed); Neville, H. A. (Ed), The cost of racism for people of color: Contextualizing experiences of discrimination. Cultural, racial, and ethnic psychology book series (pp. 249-272). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.

Geller, A., Fagan, J., Tyler, T., & Link, B. G. (2014). Aggressive policing and the mental health of young urban men. American Journal Of Public Health, 104(12), 2321-2327

Hardy, K. V. (2013). Healing the Hidden Wounds of Racial Trauma. Reclaiming Children And Youth, 22(1), 24-28.

Image source: Flickr user blogocram via Creative Commons


Filed under: Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice, Violence Tagged: coping, discrimination, mental health, policing, racial bias, racial discrimination, racial profiling, racial trauma, racism, stress, trauma