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Domestic violence coalition holds program

Staff writer

Rita Mangum speaks at the yearly Emery County Domestic Violence Coalition luncheon.

Rita Mangum, a licensed clinical social worker associated with the YWCA, made a presentation to those attending the Emery County Domestic Violence Coalition luncheon held at the Emery County Courthouse. Her topic was trauma and how it affects the individual and the community. She said many different events can be associated with trauma and the lasting effects it could have.

"Trauma, in casual conversation, is the word used to describe reactions to anything from a stressful day to a brutal murder. Indeed, both stress and trauma do affect individuals and groups, physically, emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally and spiritually. But traumatic events differ from ordinary stress in intensity and duration," Mangum said.

"Trauma is an experience that produces psychological injury or pain. Traumatic events and experiences impact individuals, groups, and communities. Responses to trauma may include psychological, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, spiritual and societal effects. Most traumas are resolved through the natural healing processes, but trauma which does not heal can lead to outcomes which cause further harm, either to the self or others," said Mangum.

Mangum listed potentially traumatic events as abuse, assault, accidents, personal physical violence, military incidences, law enforcement incidences, homelessness, natural disaster, human caused disasters, mass violence, neglect, torture, or witnessing a death or injury. She said this is not an all inclusive list because sickness and surgery can affect some people very badly, and most things affect different people in different ways.

A traumatic event may be any event that challenges a person or group's sense that life is meaningful and orderly. A traumatic event may also be anything that overwhelms an individual or group's ability to cope or respond to the threat.

There are two types of trauma responses people can manifest. The first, post traumatic stress disorder, is the impact of trauma seen as predictable and related to a person's ability to function. This type can be associated with chronic hyper arousal and threat perception. It can alter neurochemistry and fear pathways in the brain, and the recollections from the event or events is intrusive in the person's life. This type can be overcome with time and treatment.

Type two is the trauma informed type. It can have a continuing impact over a person's life, and begins with a complex pattern of actions and reactions. A history of abuse may explain this type of trauma.

The recommendations for people suffering from trauma are to get professional services and treatment from competent agencies with trauma experience and guidance. Service providers must be vigilant not to retraumatize victims of trauma. They need an integrated knowledge of substance abuse and mental illness throughout their programs. The program must also involve and incorporate feedback from the individual, and focus on empowerment and emphasize strengths of the person involved.

The effects of violence and trauma on children are pervasive, devastating and long lasting. Because of the rapid development of children's brains, any traumatic event can have tremendous effects on their development, not only mentally, but physically.

When trauma happens early in the life of a child, the brain development is not adequate to regulate their experience and calm themselves down. Children who experience four or more traumatic events are 12 times more likely to have increased risk of health problems, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and suicide attempts.

"There are six things to look for when determining the effects of trauma. Feelings, how is the person's self worth and do they get very upset when little things happen; judgment, do they think things through before acting and are they aware of the consequences of their actions; beliefs, are they isolating themselves and do they trust anyone; frame of reference, do they view themselves as a fighter; and body and brain, do they have unexplained medical symptoms or do they suffer chronic symptoms," concluded Mangum. "The best way to help a friend with this problem is to empathize with them. People like to have their feelings validated. Be there for them and listen to them."

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