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When Old Wounds Are Reopened, Survivors Are Retraumatized

The world is becoming increasingly trauma sensitive, but not necessarily in the way which actually provides sensitivity to trauma survivors. While the media is still learning how to discuss traumas appropriately, the media has taken great strides in talking about trauma more openly. Meaning, the media is getting better at no longer shaming traumatic events or survivors of those traumatic events. Seeing a similar story of trauma in the media can be either healing or harmful. Either way, when old wounds are reopened due to storytelling in the media, trauma survivors can experience retraumatization.

Reliving the events and having them spoken about on a public level is only one part of the retraumatizing process. Grief is an intricate part of the trauma recovery journey. Reliving trauma can mean having to grieve what trauma took from them all over again. Survivors have to now grieve the loss of time and the many years of their lives not being heard.

Retraumatization can go a few ways. On the one hand, people who have done “the work” to resolve and heal their trauma can experience emotional discomfort, be triggered, or even have to endure old symptoms of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the many reactions to severe, ongoing trauma is compartmentalization of the mind. Coping with trauma is overwhelming, which is why the brain and the body suffer. Quite literally, the impact of trauma is too much even for the sympathetic nervous system to bare. Symptoms of trauma and/or PTSD live in both the brain and the body. Out of an act of protection and survival, both the brain and the body may shut the trauma down and make the memories inaccessible.

Though the individual is still affected, they cannot access the memories in order to heal them. Seeing similar details of their abuse in the media might trigger a memory “flood”, suddenly opening the door to painful repressed memories. Problematically, because the memories have been suppressed for so long and they have never seemed clinical support in resolving them, the body and the mind are ill-equipped to cope. PTSD can seem like a sudden onset, despite potentially decades of time between the original trauma and the retraumatization. Symptoms which have existed can worsen. Symptoms which have never presented themselves are suddenly alive.

You can walk through your trauma. The Guest House Ocala offers residential treatment programming for trauma, addictions, and related mental health issues. Call us today for information on our customized programs and availability: 1-855-483-7800