We were pleased on World Mental Health Day to see the momentum gathering for a different conversation around mental health. There’s been a growing number of people talking about trauma informed support, as opposed to medical model based support. The latter labels people, puts a diagnosis on them and asks ‘what’s wrong with you?’
In cases of sexual trauma a survivor can be invited to feel that they are the problem, and are powerless, disordered and broken, further exacerbating feelings of shame and blame they might feel. They can think that their only answer is medication and to understand ‘what’s wrong with them’ by using a medical label.
A trauma informed approach sees people’s struggles as understandable responses to the trauma and/or adversity they’ve faced, as ways to cope with the overwhelming, distressing nature of trauma.
In cases of sexual trauma the question considered would be ‘what’s happened?’ A survivor would be invited to make their own connections between then and now, to value their resilience in coping with abuse and to see their feelings and behaviors as natural and understandable responses to an unnatural situation. This empowering and compassionate approach would build on the resourcefulness of survivors and give them the power to understand and change, dismantling feelings of powerlessness, shame and blame.
At RSVP we are part of the movement to create a more trauma informed world. We deliver training which encourages professionals to respond to survivors of sexual abuse with belief, compassion, kindness and warmth. We provide frameworks so that professionals see survivors struggles and despair, not through the lens of stigma, shame or labels, but through the lens of humanity, as natural reactions to extreme distress. Our training uses the voices and experiences of survivors at the centre of what we do, as they are the experts of their experiences. If more people avoided giving labels and instead took the time to listen, hear and understand the stories of survivors we’d give hope and provide the compassionate support for them to thrive.
If you’d like to know more about our trauma informed training, please contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0121 643 0301