In the Trauma awareness conversation in June, the most challenging social media conversations were:
The discovery of Indigenous children – students of Canada’s residential Catholic schools, mostly catholic schools
- What kind of trauma has the indigenous community in Canada endured due to the loss of so many of their children?
- How did the indigenous communities mourn their lost children, community and culture?
- Has there been reparation activities and conversations directed at healing the indigenous communities?
In reaction and retaliation for the lost children, churches are burning. This raised a lot of questions, opinions and reactions regarding how people should react to past traumatizing events. How should the indigenous community react to the discovery that the children they have mourned for decades were murdered? Buried in mass, unmarked graves? Is there a manual for how to react to horror?
2. Kenyans discussing parental abuse and the consequences childhood abuse has on child-adult relationship later in life
This conversation was triggered by one of our own sharing an event in their child-parent relationship. Their experience, reaction and the effects, in the context of the parent-child relationship.
It was shocking to hear people defending their own parents to discredit Silas’ experiences. Some described scenarios that sounded very much like traumatic abuse. But they ended it with “we turned out well.” Some argued that “harsh punishment” is what has shaped them as the hardworking disciplined adults they have become. And that their siblings who have turned into addicts or maladjusted adults were weak for not surviving their parent’s “well-meant discipline.” Others argued that we should be defining abuse, punishment and discipline more clearly. Clear definitions would apparently ensure that adult-children aren’t falsely accusing their parents for abuse when all the parents did was discipline their children. Additionally, parents shouldn’t be blamed for punishing children who need and deserve punishment.
The expectation that each child experiences their parent’s “disciplinary actions” in the exact same way as their siblings. Ignoring the fact that punishment for some siblings is more frequent and more severe, especially if they are “different” – difficult, stubborn, manner-less, noisy etc
Is it Ignorance or is it a lack of Compassion and Empathy?
It made me keenly aware that people are oblivious to the definition of trauma and to the 3Es that define the 3 aspects of Trauma:
- Event – What happened?
- Experience – How did you feel and react to what happened?
- Effect – How did that Event and how you Experienced it change how you feel about people, the world and yourself?
This is not the first time this heated discussion has taken place, and is definitely not the last.
I left June exhausted with the questions:
- Is it better to have strong siblings that can withstand abuse without breaking, than to have parents who know how to discipline/educate their children without abusing them?
- Are so many people lying when they say “you can speak to me, I am here for you” – especially regarding childhood trauma?
- How should the adults who experienced abuse as children react to parents who continue to behave in abusive ways, even in adulthood?
- Is there a manual for WHEN and WHERE people should react to life-changing abuse?