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After watching Oprah Winfrey’s report on 60 Minutes about Treating Childhood Trauma, I began seeking out more learning opportunities on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and a Trauma Informed Care Approach. I wanted to share with you what I have learned.

Trauma is defined as a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident or an experience that produces psychological injury or pain. Trauma occurs when an individual, family, or community experiences an event or series of events that are harmful, and it affects functioning and well-being. Traumatic events can include abuse, neglect, bullying, terrorism, and war. Trauma does not discriminate. An important point is that what may be traumatic for one person may not affect another person in the same way. For example, being in a car accident may become a traumatic event for one person, and another person may not appear to be affected by it at all.

As a friend, family, or concerned community member, you can help someone who has experienced a trauma by:

  • Asking  “What happened” and “How can how I help?”
  • Allowing the person to express their emotions. Some emotions may be anger, numbness and fear.  There is no one way that individuals express themselves after experiencing a trauma.
  • Listening to someone’s story and showing empathy and concern.
  • Offering practical support.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that happen to children and adolescents, and they are categorized in this infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

infographicResearch has shown that infants, children, and adolescents with ACEs are more likely to experience mental health, physical health, and behavioral health problems.

THERE IS HOPE!  Even if you, a loved one or your community has experienced a traumatic event, it does not mean that all is lost. There are many protective factors that can help to overcome the experience of trauma and build resilience at individual, relational, and community levels. Protective factors will always promote growth, independence, and healing for an individual.

Some protective factors are:

  • Caring adults outside family who can serve as role models or mentors
  • Communities that support parents and take responsibility for preventing abuse
  • Supportive family environment
  • Adequate housing
  • Access to health care and social services

As you live each day, remember that each of us has the chance to make a difference to another person. Trauma can be experienced by anyone. When we begin to recognize the humanity of each person, to not believe that we already know their story based simply on looks or rumor, and to come together as a community of broken people, each person and each community will become stronger.

 

WRITTEN BY: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

REVIEWED BY: Jenny Lobb,  Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

RESOURCES:

Brown, Asa Don. Protective and Risk Factors Associated With Trauma: The process of recovery and resiliency. Psychology Today, 2017.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/towards-recovery/201704/protective-and-risk-factors-associated-trauma

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences? https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/collections/aces.html

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Trauma. https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Types of Trauma and Violence. https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence/types

Victoria State Government Health and Human Services. Trauma – helping family or friends. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/trauma-helping-family-or-friends

Winfrey, Oprah. 60 Minutes News Program. March 11, 2018. Treating Childhood Trauma. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oprah-winfrey-treating-childhood-trauma/

Youth.gov. Risk & Protective Factors. https://youth.gov/youth-topics/youth-mental-health/risk-and-protective-factors-youth 

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Last week, we wrapped up another successful county fair.  I am always so impressed with the way that so many people work together to make the county fair a success.  From crowning the royalty to recycling the recyclables, from  show choir  to  demolition derby, from  open class competitions to livestock shows from  food tents to 4-H projects,  volunteers and fair staff come together to insure that it all gets done.Group of youth at fairgrounds smiling

But what I really love most of all is the community that I witness as I walk through the buildings, barns, and on the midway.  It’s a time when people are engaging with others in face to face conversation, catching up with friends over some delicious food, and children are laughing and playing together.  It is truly a place where for a week we celebrate one another, jump in and assist as needed, and seem to go back in time to another era.

Building community is a vital part of our development.  A community can be defined as “emerged as a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings.” Where is your community? Where do you find others who support you, help you, laugh with you, cry with you?

Girls standing in a line at a county fair with girls on their shoulders

GirlsHealth.gov offers some suggestions to become a better member of your community.

  • Treat others well.
  • Show other people respect even if you have beliefs that are different
  • Get to know people before making up your mind about them
  • Stand up for your beliefs
  • Be someone people can rely on to do a good job
  • Volunteer at places like a nursing home, homeless shelter, food pantry, or humane society
  • Help a neighbor or someone else who could use a hand

Each night as you go to sleep, can you look back on your day and be happy with your actions towards yourself and others? Being a part of a community, whether small or large, is a sign that you are never alone. I hope you have found a community that brings a smile to your face and fills your heart with laughter like I have.Male and Female youth smiling holding sticks

Written by: Jami Dellifield, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator,Wood County

References:

MacQueen KM, McLellan E, Metzger DS, et al. What Is Community? An Evidence-Based Definition for Participatory Public Health. American Journal of Public Health. 2001;91(12):1929-1938. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446907/  

Girlshealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.girlshealth.gov/relationships/community/

Photo Credits:

Kim Wooley Camper, Cheap $hots Photography, https://www.facebook.com/Cheap-hots-Photography-Kim-Woolley-Camper-138367259532875/ 

Kolt Buchenroth, https://www.facebook.com/hardincountyfair/

 

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