Recently, Freedom Ticket talked with Hennepin County Probation Officers Cheryl Tigue and P.J. Bensen about trauma and the new program that addresses it for residents at the women’s section of the Adult Corrections Facility (ACF).
What is trauma and how can it impact someone’s life?
Trauma occurs when a person’s response to an event involves intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Trauma can also be described as a reaction to an event that overwhelms a person physically and psychologically. Trauma can also be used to describe an event and also a reaction or response to an event.
The trauma process begins with an event that overwhelms a person’s physical and psychological systems which lead to a fight, flight, or freeze trauma response. This response sensitizes the nervous system and causes changes in the brain. Trauma can be a result of abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional), exposure to domestic violence, severe natural disasters, war, abandonment, witnessing violence at school and in neighborhoods, personal attack by another person or an animal, kidnapping, bullying, medical procedures, serious injuries or accidents. Stresses in one’s life and reminders of the trauma can lead to painful emotional states that result in one of three categories: retreat, where one isolates oneself, disconnects from one’s social circle and experiences depression and anxiety; engage in self-destructive actions such as substance abuse, eating disorders, self-harm and suicide; or engage in destructive actions such as aggression, violence and rage.
Trauma is quite widespread in our society today. Therefore, organizations that work with people need staff who understand trauma, can recognize and avoid trauma triggers, and know how to adjust behaviors and environments to assist trauma survivors in managing their symptoms and responses.
How is the facility helping residents who have experienced trauma in their lives?
At the women’s section, staff help residents understand what trauma is and how it affects their lives. Staff explain the impact of trauma and the relationships between violence, abuse and their trauma response. Gender-responsive trauma courses as
well as individual support are offered.
Any final suggestions for people who want to learn more about trauma?
We have included a few of the many community resources available to help with trauma:
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
National Women’s Health Information Center
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Veterans Crisis Line