Trauma Tips Tidbit – What Is Vicarious Trauma?
Have you ever felt exhausted after spending time with someone who is going through trauma? You may be taking on their pain and hurt. Yes, it is possible for us to suffer from indirect trauma when we are exposed to a second-hand story.
Vicarious trauma is the emotional residue of exposure; unfortunately, professionals aren’t the only ones who experience this. We and our children can suffer from it as well. It’s tricky. We may not even be aware of what the child saw or heard, that they are struggling with.
Like a virus, the trauma a child endures can also be passed on to other family members.
Let me explain. For example, If a child has gone through a trauma, like being in a car accident and losing a limb, the other family members may struggle with the residue of that trauma as well. Another good example, might be when we lose a grandparent. As a child watching their parent mourning the death of their grandma or grandpa, the child may not understand what has happened, however they feel all the emotion their parent is feeling and will also struggle with the grief.
Sometimes if we watch graphic news reports, gruesome or frightening television shows or even listening to a detailed traumatic story from another person, we can be indirectly affected by the content or visuals of someone else’s suffering. Some of us, our children included, may be carrying trauma from the pandemic that has brought a lot of fear into our lives and the world around us.
We will talk more in another episode on what to look for relating to the pandemic and signs, but let’s get curious and go deeper into what some common negative reactions to what vicarious trauma might look like in both ourselves and our children.
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Welcome back, a direct trauma refers to a traumatic event that occurs directly to us. For example, a paramedic or officer who is called to a bad car accident may have direct trauma as a result of what they see when they arrive on the scene and what they have to do to take care of everyone. The driver and people at the scene may also have a direct traumatic experience.
However, vicarious trauma is when others who hear details of the crash after the fact, or see it on the news may struggle with what they saw or hear and have indirect traumatic exposure as a result....