With the recent announcement of the verdict in the trial of the killing of George Floyd – and what seems like a never-ending stream of news about violence against people of color – it can be difficult to find the balance between staying informed and being retraumatized by the images you see on TV and social media.
Secondary trauma, or the exposure to the traumatic events of others, is often elevated by our ability to have constant access to breaking news and observe violent situations through our digital devices. Retraumatization through media can have an exponential, lasting effect on Black and brown Americans, as they see themselves reflected in local and national news stories.
While the jury’s conviction of Derek Chauvin may have provided momentary feelings of relief and hope, it’s possible these feelings will be short-lived as similar events unfold, like the shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, and coverage of the trial continues. This rapid shift from joy to grief could easily create unstable mental conditions, especially for Black and brown Americans, who have been disproportionately exposed to trauma.
YWCA Dayton provides comprehensive critical care through a Trauma-Informed Care model, an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves looking at a person’s past and present to better understand, recognize, and respond to the effects of trauma. Trauma-informed care emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety and helps those we serve rebuild a sense of control and empowerment in their lives.
With this approach in mind, our associate clinical director, Manicka Thomas, offered six helpful reminders for how Black communities, and others, can practice self-care during times of intense trauma and grief.
- Remember that healing is both communal and individual. We need ways to stay connected with each other and also need time to process our emotions in safe private spaces.
- There is no guilt in allowing yourself to experience joy.
- Avoid pushing through and allow time for grief and mourning. It often feels like after one victory comes another defeat.
- There is no “right way” to grieve. Grief is a personal, imperfect process.
- Listen to your body. Know that you can breathe. We must breathe.
- Do not carry the weight of racial trauma as if it is yours to bear.
As Audre Lorde once said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Practicing self-care is an act of compassion toward healing ourselves and the world around us. If you’re finding it difficult to care for your physical, emotional, and mental health needs right now, know that you’re not alone.
In need of support? Help is just a click away.
Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services offers ways to help you cope with grief after a traumatic event or season of life. Visit www.daytonheals.org for a comprehensive list of resources for your individual situation.
For immediate help, YWCA Dayton’s crisis support specialists are always on call and ready to listen to those who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, trauma. 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 937-222-SAFE (7233).