When an accident happens -- fall, bicycle or car crash, assault -- our bodies have natural physiological responses to those events. These responses help our brains and bodies release chemicals to help our bodies cope during and after the event.
In most accidents or assaults, we become immobilized in some way; we're physically unable to move, we have determined we shouldn't, or both. Immediately after an accident, our bodies might shake, tremble, cry, or breathe rapidly to release energy that was unable to be released during the event because of our immobilization. Allowing our bodies to engage in these physiological responses can be vital to the successful resolution of these events.
Oftentimes, though, we don't allow ourselves or others to have these natural responses. We're embarrassed to cry so we hold back our tears. We think it's inappropriate to scream so we muffle our voices. We're frightened of the sensation of our body's uncontrolled trembling so we try to remain still. By not allowing the release of pent-up, stressful energy, we walk around with unresolved stress reactions, which is unhealthy and problematic -- in both the short- and long-term.
You see, that energy remains until we burn it off, and intense or chronic stress is damaging to our bodies. The longer it takes for us to release that energy, the more likely we will have physical and/or emotional problems (heart disease, autoimmune disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, emotional instability, behavioral outbursts).
So, the next time you or someone you're with experiences an accident or assault, allow your body to engage in the natural release of energy afterward. You even can help express that energy by purposefully engaging in movement activities such as gentle rocking or shaking, bouncing, walking, arm circles, or lunges.
If you experienced an accident or assault and still feel stuck in those experiences, consider working with someone who specializes in helping people work through those past negative events. EMDR, yoga, hypnosis, and other body-focused (somatosensory) treatments are known to decrease or completely eliminate negative symptoms that result from accidents or assaults. Just be sure the person you choose to work with has specific training in working with survivors of accidents or assaults.
Half of U.S. children have divorced parents. Many of those children go back and forth from one parent’s house to the other. Maybe they are 1 week on, 1 week off. Maybe they are 1 day a week and every other weekend. Maybe they spend most days at one parent’s house and then school breaks at the other house. Whatever the case, these kids get used to packing a bag and going to another house.
How can you make that better for them?
Forgo the suitcase
Forgo using the terms “Mom’s house” or “Dad’s house."
Examples of exclusive and inclusive statements
A fractured home almost always is irreparable. While fractured homes sometimes are safer and healthier for all involved, oftentimes they are disruptive for a child’s development, so anything you can do to foster stability and security in your child’s life after divorce is best.
Belonging, connection, stability, and security are key factors in healthy child development. While being civil with an ex-partner may be incredibly difficult, that civility is important for your child after divorce.
Something you never want your child to experience is sexual abuse. But what if your child has? Will she or he be damaged for life?
Child sexual abuse certainly can be a damaging experience for a child. Not just the act of the abuse is damaging, but also any negative fall-out from the abuse (separation from the abuser who often is a loved one, divorce, jail time, court proceedings, telling the story over and over to different service providers, emotional turmoil of others, removal from home, etc.), but that damage doesn’t have to last a lifetime.
First, many children are not clinically traumatized by the abuse. If the abuse was not threatening, violent, or painful, a child might not have a fear reaction from it. Many times, education about body safety is all a child needs to move forward.
Even if a child is bothered or traumatized by the abuse, appropriate intervention can heal and help children move forward. There are multiple evidence-based therapies for children who have been abused. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), for example, has an 80% success rate, meaning 80% of children who receive TF-CBT from start to finish will see their clinical symptoms significantly diminish or completely disappear.
Sexual abuse is one experience of many in a child’s life, and it does not have to define the child. There are good, effective treatments that can be applied to heal the child so she can move forward and have a stable, successful, and satisfying life.