Of course, children “get over it” — they have no choice. Children are not resilient, children are malleable. In the process of “getting over it,” elements of their true emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and social potential are diminished — some percentage of capacity is lost, a piece of the child is lost forever.
– Bruce Perry et al (see full quote)
On the Friday before last, yet another frightening, disturbing, tragic shooting took place, this time in Santa Monica.
The L.A. Times article, Santa Monica shooter’s background steeped in trauma, violence, tells us that the shooter, John Zawahri, at the age of four, was already in noticeable suffering. His preschool teacher is quoted as saying, “It was obvious to me there was trauma in the home.” Court records confirm domestic violence and a restraining order against his father acquired by his mother.
Why did Zawahiri kill his father, brother and others that were complete strangers? We may never know for sure, yet I found it chilling to read that symptoms of trauma were already obvious two decades before the shootings occurred.
A few years back, while volunteering at a local domestic violence shelter, I had the opportunity to talk about trauma with a group of women that had very recently left violent relationships.
For the most part,
- none of them had ever heard of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,
- they didn’t know their symptoms were caused by trauma, and
- they had no idea that their young children, having witnessed violence, were likewise suffering from trauma.
They gave me a strong directive that night. They told me women in the community needed to know about the damaging effects of trauma.
From time to time I am reminded that as a psychotherapist, I live in a bubble. In Living Ubuntu I live and breathe trauma, PTSD and recovery and so do many people I know. Yet in mainstream society, in the everyday life of many, many people, they have no idea what trauma is, that it is trans-generational, or anything else about the many ways it can be destructive, especially to the youngest and most vulnerable. For those who have heard of PTSD, they usually associate it only with returning soldiers when in fact there are myriad causes that have nothing to do with being in a conflict zone.
We have a long ways to go in terms of adequately raising awareness and dramatically increasing access to treatment.
The tragic story of John Zawahri is only one example of what can happen if we don’t.
Founder & Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
[Ubuntu] n. Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings.