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Trauma Rehab Centers

Family Tragedy and Trauma

Family Tragedy and TraumaIn a small town in upstate New York, a 11-year-old boy is playing with his visiting 10-year-old cousin. The 11-year-old child finds his father’s pistol, and while they are examining it, he accidentally shoots and kills his cousin. Imagine, if you can, the traumas such an incident produces — for the boy who killed his cousin, for the adults in the family who now have to deal with guilt and rage between siblings along with the loss of a child, and for the father who is charged with improper storage of a weapon and must do jail time. Imagine how the mother feels when she looks at the son whose actions caused her husband to go to prison. Imagine the emotions of the uncle when he thinks about his brother, whose carelessness cost him his son. While this is an extreme example, family tragedies often cause traumas that haunt the family members for years.

The sudden death of a child or parent may well cause trauma in the survivors, especially if the death was caused by violence. The birth of a severely handicapped child can traumatize parents and siblings.  Though they are often put in a category of their own, sexual abuse and physical assault can also cause the symptoms of family tragedy and traumas. Even something as common as a divorce can cause trauma to a sensitive child.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to predict who will become the victim of trauma. In a family where one child is routinely abused, that child might develop coping mechanisms that allow her to live a productive life, while the guilt of the other children who witness the abuse but escape it for themselves might lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that will interfere with their lives for years to come.

Treating Trauma Caused by Family Tragedy

A primary question to be posed when treating victims of family trauma is whether the victim is safe in the home environment. Family members who are trying to cope with the death of a loved one may be able to find sufficient relief through outpatient therapy. However, if the trauma is caused by sexual or physical abuse, it might be best to consider giving the victim safe haven in a residential trauma treatment center or otherwise removing him or her from the abusive environment.

In either case, treatment will focus on teaching the trauma sufferer ways to relieve the symptoms of the trauma. Coping mechanisms can help redirect obsessive thoughts of the trauma. Relaxation techniques might alleviate insomnia and other sleep disorders. Cognitive therapy will help the sufferer let go of survivor guilt or other debilitating emotions. The earlier a trauma can be diagnosed and treated, the more likely the sufferer is to recover. If you or someone you know has suffered a trauma, it’s important to get professional help as promptly as possible. Call our toll-free number today to talk to one of our counselors.