The Entrapping Nature of Trauma

I spend a great deal of time speaking with organizations, programs and individuals who have experienced a variety of types of trauma. I recognize that trauma is complicated and there is no one expression of it that is more common than another. It is defined as any “deeply disturbing experience.” We know that it has a significant impact to the arousal states of our brain and can affect our emotions, our ability to regulate and our behavior.

Recently I was speaking with someone who was coming out of a deep depression. When they described their circumstances, we both recognized that they were in a place where they felt very trapped by their circumstances, their environment and their own self-perceptions. It is almost as if they were in emotional confinement, not connected to significant relationships and extremely isolated. They were also recovering from a temporary illness.

I have heard this type of experience from several individuals. It has been clear to me that these situations where it seems like there is no escape can be very traumatizing. It can leave individuals with a great deal of fear, apprehension, desperation, and powerlessness. I think any of us who are feeling stuck in a room where there are no exit doors can develop that deep sense of isolation. If we don’t have a perception of a possible escape route, it can be traumatizing.

Personal power, relational connections and emotional freedom and mobility are essential to being a healthy and fulfilled individual. The entrapped individual experiences exactly the opposite. This sense of impotence whether real or perceptual leaves anyone with a sense of desperation for how their needs could be met and aren’t. If this is experienced long-term, we must realize that the impact of this condition is debilitating.

It is important to think about how an individual in this condition can be released. There is not one approach that will work. But, if we can give permission to find a strategy that will help them escape the sense of entrapment we can help them break free of the traumatic impact.

It could be leaving of a toxic relationship, a change in activities, a perception change, some guidance to help them find a way out, some activities that will energize them or another strategy that could give them hope for release. Sometimes therapy is warranted but what we need to know is that individuals need to be rescued from their trapped lives. We can offer hope when we show them the way out of their situation along with patience to allow them to take charge of their lives by the process of establishing personal freedom. That sense of escape is such a gift! It can be tremendously healing to the trauma of entrapment.

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