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An Inspiration to So Many Trauma Survivors

Last updated on April 28, 2021

Am drafting this while glued (seriously) to the 2nd Impeachment Trial.

Last week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) shared her experienced of hiding, fearing her impending death, on 6th January, while simply at work, doing her job.

She was articulate and avoided hyperbole, repeatedly emphasising her impressions in the moment and what later emerged as facts.

AOC disclosed her trauma history, having survived sexual assault previously.

She has also continued to be vocal about the death threats she’s been receiving for years now, all for attempting to do her job and get resources to people who need them most.

In case you missed it, you can view it below:

Listening to AOC talk about compounded trauma, I was reminded of all the trauma survivors (myself included) who’ve been triggered repeatedly by seeing the former president of the US, one of the most powerful people on the planet, mock and abuse and traumatise people over and over and over again.

And the ongoing longer exhales that I expect will get longer and more easy when a clear message of accountability is sent by the upcoming conviction by the Senate.

(I’m hopeful but not delusional. I don’t know how his apologists and enablers will vote but they must surely, at this point, recognise that their emperor has no clothes.)

It’s unrealistic to expect abusers to apologise and see the error of their ways

AOC called out abusive behaviour, she was deluged with more of the same. People who weren’t there attempted to shout over her and tell her what had REALLY happened to her.

Thanks to the work of trauma therapy pioneers such as Babette Rothchild, Bessel Van Der Kolk, Peter Levine, Stephen Porges, Deb Dana and others, we know that physiological reactions are totally normal and we can also heal by working with the body

We know, as Van Der Kolk says (online trauma conference, 2/7/20), ‘We are much better at dealing with specific trauma than the disconnect of not being seen or heard.’

I would imagine that the people minimising people’s lived experiences from 6th January (it feels healing and cathartic listening to senator after senator recall their experiences. They ARE the witnesses and the Capitol WAS the crime scene) makes things worse.

Thankfully, they’re in a minority and a conviction will further quell such hateful voices and minimise the risk of further violence.

You deserve all the support you can get as you heal

Whatever trauma/s you’ve survived, whatever you’re struggling with, please seek help.

Not necessarily online trauma therapy with me (my approach isn’t right for everyone) but with someone you trust enough to let them help you heal.

You can also access some free self care resources, including simple mind body practices, to help you with trauma responses HERE

There is a part of you that is already whole, complete. Healing. Ready to start doing more than surviving and actually thrive and flourish. Yes, it may well take time but, step by step, I hope you’ll seek out inspirational examples like AOC who’ve healed enough to be amazing examples of post traumatic growth.

Yes. It’s unfair to think of how many other things you might have done with the time and energy it took simply attempting to stay alive but you HAVE survived. You can – with time, patience, compassion and support, thrive.

If you’re reading this and are NOT a trauma survivor, please read on

Please be careful about how you choose to respond to survivors’ stories. You may not know AOC personally or that person you’re reading about in the paper or seeing on TV.

But your loved ones are watching you react.

Are you saying anything that suggests that you think you know what’s happened to them better than THEY know?

Statistically, some of your loved ones have almost certainly survived trauma. S/he may well be attempting to work out if you’re a safe person to open up to.

If you’re not already, please do your best to become worthy of their courage.

Learn to support them as they heal and, hopefully, end any ongoing traumatic situations.

I hope that AOC has supportive people around her. She has been so courageous in speaking out in spite of endless threats to her life and safety

Thank you for your courage, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (and so many other women (including Dr Christine Blasey Ford), men and children who speak up for themselves and others and make the world a better, more welcoming, safer place for everyone).

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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