Trauma stewards. Who will care for the trauma if the trauma hits all? Plank out of your own eye…. Luke 6:42 …. blah blah blah. Right?
High levels of violence. National news highlights abuse, abusers and the abused. High profile case accuses an Oklahoma City staff member acting against the public. Calls for aid, change and respect, funding, training and measurable improvements. Questions as to who will lead, what is effective leadership and is the internal underbelly of a system a more powerful motivator than the top down government by rank? Does the Oklahoma City leadership, whether business, civic, faith or government wish for a safer Oklahoma City?
This series is about to wind down in this coverage of current and varied perspectives of Oklahoma City interpersonal violence, particularly the sexual assault response. Some of the conversations the public tries to have with City officials or with staff of responding agencies is dealt with as if it is merely complaining. This particular article gives some more direct credence to expressed concerns, which are probably not going to come forward from public voices, nor from systems to the public. This particular article is 17 in a series that again looks at the assets and liabilities in a way that hopefully generates some idea of meaningful better critical pathways.
Critical pathways. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7486490 Critical pathways have been in play exactly by term since the middle 1990’s. The research which colors the rest of this article is below and was was released in 2013, http://www.netce.com/ lesson 744 by Dr. S. Megan Berthold. Don’t get skittish because this all seems so official. Simply following this series increases the chances of having better language to move to better services in any camp: as the public, providers or government to improve services.
A famous professional social worker named Dr. S. Megan Berthold has studied extensively the issues of trauma second to severe events, like war, torture and disasters. Berthold has some pretty useable material with regards to better understanding what happens in systems of response when there is undue stress on the system or responders.
Berthold’s material matches a good bit of the observation of the visiting Mamides pediatrician at the October 2013 conference in OKC, who suggested quite directly that Oklahoman’s might be experiencing some version of PTSD, second to the EF5 in deuces tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, prairie fires and even more remote trauma of the OKC Bombing. Mix this up with historic traumas like Native American relocations, Tulsa Race Riots and poverty or recurrent drought or oil booms and busts… Does Oklahoma have increased risks as indicated for reactivity, and improper response to trauma or human rights issues simply because of this? This visiting pediatrician, along with two child psychiatrists would know. They responded to their community’s natural disasters of hurricane flooding on the East coast. For days. They spent a day teaching OKC mental health and medical providers on that exact subject.
Basically, what Berthold said that people, not surprisingly, under stress can mis-respond to problems when personally or situationally placed under extreme stress or in the face of trauma, war or torture. Basically, in overloaded systems, the problems keep coming and the resource in systems, including the human resource can become depleted, tipped, damaged or dissolved and in that… bad things can begin to happen across the board. War. Torture.Trauma. Yes. We are in THAT club, it seems. And double that natural or historic concern with spiking problems of men killing women (we are 3rd in the nation, 5th in gangs and 9th in interpersonal violence) and such.
True that, the reader says. More people have an idea of what any kind trauma looks like up and running given exposure to those previously mentioned events, and living in a country which has been at war for years, along with advancing community and international issues of war and violence. Mix having war for more than 10 years with returning veterans, refugees and even that college rape study shows who is up and running in possible strains of some degree of trauma every day. It is not foreign or remote.
Systems that deal in complicated issues, which require a specialized response, like advanced medicine or police investigations….. which are underfunded and under trained and under supported in pursuing and acting on professionalism by administrations in policy, custom or law in Oklahoma, are at very high risk to cause the system staff and actions of the staff to crash. Not good.
Berthold’s point is that systems that are over extended, so police, cps, court and other first responders may not have access to proper resources to build and retain a better self, and thereby a better system of response. This issue is called burn out, and vicarious trauma. These are two different things, which have some very specific functions. See that video clip below for this data.
Per Berthold, any level of systems or even individuals within those systems which are showing signs of liabilities such as low insight, low knowledge of how a problem….. or better yet how a solution functions, often have low energy to develop and maintain better systems. When the primary system is dysfunctional, it plays out for the employees there and then in the services delivered. Thereby gross practice errors and systems induced traumas. When whatever problem one had in report to say the police is then exacerbated in stress and content by attempting the report and the police response to the reporter causes more problems or completely causes the situation to jump the track.
Empathy is the response of caring that one can give, to a person who is having a problem or stress or trauma even if the listener has not had same. http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/empathy Berthold has an online video that looks a three of her 4 identified versions of damaged empathy. Readers who want to see the entire ride, would need to order the NETCEU class, #744 above. This is the video: http://vimeo.com/36725944 These blindspots in empathy which seem to cause burnout, and in that burnout or vicarious trauma it impairs the response of the responder. As described in the prior paragraph.
If the system of service itself is not well thought out, not planned to best practices, or has had to develop some rigged up pinch hitting reply to whatever the system is responsible for, then hitting daily issues or hitting a big issue merely causes the system itself to function in more crisis and actually to dispense crises. Trainwreck.
Practicing stewardship over questions of healthy and damaged empathy, vicarious trauma, historic trauma, immediate and acute stress and PTSD requires awareness it is a risk at certain points in time. Having this awareness requires some decision to consider issues such as this, and who has been able to conceptualize those issues and a willingness to develop skills of observation, personal balance and response which allow for self or systemic audits with the intention of improving. There are miles of if then situations possible over these concepts. Best to let the reader flesh that out in discussions or further readings.
Better thinking is that of a trauma steward who spends a fair amount of time in reflection on choices, effects and critical pathways….. think “update your apps”, according to some very specific traits in wellness. People who show traits of success at this have a self assessment profile, go to expert consultants and options for round tables with people who have some sense about best practices and who strive for better.
Pretty much every article in this series identifies that the increase in interpersonal violence problems is happening for various reasons in OKC. But internal drives on the part of each systemic group involved, whether government, law enforcement, agencies, civic or religious organizations or any in-between will have to develop and express some desire this be different. Then discover how the issue(s) work and discover what else might happen if different tactics are applied to better understand the issues faced, consider resources, apply resources, check again for what needs attentions and rinse repeat for best results.
This is a situation which can be addressed, and not retrieved, but changed from core stances of error to improved and meaningful responses.
Who will invest in next right things for trauma stewardship as Oklahoma City explodes in growth? Indecision, lack of consideration of the issue and rape culture all simply stall service components and better caring response. Share this article with your elected officials, your neighbor or lover, someone at your job, your church, your dinner table or coffee klatch. It matters. And it must be discussed and decisions must be made to improve safety in self and towards others.