Managing Trauma Impact

Question

How to deal with people with trauma who cross your boundaries because of it?

Answer

When a loved one is going through a difficult time in their healing journey, they may look to you for support or encouragement. However, it is important to remember that your own mental health is important too. Trauma is extremely painful and sometimes no matter what you do as a bystander, it can feel like not enough. At times like these, you may need to set boundaries to ensure that your needs are addressed as well. Setting boundaries can be difficult, especially if you have not had much practice. First, think about what your needs and limits are. This can include the level of financial, emotional, and physical help you are willing to provide. When you are ready, share with your loved one in a calm situation, rather than in the heat of the moment. Use β€œI” statements to show your perspective. After you have communicated these boundaries, it is important to follow through and re-emphasize them when needed. Resist feelings of guilt. This does not mean you do not care about them. You can also help by suggesting other means of support. Therapists or local crisis centers have experience working with people with trauma and are trained to help. You may also find these services helpful for your own processing. It is not uncommon for local crisis centers to also offer services for loved ones of those who have experienced trauma. Just because someone has experienced trauma, does not mean that they have a right to take their anger out on you. If you feel that you are being verbally, physically, or sexually harmed, set a limit if it feels safe, remove yourself from the situation, and seek help if you need it. It can be difficult to help your friends if you run out of emotional or physical energy. Focusing on your own self-care is not selfish, it sometimes may be necessary. As the saying goes, put your mask on first...then offer assistance.

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