Many times in a person’s life they may come across another person who is violent to the extreme. Sadly they end up with ongoing physical, maybe neurological, difficulties with their health from that moment in time. Reading this might cause some triggering, ‘bad emotional response; anger, anxiety, sadness, pain). However I do feel that what I’m discussing here is more critical for you to know than to ignore because of possible negative response. Please do take the time to read, share, respond. This is our ongoing multitude of issues revolving around our history of tolerating personal violence inside our homes, which simply ‘trains’ our children to tolerate this in their life, affecting their children, who then accept their own level of suffering in their life, which then affects their children and so on, etc……..
Our topic of Head Trauma from Violence can be viewed as the same information provided for the football players in repeated concussions. The biggest difference, the football player has a helmet and body pads. Inside a home of violence however, you never know when things might go extreme and if you are a child, to have a person twice your size and maybe 3x your weight; the end result can most definitely be death or lingering physical or neurological issues from the trauma.
We, our ‘decent’ human society, often feels as if this subject matter is being discussed to either get pity for things they have already survived or climbed above, or it is considered to be ‘Too Intense’ for common conversation. How about the fact that most of us know someone who is being violently or sexually attacked on a regular basis, or at least once in their lifetime anyway. The length of time a person endures these traumatic experiences depends on a few specifics;
- How old are they? – Do they have the ability of age to speak up, get help, drive a car; get away, or work to support themselves?
- What is their level of tolerance learned? – How long have they been living in this pattern of accepting violence?
- What is their perception of self? Do they feel they deserve this type of treatment? Do they believe they can survive to pay their own way through life without someone who hurts them verbally/physically/sexually?
- Do they have a close friend to talk to or who will get them help when needed; hopefully medical help and a police report?
This constant level of extreme violence, which quite often involves threats with weapons, use of weapons, threats of death or sudden violent attacks without cause of anger. This happens more often when people on are heavy types of illicit drugs such as Meth or even heavy drinking. I personally know a lot of people who are affected by drinking Whiskey or Tequila. Drinking, rather it is wine or whiskey is a very common act which happens in almost every household. This is something our kids learn as social behavior and many of them in our inner city or urban areas see drastic levels of drug or alcohol use on a regular basis. This is not to leave out our rural or rich society, because it most definitely is a staple of coping life in their homes as well.
Since I’ve worked much of my life as a bartender, (an excellent backup skill to always have an income); also I grew up in an alcoholic and drug enticing environment; I’ve seen people under the influence on different levels of drinking or illicit drugs. In this type of human acceptance of drinking and the BAR environment; I’ve seen first hand how alcohol has the greatest negative response for many people. They are trying to cope with the struggles of their life, maybe past trauma, but instead of finding a peaceful place they find an angry place. This will cause many family arguments, many of those simply because someone was in eyesight so they end up getting attacked. Violence is an instant reaction caused by someone who has reached their angry place inside. The choice to act against another person can be triggered by conversation, being in a difficult environment, around people they feel are a threat to their identity, or from the chemical reaction of the alcohol itself.
The violence usually begins on a verbal foundation, suddenly a rage in the person’s reactions; slamming a fist on the table or couch, stomping their foot, throwing an item, or suddenly grabbing the person who is closest to them. The violence can quickly become intensely dangerous, which results in kicking, punching, strangulation, or by slamming the person’s head against a solid surface. This is when it becomes most life threatening and could cause a lasting trauma within the brain itself from possible bruising on the brain, just like what happens in the concussion injury of our major NFL Players or the controversial high school football when they begin to get more physically developed to cause an injury.
Myself, I lost count of how many times I was actually knocked out or had my head bashed against a solid surface in a violent attack. I’ve been slammed repeatedly against dashboards, windows, mirrors, stoves, refrigerators, doors, walls, even a huge tree slab that was meant to be a table top about eight inches thick. There was NEVER any type of medical follow up to confirm a concussion, especially during my childhood. No way could my parents risk taking me to the doctor and having my leather strap lashes and bashed up head examined; the state would have taken their family slave immediately. This is why most people in a violent home rarely receive the necessary medical treatment. I’ve had cracked or broken ribs, couldn’t move or breathe well for weeks. I’ve had both collar bones broken at the end from having my shoulder area smashed against a wall or stomped on while being kicked in the head.
Today, in my mid 50’s, there are a lot of chronic pain issues from injuries. There is also the Fibromyalgia from living in a constantly high stress environment. Our medical community have confirmed that Fibromyalgia ‘can be directly connected to the Fight or Flight Response’. Our human system is designed to enhance our adrenaline and heightened response to threat. However, if you cannot change your situation and cannot avoid being harmed, your body’s reaction to stress becomes confused. Your nerve endings go into an intense reaction from the heightened response, yet you are physically not able to do anything to get away; this causes a ‘trained’ intense neurological response to any sense of ‘threat’ and becomes a cramping, burning and intense pain in the upper body, pressure builds up in your forearms and calves, then shoots down into your fingers and feet as if they are on fire. I’ve found that Lyrica is the best medication for this type of pain, but Coping Skills must be used to calm your intense reaction so that your body & adrenaline response also calm, which then loosens the muscle contraction and burning sensation. Fibromyalgia is commonly found in those with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It is also found more in women, but I believe that men have not yet been fully examined in this research as they are just beginning to seek out help when in a violent relationship. Fibromyalgia is also found in those who have been in a threatening situation for a long period of time.
These are just a few lasting injuries from violent trauma, which are directly linked to possible ongoing disabling and chronic results which impact our nation’s healthcare system. Since many of us are harmed as children, we tend to accept a certain level of violent (verbal, physical, sexual) depending on what you lived through during your formidable years. It’s important to consider the types of influence on our growing deficit as well. The cost of those who cannot work for their independent survival income, either because of physical or emotional injury from violence and abusive actions; these millions of persons become a national responsibility, which we all know is already crippled, bankrupt, and out of control.
However, if we are trained to spot the WARNING SIGNS OF TRAUMA & VIOLENCE, as given from many reputable organizations who are experts on these traumas. I have also developed a presentation which connects all factors of violence, sexual trauma, and the result of what can become human trafficking or exploitation. ‘A View from the Inside’ is available for viewing but is copyright research which has taken about three years to put together in the total connection of what can become the most dangerous place in the world; the connection of ‘Family Violence & Human Trafficking’. This is a crucial topic in our society and should be a priority topic for all of our elected officials and our service providers, regardless if you are a neighbor, family member, educator, law enforcement, or healthcare professional. You NEED to know what are those unspoken signs of trauma?
According to this attached article & graphic from American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, there is a very strong correlation between Adverse Childhood Experience, especially in those who score between a 4 to 8 on the counted scale of what you endured. The higher your score on the ACE Study creates a 95% greater risk of early disability, which can become a complete dependency on Social Security Income & Medicare/Medicaid for ongoing health related challenges.
In closing, think of Shaken Baby Syndrome, if we consider how detrimental to natural development is interrupted by shaking a baby, causing their brain to bounce off the skull, then what is also the cognitive and lasting affect after concussion or bashing a teen or adult head repeatedly for an extended period of time? This is something I am researching now as I focus on the growing impact of violence in our society, especially in family violence with rarely any type of medical attention received. Most of the injuries go unreported as a whole, and the victims are taught to ‘simply walk it off’ type of conditioning to tolerance. We cannot end the travesty in our society of street violence or school violence, until we tackle the growing pandemic of ‘Family Related Violence & Trauma’.
Thanks for reading and I do hope you will help share this crucial information. When we can provide needed medical help, we reduce the possibility of permanent injury and in the end also reduce the high risk of injury and early disabling conditions.
Something to think about…..
Patricia “Trish’’ McKnight
CSA Survivor Force Regional Spokesperson
Family Violence & Child Sexual Trauma Specialist
Cert Human Trafficking Trainer 2013
IL Cert DV Support Advocate 2012
Panel Member DV Offender Education Reform Program
Assisting victims & families since Nov 2010