The Truth About Trauma

Abigail Sciannella, Staff Writer

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Let’s face it, mental illness jokes are remarkably normalized in our teenage society. The most popular one I’ve heard?
“Are you triggered?”

This “joke” can be extraordinarily harmful to more students than most people may think. The truth is there are far more young people who deal with a personal trauma, a constant war that goes on inside their head. These young people struggle for normality as they try and cope with what happened to them in the past or what may still be happening to them.

And no, they don’t find your joke funny.

Off the top of my head I can think of over a dozen of kids who I know that have  experienced sexual trauma, a handful of kids that have experienced emotional abuse, and several kids who have been in severe accidents that have left them traumatized. All of these young people wake up crying from nightmares or find themselves having random panic attacks just thinking about their situation. Some even want to leave this life because they simply can’t cope.

I know several girls who no longer like being touched because, more than once, it wasn’t consensual. I know another who no longer enjoys driving because of a massive accident she experienced. I know a boy who was bullied so badly he still wakes up with the perpetrator’s names echoing in his head. I know dozens of people who hate themselves for circumstances forced upon them by other people. I know far too many innocent people who struggle day to day with the horrors in their lives and in their head; individuals who get triggered and can lose their fragile stability in the blink of an eye.

According to the National Center For Victims Of Crime and RAINN, a nonprofit anti-sexual assault organization, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are sexually abused, a crime which has a 94% rate for causing PTSD.

ChildHelp, a nonprofit organization that helps children escape abusive homes, reports that there are over 3.6 million referrals made to child protection agencies every year. This organization also states that abusive homes have a 80% rate of causing PTSD.

The  National Center for PTSD reports that as many as 40% of kids under the age of 18 have experienced a form of trauma. That’s millions of kids in the US alone who have experienced the hell that is PTSD. These young people – almost half of kids – are forced to relive their trauma over and over.

Another outcome of this trauma is, of course, the panic attacks. Have you ever had one? It restricts your breathing, makes your head race and your body sweat. You’re dizzy, lightheaded, and it feels like the room is spinning. Your chest hurts and you think you’re going to throw up. It isn’t fun.

All of these statistics present the horrors that so many young people face each and every day, which is what being triggered is like and what causes it. So no, it isn’t remotely funny.

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