ARE YOU THE VICTIM OF VICARIOUS TRAUMA? Jill Raiguel, MFT

Are you or someone you care about susceptible to secondary trauma? Are you being traumatized by TV and movie violence? You can even be traumatized by someone just telling you about a traumatic event. That could be a car accident, a fire, an abuse, a frightening experience.

Some of us, especially people like me who are highly sensitive, are very susceptible to vicarious or what I call secondary trauma that I discuss in my book, Alternative Healing Beyond Recovery. I like the word secondary because the event is not happening to you directly, but you can be victimized secondarily. For example, if I watch an explosion on the news too many times, I can start to relay the visual in my mind and that could cause me problems.

I’m reminded of this when I see the news playing and replaying explosions, or accidents, or bombings over and over again. I’ve had clients who get traumatic stress symptoms just from watching the news or their favorite CSI show. Symptoms can include: anxiety, panic, flashbacks, nightmares, depressions, agitation, heart racing, and/or depression.

Here’s what I do to take care of myself and avoid secondary trauma. I limit watching TV news; I even mute violent replays of the same story. I avoid violent movies. If I’m watching a DVD, I fast forward the violent parts. If a friend is telling about something traumatic and it starts to overwhelm me, I ask him or her to tell me the short version. And, I explain why so I don’t appear rude.

Jill Raiguel, author, shamanic and soul retrieval practitioner. Visit www.jillibean.com or jillraiguel@gmail.com.

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