There were three of us veteran wives who began to realize the far reaching effects of trauma. Judy Kennedy, Vicki Lockman and myself began really seeking God about what we were sensing, and asked Him for wisdom and insight.

Read the introduction post to Athena Dean Holtz’s series called “Dealing with PTSD” which lays the groundwork for some practical steps to help those suffering from PTSD.

As we talked with other veteran wives and heard their stories, their backgrounds of trauma and abuse, we began to put the puzzle pieces together.

WHO WERE THESE TRAUMA SURVIVORS WITH PTSD?

It became clear it was not only vets and their wives, but women who experienced any one or combination of the following:

  • Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse as children
  • Rape
  • Domestic violence
  • Growing up in the home of alcoholic parents
  • Abortion
  • Natural disaster
  • Cult survivors
  • Worked as first responders, professionals working with traumas such as EMT’s, emergency room nurses, etc.
  • The traumatic death of another, as in murder, suicide, etc.

The more we looked at our own lives and the lives of other women involved in the veteran’s ministry, we began to identify some characteristics and behavior patterns that gave away the fact that we were walking wounded:

  • Workaholics and overachievers
  • Tough, survivor types
  • Overcommitted in church and charities
  • Silent victims
  • Successful in business yet neglecting family and relationships
  • Eating disorders
  • Compulsive habits and behaviors
  • Childhood memories impaired
  • Superwoman / supermom syndrome
  • Very independent
  • Cold and calculating
  • Skeptical and untrusting
  • Martyr syndrome
  • Perfectionism
  • Severe PMS

BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER, LET’S LOOK AT A BASIC DEFINITION OF POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS:

PTSD is a natural reaction to an unnatural situation. The individual has experienced an event that is outside the range of normal human experience. The distressing event is persistently relived, and the individual deliberately avoids anything that could remind them of the distressing event or becomes numb to general responsiveness.

(NAM VET: Making Peace with Your Past by Chuck Dean)

Let’s face it. Traumas are hard to wrap our heads and hearts around. It could be a traumatic event perpetrated on an individual, as in sexual abuse, rape or domestic violence, or a trauma they’ve been caught in the middle of and are an innocent bystander of, as in a natural disaster, discovering a suicide victim, or tending to a car wreck fatality as part of their job.

These extremely emotionally destructive situations are hard to make sense of, so a person will typically either go crazy from the pain or harden their hearts and stuff it away and move into denial. From one extreme to the other, that’s a typical human response to something that is so horrific we just can’t make sense of it.

IN THE NEXT POST WE’LL LOOK AT THE SYMPTOMS OF PTSD AND GIVE YOU AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE MY STRESS TEST. AS WE GO INTO DEPTH ON THIS TOPIC, PLEASE CONSIDER THIS: WHILE YOU MAY NOT PERSONALLY STRUGGLE WITH POST TRAUMATIC STRESS, THE TRUTH IS, EVERYONE KNOWS SOMEONE WHO IS HURTING FROM PAST TRAUMA IN THEIR LIVES.

I pray that you would take this information, and allow it to be a resource … to help you help others. There are way too many women in the pews of our churches, hurting and suffering silently, and they often don’t even know why.

Until next time,

Athena Dean Holtz

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