Vicarious Trauma and Human Violence

Multilayered stress is a vexing aspect of modern life for most of us—especially women!  We are physically and psychologically bombarded with stimuli that our grandparents could not have conceived.

Vicarious trauma is indirect trauma usually a result of watching or interacting with someone else who has directly experienced the trauma.

Historically, the military, medical professionals, social workers,  and first responders –law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians–were the segments of our community that daily experienced vicarious trauma.  (I am a retired firefighter and wilderness medical first responder.)

Today anyone watching, listening or reading digital media—in your face TV, twitter, Facebook, Instagram,  & internet– is subjected to sensational trauma–repeated exposure to sights, sounds, and stress of  extreme violence of humans on humans in schools, malls, airports, streets,  restaurants, theaters, churches, homes!

There is a fascination with this—as some aspects of the human psychic likes to be scared! There is an adrenalin rush. It is no accident that Halloween is such a big festival. It is a National GOT CHA! Too much scary stuff in our daily life however promotes suspicion, distrust, and fear! A graphic example of collective fear is the current political campaigns that seeking to manipulate people based on differences instead of common shared life affirming goals.

Now I grew up in an economically poor region of rural Appalachia. We never locked our doors—there was nothing to steal!  Small rural communities were very comforting in some aspects as trust and cooperation were a way of life.  In half a century life has become more complicated!


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