The Truth

Finding the Courage to Speak Up

Praying for strength.

A friend of mine recently asked for prayers for a relative hurt in a bad wreck.

It was and is a scary time for her and the family and I’m not saying it isn’t hard on all of them – or him. He has a long road ahead and life will never be the same. She posted updates on her Facebook page about his progress and more people than I could count commented well wishes, prayers, and sent money.

It is what I have found throughout the last few years, physical injuries and known medical problems are treated like they are life and death, but mental illness and trauma that can’t be seen are basically ignored.

When in fact the trauma we endured has left us needing just as much in need of thoughts, prayers and caring people around us. Yet, somehow people don’t know how to help those who have endured trauma they can’t see.

We are facing life and death as well, just silently. I myself, have come close to death four times which is more than most who endure physical trauma. So, where does that leave us and what can we do about it?

Well, we can begin to educate people that trauma that has occurred to a person is with them from the moment it happens until it can be worked through with the help of professionals.

The work it takes is not fixed like realigning a bone, pushing a pain medication or physical therapy. Instead it takes often times many years to work through the emotional and physical aspects that affect us because of the trauma we endured.

Years that we need support along-side us as well to help us get better. It has been studied and shown that trauma takes much longer to get over without any support system outside of a counselor. Without family, friends, or other people walking along-side you the trauma recovery process is greatly extended.

It is part of struggle we face after enduring sexual assault. Often times we spend years in silence before getting help, if help is ever sought. It is difficult to open up about what happened to us, even to professionals. So, sometimes we think it’s easier to try to ignore it than to open up old wounds.

Except those wounds will fester and bleed until they get the help they need, just as a physical wound would. We endure physical pain like fibromyalgia, stomach issues, headaches, sleeplessness, nightmares, eating struggles, and other problems from what we endured.

So, explaining to people that any trauma that is endured cannot be forgotton or “gotten past by just forgetting and moving on.”

One traumatic event can take a long time to work through it, process it, and talk through how it affected you. Years of repeated trauma will take many years to work through.

I do believe trauma is trauma and there is no comparing, but when the trauma first occurred makes a difference in how we were able to handle it as well. If you were a young child, not having learned coping strategies, the effects are quite different than enduring that same event at the age of 20.

Both need to be worked through and can have lasting effects, but the difference of what age they occurred matters in how fast you can work through it.

I really want to explain this people, and maybe I will when the time is right. However, I will readily admit I do not speak up as I should about my trauma. It’s easy to write on here and allow someone to read it, but talking face to face is beyond intimidating to me.

Just the other day when asked why I am not teaching I said, “I had some health problems.” Not a lie, but not the whole truth either.

It’s just when I say I have complex PTSD, or major traumatic events from childhood to work through people act like I am an alien. Then I shrink away in shame and I feel “I” did something wrong even though I didn’t.

I keep praying for courage to speak up and educate people about trauma and how it effects us, but I have quite a ways to go. It’s my prayer that one day we can all speak out about what happened to us and make the world aware that we are not crazy, but just as in need of help as someone who endured physical trauma.

May God give you strength and the words to say when you need them.

© 2020 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.


Susan is an author and speaker who loves to share her journey of God's redemption and encourage others as they look to God. As a former elemetary teacher with a passion for teaching, Susan also owns her own tutoring and consulting business where she empowers students and parents in reading. Susan lives in Lee's Summit, Missouri, with her adorable and grumpy Persian cat, Mia.

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