At WTLC, we work with all survivors of domestic violence (DV) and human trafficking (HT), as well as those who cause harm in DV or HT situations. Last year, we provided support to 21 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other related domestic violence concerns.
Some survivors of domestic violence may be veterans themselves, may have endured harm from a veteran, or may be a survivor experiencing symptoms related to PTSD. While symptoms of PTSD may vary, common symptoms include flashbacks, avoiding reminders of the trauma, negative beliefs or feelings, and hyperarousal or hypervigilance. Additionally, those who experience PTSD may be triggered by a specific scent, sound, person, or environment – which can lead to unhealthy coping tools such as substance misuse or emotional numbing.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be described as a mental health condition stemming from experiencing traumatic situations. Arguably, the condition has been around since the beginning of human existence, but it wasn’t until 1980 that the DSM-III coined the term and recognized it as a mental health disorder. Prior to that, many different names were used to describe the condition, such as shell shock, soldier’s heart, combat fatigue, or war neurosis. Thus, many people still think of veterans when they think of PTSD.
Although Veterans may be the target population that many visualize when thinking of PTSD, it is essential to raise awareness about this mental health concern and how PTSD can affect many different populations as well. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs published a report in September of this year that found that in 2020, there was an average of 17 veteran suicides per day https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/data-sheets/2022/2022-National-Veteran-Suicide-Prevention-Annual-Report-FINAL-508.pdf. It should be noted, however, that active campaigns of mental health and suicide prevention at the county, state and federal levels have had a positive impact in the reductions of veteran suicide. For 2 consecutive years (even during the COVID-19 pandemic), suicide rates for veterans fell 9.7% and are now at their lowest levels since 2006. Thus, the relationship between mental health, veteran status, and PTSD is something that continues to need to be addressed.
At WTLC, we conduct a PTSD Processing Group every Tuesday at 5 PM in both English and Spanish. This group provides psychoeducation about the impact trauma has on the overall well-being of a person and provides participants with a healthy environment to engage in conversation about PTSD and learn healthy coping mechanisms. All of our clinicians are trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) – a therapeutic modality designed specifically to alleviate PTSD symptoms. In addition, all of our participants are encouraged to navigate our Sensory Room, as trauma can often be stored as a somatic memory and a properly guided approach to physiological stimulation can further aid in the healing process. This sensory room allows participants to reconnect with and regulate their senses through visual, tactile, and auditory arousal.
Anyone can reach out to WTLC’s 24/7 Bilingual Helpline to get more information regarding our PTSD processing group, EMDR therapy, or our clinical services sensory room. Raising awareness towards the complexity of PTSD and drawing the connection and similarities about how different groups experience PTSD is essential in order to continue to help support veterans and non-veterans alike to overcome their traumatic pasts and move on to live fruitful and thriving lives.
For more information, please call our 24/7 helpline at 1-877-531-5522.