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by Jess, August 16, 2023 , In Depression , Fighting Against Stigma

Maintaining Autonomy During Trauma Survival

Trauma survivors often experience varying degrees of loss of control over their life and body during the traumatic event. This loss of control can result in the development of Stockholm Syndrome, which is characterized by the victim forming an emotional bond with their abuser. Trauma survivors need to maintain their autonomy during these periods to prevent Stockholm Syndrome from taking root. In this blog post, we will discuss various strategies that trauma survivors can employ to maintain their autonomy even while in traumatic situations.

Understand your rights:
One of the first things trauma survivors must do to maintain their autonomy during traumatic situations is to understand their rights. When a survivor realizes that they have the right to their body and their life, they can assert themselves accordingly. This knowledge of their rights can also provide them with a sense of control over their situation. Survivors must know what their legal options are, such as obtaining restraining orders, pressing charges, reporting the crime, or seeking medical, emotional, and legal support.

Build a support system:
Trauma survivors need a support system to help them emotionally and mentally. A counselor or a support network of friends and family can provide an environment where they can share their feelings and experiences. Survivors can also draw strength from the support that they receive. Cultivating relationships with people who genuinely care for them and have their best interests in mind helps survivors develop trust in others and rebuild their self-worth.

Identify ways to assert boundaries:
In traumatic situations, survivors must identify ways to assert boundaries to retain their autonomy. Setting boundaries is ensuring that one’s limits are known, making it easier to identify behaviors that are harmful and require intervention. When boundaries are set, survivors are empowered to decide what is acceptable and what is not. This understanding gives them a sense of power and autonomy.

Recognize triggers and develop coping mechanisms:
When trauma survivors recognize what triggers them, they can develop coping mechanisms to reduce the impact of these triggers. For instance, a survivor car accident may trigger panic attacks when they are near cars. By talking about the car accident, they can develop healthy coping mechanisms to reduce anxiety. The survivor may develop a routine to control the anxiety by gradually becoming familiar with being near cars.

Speak up for yourself:
Trauma survivors must learn how to speak up for themselves. This skill takes time and practice, but it is the most effective way to assert themselves and maintain autonomy. Avoiding communication or confrontation, fear of retaliation, and doubts about being heard are common reasons why a survivor might not speak up. By using “I” statements and calmly stating boundaries and expectations, you can maintain autonomy in traumatic situations.

Maintaining autonomy during trauma survival is integral to a survivor’s well-being. Survivors can ensure their safety and allow for the healing of psychological and physical wounds when they maintain their self-worth and autonomy. Developing emotional and mental strength, understanding their rights, setting clear boundaries for themselves, recognizing triggers, and speaking up for themselves are some strategies that help in maintaining autonomy during a challenging time. You are not alone in your struggle, and maintaining autonomy can be a step towards the journey of healing. What do you think?