As a little girl, I was drawn to scary pictures, reveling in the suspense and drama they offered. It was like a game, trying to guess the ending or the next twist based on clues throughout the film. However, as I grew older and experienced trauma, my relationship with suspense changed.

Trauma, particularly PTSD, rewrote the rules of suspense in my life. Unlike the controlled thrill of a movie, trauma was an uninvited guest, replaying its scenes relentlessly. Recently, I woke up feeling a presence, my heart racing, overwhelmed by sadness, feeling dirty and undeserving. It was like living in a horror movie that never ended.

As a single mom, life doesn’t pause for trauma. I go through the motions, trying to be there for my children, work, cook, and clean, even when I lack the energy. The suspense and drama I once enjoyed on screen now play out in my bedroom, uninvited and unwelcome.

Therapy has been a lifeline, offering tools to navigate this haunted existence. However, healing isn’t linear, and society often fails to understand the ongoing impact of trauma. Therapy doesn’t magically erase the past; it teaches us how to move differently in the world.

Navigating trauma is like living in a perpetual suspense thriller, where the protagonist must keep going, even when every fiber screams to pause. It’s a journey of learning to utilize the tools therapy offers, even in the darkest of nights.

Trauma can be particularly challenging to address, especially when societal perceptions often misplace blame onto victims, creating a barrier for individuals to speak up. There’s a prevalent notion that dwelling on traumatic events is unproductive and that faith should be sufficient to overcome these challenges. However, the reality is more complex, especially for African Americans who face disproportionate risks. African-American children are nearly twice as likely to experience sexual abuse, and this risk doesn’t diminish with age. Factors like economic background also elevate the risk of domestic violence and victimization among African Americans. These statistics, sourced from the Department of Justice, underscore the gravity of these issues.

Another significant factor contributing to PTSD prevalence among African-American women is the persistent presence of racism and colorism. Studies from the University of Michigan indicate that African Americans are more likely to experience race-related stressors and oppression, which can intensify feelings of victimization. Even perceived discrimination or race-related verbal assaults can increase the risk of PTSD.

PTSD is commonly understood as a response to a specific traumatic event, but prolonged exposure to various stressors can create a cycle of ongoing issues. For many black women, expressing the need for help is challenging, especially when mental health professionals are predominantly white. This lack of cultural understanding and awareness creates barriers to effective treatment and trust in the therapeutic process.
Building trust is essential in PTSD recovery, as it requires a unique level of assistance and communication. Overcoming the stigma associated with PTSD is crucial. It’s important not to feel embarrassed or ashamed of the experiences that have shaped us. Embracing our stories and seeking help are vital steps toward healing and resilience. It’s crucial for society to acknowledge and understand the unique challenges faced by African-American women to move forward collectively.


Photo Credit: Neuroscience News