Trauma is an experience or situation that is emotionally painful and distressing, and that overwhelms people’s ability to cope, leaving them powerless.
Whether you are a Genocide survivor, involved in an accident or natural disaster, or were the victim of childhood abuse, the resulting trauma is similar.
As Rwanda marks the 17th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, many trauma cases are likely to occur among the Genocide survivors.
According to Yvonne Kayiteshonga the Coordinator of Mental Health in the Ministry of Health overcoming trauma requires that survivors avoid people, places or activities that trigger memories of what happened.
“Sharing your thoughts, feelings and reactions to the events with people you trust will be helpful in overcoming trauma cases,” she adds.
Kayiteshonga appeals to Genocide survivors to become aware of their emotional triggers and learn to cope with them creatively by engaging in positive self-talk.
“Do whatever it takes to create a feeling of safety and tranquillity in your immediate environment and try as quickly as possible to resume your normal activities and routines because traumatic events can throw your life into a state of chaos.
The sooner you resume these activities and routines, the better,” she explains. Even if you were victimised, it doesn’t mean you should remain a victim. People shouldn’t continue in a state of helplessness because it is very limiting. So it’s better to keep minds focussed on a better future.
If you do not feel comfortable sharing your struggles with a family member or friend, seek counseling or join a local support group. Exercises also help in dealing with trauma because energizing activities reduce stress.
Stick to a routine, get adequate amounts of sleep and eat appropriately, these simple things provide stability in life.
By following the steps outlined above, you will emerge as a survivor. Traumatic experiences can make you a stronger and wiser person. The potential is there for you to learn and grow in ways you may not have even considered had the trauma never occurred.