“I don’t think she ever gave a thought to what Howard might be hiding behind his coal-black eyes. No one thought about post-traumatic stress disorder in those days. A man just went to war, waded through his buddies’ blood and guts, killed the men who killed his friends, and then, without fanfare, came home and started a family. To the government and society, this was a simple sequence. No one considered the potential ramifications of witnessing the horrors of war.” Excerpt from Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe
Lisa Cypers Kamen, MA Executive Director, Harvesting Happiness says, “When PTSD transfers from the battlefield to the home, this disorder quickly becomes a family affair. So set an extra plate at dinner tonight; PTSD is joining you. One of the things I hear time and time again is that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an isolated condition. If you think that’s true, you’re not alone; I used to be one of those people. But when I began working with veterans, I discovered something profound: PTSD affects every person in the sufferer’s life, from spouses to children to extended family to friends. Secondhand trauma is real, and if it lingers untreated, can be just as scarring as having PTSD yourself. For children, the exposure to PTSD is especially toxic.
Children who see their parents struggle with PTSD typically respond one of three ways. Some take on the role of the rescuer, taking on a parental role to compensate for their parent’s difficulties. Other children begin to withdraw when they stop receiving the emotional support they need from mom or day. For a third group of children, the result is secondhand trauma. Through this process, the parent’s horrors become the child’s horrors, and child lives out his parent’s legacy of suffering. Secondhand trauma robs children of their youth, creating a lasting heritage of doubt, mistrust, and a fear of reliving the hurt one’s parent has endured.”
This resource guide was produced at the Trauma Center, with the funding of the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA)