dealing with trauma

…before it eats us all alive.  Trauma affects each of us and all of us.  Let’s break the cycle.

**Please note:  This article requires the reader to suspend disbelief, and remove themselves from the echo chambers that exist in their circles.  “If we keep doing what we’ve done, we’re gonna keep gettin’ what we’ve got.”  We require solutions that include perspectives of all community members.  Effective solutions require the understanding that we are all unique individuals who need one another to survive.  Without customers, there is no income for businesses.  Some of us may believe that “only the strong should survive”.  It is important to remember that even the tiny bees and mosquitoes are an equal part of the equation.  There is no “weakest link”.  Together, everyone achieves more.

An Example of Trauma

Trauma can manifest itself in the most surprising and disturbing ways, including a teacher cutting out chunks of her student’s hair, being arrested, and having a $100,000 bond.

The Red for Ed movement started as a grassroots movement, pointing out the stressors that teachers were finally able to bring up to the community.  Unfortunately, the solution that was presented by what became the organization turned to common solutions: MONEY.

It is time to recognize that MONEY does not solve the problem.  MONEY does not take away the frustrations from feeling like there is not enough TIME and too much WORK and too many HOOPS to jump through.


Where does trauma come from?

Trauma stems from the frustrations of speaking out and being DISMISSED time and time and time again.

Trauma comes from being told over and over again to DO SOMETHING that is MORALLY WRONG or UNETHICAL.

Trauma comes from being told that you must TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM over and over.

Trauma comes from being told that YOU DON’T MATTER as much as SOMEONE ELSE.

Trauma comes from the JUSTIFICATION by someone in a “RESPECTED” position who has more AUTHORITY than you do.

Trauma is SYSTEMIC in our CULTURE.

The cycle of trauma must be broken.

How We Can Break the Cycle of Trauma

***Please note that the next two sections provides discussion based on what I know about in regards to current policies, processes, practices, and budget.  There may be some inaccuracies, and if there are, I apologize in advance.  If some of the policies, processes, and practices are already in effect, that is FANTASTIC!  We must continue to do the work to ensure that policies, practices, and processes are EFFECTIVE.  Policies, processes, and practices should be flexible, not set in rock.  Think of a sea captain navigating their ship through uncharted territories.  They have an idea of where they are going, and they must be prepared and flexible to navigate unforeseen obstacles and dangers, to help the ship remain safe on the journey.***

We can break the cycle of trauma by RECOGNIZING that many of our community members are in unrecognized and unacknowledged CRISIS.  Crisis leads individuals to respond in one of three ways:  FIGHT, FLIGHT, or FREEZE.  When we have UNRECOGNIZED and UNRESOLVED CRISES, they become UNRESOLVED and UNRECOGNIZED TRAUMA.  We then have a community where individuals are FIGHTING, FREEZING, and taking FLIGHT – refusing to ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY.

We can break the cycle of trauma by RECOGNIZING that TRAUMA is SYSTEMIC.  POLICIES, PRACTICES, and BUDGETS contribute to the CYCLE OF TRAUMA.

We can break the cycle of trauma by SPEAKING UP when we witness or learn of individuals who are being CONTROLLED or MANIPULATED.  We can say something to the BULLIES (“Hey, that’s not okay.  Don’t do that.”) and something to the VICTIMS (“I am sorry that happened.  It is not okay.  How can I be helpful to you?”)

We can break the cycle of trauma by providing opportunity for, and engaging in RESTORATIVE PRACTICES.  We know that the SCHOOL to PRISON PIPELINE is not a myth.  We have evidence.  We have begun teaching our local law enforcement officers about IMPLICIT BIAS.  However, we are still so ENTRENCHED in our BIASES and PREJUDICES that we have a long way to go.

We can break the cycle of trauma by providing HAPPY and HEALTHY opportunities for interaction.  We should have regular fairs and events in our city and county  that are affordable and accessible to all community members.  This weekend is the 4th Avenue Street Faire.  Services are increased and transportation is free.  This is a great start.  We must continue to focus on these issues, AND we must continue to focus on having celebrations IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS.  Thanks to LIVING STREETS ALLIANCE  and the City for the work with CYCLOVIA and TUGO.   We need COMMUNITY CENTERS and a wide variety of ACTIVITIES for all ages.  GOLDEN PIN LANES.

We can break the cycle of trauma by EDUCATING OURSELVES AND OTHERS about control, ego, perspectives, cultures.  Schools and Libraries should be community centers, open 24/7 for educating members of our community.  The Downtown Library closes early on the weekends.

We can break the cycle of trauma by UPDATING POLICIES and PROVIDING MONEY to BUDGETS for funding PROGRAMS and SERVICES that are EFFECTIVE.

We can break the cycle of trauma by recognizing that EFFECTIVENESS comes before EFFICIENCY.

We can break the cycle of trauma by recognizing that WE are important, WE have power, WE are a piece of the PUZZLE of life.

Policies, Practices, and Budgets to Break the Cycle of Systemic Trauma

Economics and Businesses.  Pima County and The City of Tucson, thanks in part to the work of Old Pueblo Community Services,  have recognized that Housing First is a must for taking people out of the cycle of economic stress.  Pima County One Stop is an excellent program that provides job training and resources for individuals to become CONTRIBUTING members of our ECONOMY.  This is an important first step.  We also need FINANCIAL EDUCATION about Wants and Needs which Primavera provided (I am unsure if these same services are provided under Cenpatico).

What we can do:  Provide economic support to businesses in the community.  Work with businesses to eliminate duplicity, and also to practice ethical business practices.  Same goes for families and individuals who find themselves turning to criminal activities because there aren’t so many rules and regulations.

Housing.  It is time to recognize that “Traditional” housing is not the best for all community members.  There are reasons why some individuals may not want to have “Permanent’ housing.  Shutting down “homeless” camps happened not only in the City of Tucson but also in Yolo County.  The reasons given include:  lack of sanitation.

If that is the true reason, the fix is simple:  Provide waste management services.  Update policies so that composting, and other sustainable and natural ways of reducing what goes into the landfill is supported.  Implement policies and practices that reduce the amount of single-use plastics and materials and products that are not recyclable or reusable.  Update policies and practices to allow the use of “Waste Materials” as building materials.  Open up the bathrooms, so individuals who are homeless have somewhere to defecate, urinate, engage in healthy hygiene practices. 

This could be solved by having 24-hour libraries, schools, and community centers.  Use community members to volunteer to staff these facilities; follow the model of the  Pima County Attorney’s Office Victim Services program to staff the centers.

Cultural and Ethnicity.  In spite of the conversations and attacks about “White privilege”, a lack of understanding in the differences of culture is still prevalent.  Children bully other children for wearing “non-standard” clothing.  And our policies and practices say that bullying will not be tolerated and actually implement DRESS CODES that require individuals to CONFORM to STANDARD PRACTICES.

What we can do:  It is time that we ask ourselves:  WHERE EXACTLY DID THESE STANDARDS COME FROM?  WHY WERE THEY IMPLEMENTED?  WHY ARE THEY STILL IN PRACTICE?  Instead of requiring members of our community to ASSIMILATE, we must encourage CONVERSATION and RELATIONSHIPS  between community members.  We must teach those who are FEARFUL of losing their culture that HUMAN RIGHTS exist to prevent them from losing who they are. 

Social.  We LAUGH AT jokes about women making sandwiches.  We spout “Snitches get stitches” even when talking about the ELF ON THE SHELF who was decapitated by the family dog.  We jump on the bandwagon and DEMONIZE individuals like Roseanne Barr, and Bill Cosby.  Do you remember when MICHAEL JACKSON was held under a suspicious gaze by many members of the community for his relationships with young people?  He was not crucified like Roseanne and Bill were crucified.

What we can do:  We can stop justifying and arguing that the situation was different.  Because in the end, it boils down to the lack of INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY, and a sense of ENTITLEMENT by people using social media TOOLS to spread ugliness in our communities.

Christianity and Language  Christianity has long been used to guide many community members through life.  It is easier to GIVE SOMETHING TO someone else, than it is to go through the process of UNDERSTANDING what happened.  Understanding the process is what allows us to identify where the errors were made, and how we can take different paths.  RELIGION itself is not the problem.  RELIGIOUS TRUTH TWISTERS are the ones who come skilled with “gifts” of.

What we can do:  Tell those who judge with CHRISTIANITY that it is necessary to turn the page, or to look at the examples of the PHARISEES and the SADDUCEES.  Remind them that it is important to remember the teaching of Lucifer, the angel of darkness, and the seven deadly sins, the ten commandments.  Remind them to remember he first Commandment:  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Couple that with the teachings that the Trinity exists, and the Holy Spirit resides in each of us… everyone is a piece of god; therefore no one is above another.  Remind them of the fourth commandment.  Thou shalt not kill.  And yet, we daily kill others, without thought or remorse.

We can teach about manipulation of language and other manipulative tactics in our public schools, and to the community at large.

Gender.  One of the biggest current controversies regarding gender is RESTROOMS.

What we can do:  We can have unisex restrooms.  We can reinstate the folks who used to work in the restrooms, handing out towels, etc.  And yes, we can have separate restroom stalls for individuals who have had too much to drink, and need to vomit.

Political.  We can end corruption through following the leadership of groups like Represent US, and the work of local activists.  Of course, we must work carefully, and separate the emotional responses to create reasonable solutions.  However, we cannot silence the voices that have been silenced for so long.

What we can do: 

  • End gerrymandering.  Call it out when we see it.  
  • Accessible Calls to the Audience
  • Ranked Voting.
  • Term Limits 
  • Transparency and Accessibility to the public.
  • Equitable and Ethical Campaigning Practices. 
    • The City’s practice of doubling campaign monies in clean elections does not work.  $15k gives $15k.  $45k gives $45k.  An additional $30k given to one candidate over another.  I don’t even make $30k in a year.
    • The City puts out information on propositions, etc.  Candidates should have a write up in the voter information booklet.  This could be paid for by candidates’ campaigns.
    • Change the rule regarding donations to the campaign (e.g. Materials donated to the campaign must be included in the campaign spending limit)  The reasons for this rule is understandable, and that could be disclosed through news reports on the campaign.
    • Policies on the size and number of campaign signs.  If a campaign exceeds the number of signs, they must provide an equal number of signs for the other candidates, or they may withdraw from the race
    • Required standard statement by candidates to counter the media’s requirement of having to interview all candidates in order to run an article or story.  This would need to be coupled with a policy that dictates the necessity to provide adequate time for the candidate or candidate’s team to respond.  Contrary to what may be espoused, the world is not going to end if the general public does not know until a week later that a candidate ordered a drink at a bar, and allegedly refused to pay for said drink, without getting the candidate’s perspective, or the whole story.
  • Ethical practices by news reporters, producers, etc.

Criminal and Punitive.  Research and recommendations are resurfacing in regards to punitive consequences which may be perceived as effective in the short term, but are ineffective in the long term.  Our jails are overcrowded.  Many correction facilities lack the support to meet individuals where they are, to provide support for developing empathy.  A belief exists among community members that individuals who do not display empathy are incapable of developing empathy.

What we can do:

  • Use restorative practices in schools.  Use the model of the Teen Court in school settings.
  • Teach empathy, empowerment.
  • Educate family members of perpetrators of crime, and get the community involved, as in mentors and other support services.  
  • Encourage local businesses to adopt a family, and help the family experience happiness and health in their daily lives.
  • Stop the culture of blame.
  • Stop the culture of shame.
  • See something, say something.  Develop a sense of community responsibility.
  • Change the culture from “Snitches get stitches” to “People who grow up being bullies often become criminals who may steal from and hurt you and your family.
  • Decriminalize marijuana.  Educate the community on the concerns of the THC levels being stronger in marijuana that is produced through hydroponics, and other methods.
  • Decriminalize homelessness.
  • Include coercive control in domestic violence statutes.
  • Include animal abuse in domestic violence statutes.
  • Train business owners and employees (the entire community) in First Aid, CPR, and crisis response.

Education.  Our current education system does not support parents and teachers.  Our current education system uses processes that are deemed to be best for “traditional” families, not single parent homes, or families who work two or three jobs to make ends meet.

  • Make it easier to volunteer in schools.  One of the biggest concerns for classroom teachers is not having enough time to reach all students.  Use Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences to provide opportunities for all learners to understand and express themselves.
  • Support school-business partnerships
  • Support school-research partnerships
  • Support school-community partnerships
  • Support partnerships.
  • Train business owners and employees (the entire community) in First Aid, CPR, and crisis response.
  • Combine “Business meetings” with Fun activities.

Courts and Statutes. There are current Court practices that make it difficult to seek justice and have justice served.  These include Court fees, Judges who are inflexible; Statutes that have loopholes.

What we can do:

  • Provide more lay legal people.
  • Simplify statutes
  • Use Court investigators
  • Use Court advocates

Wisdom.  We have lost our way with wisdom.  Terms like “Nerd” “Teacher’s Pet” and other name-calling used to dismiss and demean individuals seeking wisdom have resulted in shame, and guilt.  Gaslighting is a common technique used by bullies, perpetrators of domestic violence, and even members of the community, without understanding the effects on others.

What we can do:

  • Recognize that implementing a fine on some individuals does not solve the problem; it simply exacerbates the problem.
  • Recognize that most people do the best that they can do.
  • Recognize that most people want to do the right thing, but might not know how to, or might be afraid to do so.
  • Recognize that we are human.
  • Use active listening
  • Practice empathy.
  • Think creatively and complexly.
  • Embrace humanity.
  • Embrace wisdom.



Help end systemic domestic violence.

Donate to Felicia Chew Community Projects.





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