Students seeking support for sexual assault can also visit the Barnard/Columbia Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center website.
The devastating tragedy in New York and Washington has enormous human, moral, political, and historical implications--and it also impacts personally the lives of all of us who are living through it. Many of us will experience strong emotional reactions to this traumatic event over the days, weeks, and months to come. The Furman Counseling Center would like to offer you some information about the variety of ways that people can respond to such tragedies. Understanding normal responses to abnormal situations can help you to better take care of yourself and others.
Common responses to traumatic events include:
First, recognize that you have been exposed to a traumatic event and that it is bound to affect you in some way. Remember that there is no right or wrong way t think or feel about the traumatic event, and that any reaction you have it valid.
Be accepting of your own feelings and reactions, but understand that others around you may react to and cope with this event in ways that are very different from yours. You may feel that others are being inappropriately light-hearted or conversely, are being more somber than n you feel yourself. As much as possible, try not to be judgmental. All of us will find slightly different ways to deal wit this crisis
Talking to others about the event can be very helpful. Telling family or friends about your experience of the event and your feelings about it can be an important part of the recovery process.
Be patient with yourself as you resume the activities and tasks that are part of your everyday life. It may be difficult or impossible to plunge back into your schedule immediately; on the other hand, you may feel guilty if you do. Going on with your life in no way represent a a lack of respect for the gravity of the tragedy. in fact, it is only through people getting on with their lives that we can take care of each other and address the situations that caused and resulted from the disaster.
Be aware of how much information about the event you are able to take n. For some of us, having as much information as possible helps us cope; however, if you reach a point at which you feel overwhelmed by the stories and pictures in the media, you should avoid exposing yourself to them for a while.
Give help to others. The process of coming together to help each other can be profoundly healing for everyone involved, whether it is participating in organized assistance programs of just being a good listener to a friend.
In the hours and days following such tragedies, the initial shock begins to wear off, and other feelings may emerge, along with various psychological reactions that are common to people who have experienced a traumatic event. these psychological reactions often appear weeks or months after the event, and can manifest physically, cognitively, or emotionally.
Common physical reactions:
Common cognitive reactions:
Common emotional reactions:
These reactions are painful, but as mentioned, are parts of the normal process of responding to an overwhelming event. There are some ways to promote emotional healing in yourself and in others.
Some people have an intense and prolonged reaction to traumatic events called post-traumatic stress. Post-traumatic stress can significantly interfere with your functioning, and may not become apparent until months after a traumatic event. It is characterized by symptoms that include
If you, or another student you know, is experiencing intense or prolonged reactions to this (or any) traumatic event, or if you'd just like another place to talk, please remember that the Furman Counseling Center offers confidential help and support, both in individual and group settings. To make an appointment, or to get more information, just stop by the first floor of Hewitt Hall, or call 854-2092.
To find out more, see our list of Sexual Assualt Self-Help Guides and Books