Have you ever experienced the same nightmare over and over again? Perhaps for a week or even a few, you dreaded going to sleep because as soon as you closed your eyes, you knew you would be trapped in the hauntingly dark forest with no way out. If you’ve ever experienced a recurring nightmare, you know very well that your rough night of sleep–or the complete lack of–can quickly begin to affect all areas of your life. You may have been irritable with your family, had trouble staying awake at work, and overall just disengaged with life.
Now, imagine having that nightmare be your reality. The hauntingly dark forest with no way out isn’t a figment of your dream state, but it’s actually the house you live in where your mother is abused everyday. And you are a small child who can’t even begin to verbalize what’s happening around you and to you.
This is what most, if not all, of the children who live in the homes we partner with have experienced at one time or another. Many children have what is called complex trauma. Complex trauma is the recurrence of many single traumas and can also be described by the following:
- is usually interpersonal i.e. occurs between people
- involves ‘being or feeling’ trapped
- is often planned, extreme, ongoing and/or repeated
- often has more severe, persistent and cumulative impacts
- involves challenges with shame, trust, self-esteem, identity and regulating emotions.*
For many children, seeing chaos and abuse in the home starts before many can even speak. One of the unique things about complex trauma is that it often is accompanied by the feeling of being “trapped.” Children can experience this when they are witnessing others being abused and are unable to do anything to stop it. This feeling of being trapped can follow them for years and the trauma can continue to replay in their heads.
Trauma has the ability to do more than just be a memory for a child. Trauma can affect how a child develops mentally, emotionally, and physically.
So how do we help these children fight this battle that is much bigger than themselves? We here at The Boaz Project take trauma very seriously. Part of our partnerships with houseparents around the globe involves discussions around trauma competent care. These discussions allow for deeper understanding of the hurt and difficulties that the children in their care are experiencing.
Having these adults who are trust-worthy in their lives is the first step. Having their caregivers understand a little more about the nightmares they have lived and how it has impacted them is the next step. Over time, through much nurturing, safe boundary setting, open communication, and a tool box of other skills these children can begin to heal.
Your support of The Boaz Project offers these wounded children around the globe food, shelter, education, and medical attention. But it also provides an atmosphere where they can be understood and emotionally supported and where their hearts can mend.
“Doings small things with great love”,
The Boaz Project, Inc.