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(en) Czech, afed.cz: Emotional first aid - The traumatic consequences of police (and other) violence and how to absorb it. [machine translation]
Sat, 7 Jul 2018 10:36:48 +0300
A small guide for political activists and activists focused on how to cope with traumatic
experiences before, during and after action ---- What's going on? ---- Those who are
politically active can get into situations where they, their friends or loved ones are
exposed to repressive violence. When we experience police violence, clashes with neo-Nazis
or persecution by secret services, we can take away the consequences of anxiety, long-term
stress and internal anxiety, and the tendency to withdraw from our activities into
isolation. The consequences of such experiences can affect us long after the visible
wounds disappear. ---- Not every experience of violence causes trauma. Long-term
consequences are more likely to involve a variety of different factors. Everyone cope with
violence in their own way - human responses and tolerable boundaries are as different as
nature. That is why we have to respect the fact that each of us needs what he has lived,
to cope differently and to support one another and to focus on individual needs.
If this is not the case - for example, because emotions and fear in our group are taboos -
people who are hard on their experience often leave their former political and social
circles in passivity.
One of the goals of violence and repression is to scare people and make them feel helpless
against the power of the state. To learn fear, anxiety, stress and other negative emotions
should be an integral part of our personal and political radical identity.
Theoretically, trauma can cause any difficult situation in which one feels lonely and
without help. Lack of help from friends and comrades can then have a worse impact than the
traumatic experience itself.
The consequences of repression - even the psychic - are not just personal matters of the
individual. They touch us all. What we need is to be truly solid and supportive of one
Possible responses to challenging situations
Re-use of experience
Inability to stop thinking about thoughts, insidious images and thoughts, "flashbacks"
(the feeling that you are literally experiencing the same again), nightmares.
Increased consumption of alcohol (or other drugs), pulling away and isolation from friends
and family, avoiding a common meeting and anything that reminds of a happening, trying to
distance yourself from everything that has happened. Changes in eating habits, sleep and
sexual behavior, memory loss.
Insomnia, restlessness, mood swings, angry outbursts, concentration problems,
irritability, uncontrollable crying, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, muscle tension,
anxiety, extreme alertness.
Other possible reactions
panic attacks, feelings of guilt and shame, accusations of self
the inability to find joy in life, the feelings of loneliness and abandonment, the feeling
of numbness, the inability to make decisions
a sudden skepticism about political engagement and common experiences
feeling a senseless life
still fresh memories of what happened; the feeling that it will last forever and the
inability to plan for the future
Sometimes these reactions are delayed and can only occur after weeks (and sometimes even
years) of the event. However, we can learn how to work with them and help each other. One
of the goals of emotional help is to incorporate a difficult experience into life - and
accept that it can change man, as well as that what has happened can not be tainted. It is
essential that we understand and remember that each person experiences this process
What you can do against the trauma as a group
BEFORE the event, talk about what you are about to do and tell yourself what your limits
are. Decide who will support you in case of unexpected circumstances. Just figure out who
will escort you if you have to leave the event. Organize yourself in affinity groups and
AFTER the event, find time to discuss what happened. Provide space for everyone who has
participated in the event and wants to talk about it. Let everyone talk about where they
were, what they were doing, see what they think and how they feel about it. Thanks to
this, we are all better understood by experienced events.
Support may not only require injuries but also support people. They should also be aware
of their limits and that they may need support.
How to support your friend
Do not wait for the help to come - try to be active and make it clear that you are and
will be for him.
Days after a stressful situation are the best opportunity to talk and listen. Later many
people will not talk about things - and those who have suffered deeper trauma will often
You may not be sure what to do to support your friend. If you want to better understand
why it responds in some way, read more about trauma. In any case, it is very helpful that
you are close and behave as usual without regretting or pushing the person concerned. Try
to accept his reactions and make sure he feels safe and relaxed.
Talking about what has happened helps to absorb it. Encourage your friend to gently tell
you what he felt, what he thought, what he had seen and experienced.
Be a good listener. Too often we tend to try to give advice instead of concentrating on
When a person feels under pressure and is forced to talk about something, it often leads
them to withdraw and move away.
Keep in mind that people can work perfectly well during the event and that the response to
the traumatic experience is delayed.
When a person experiences a painful experience, daily activities such as cooking, cleaning
or shopping can be very challenging. Help with them is very supportive, but it is
important that it is not intrusive and does not bother the person concerned into privacy
Try not to be personally involved when your friend is irritable and distraught - and,
above all, do not stop with his support. These are common reactions.
Be patient. All you have to do when you tell someone "you should get out of it and get
up," is that you're going to steal one another.
Providing emotional support can be challenging. Make sure you do not overwhelm your
strength and that you care about yourself. Be open to your friends and talk to them about
how you are doing.
What you can do for yourself
Be aware that your reactions are normal and that it is absolutely okay to say your
support. Be patient with yourself, stay on time, and do not despise for what you feel.
Just as some body wounds heal for a while, even the emotional does not disappear right
away. It can be a challenging period, but it will go.
Immediately after challenging experience, find a place where you feel safe and relaxed.
Try to relax, rest and let others take care of you.
Physical motion helps to get rid of stress. Walks, jogging and dancing can be more relaxed
than sitting at home.
Try not to insulate. Go for friends you trust.
A very common response to trauma is the feeling that others do much better. Remember that
everyone manages stress differently and makes his emotions different.
The common reaction is also to blame yourself for what has happened. Remember that the
traumatic experience is not your fault - they are blamed by those who have hurt you.
How strongly you respond may depend on previous traumas.
It is not a weakness after the injury (whether physical or psychological) that you feel pain.
Friends and family may not know how to help you. If you do not like how they behave, talk
to them about them and ask them what you need.
Having good tea or food can be relaxing, just like a massage or a hot tub. Try to figure
out what's helping you and get it done. Keep in mind that alcohol and other drugs may
adversely affect recovery in the long run, even if they will be forgotten in the short term.
In order to better understand what is happening to you, read more text about trauma and
recovery from it.
Z originálu A small reader for dealing with violent experiences / Out of Action: Emotional
First Aid ( https://outofaction.blackblogs.org/?page_id=112 ) preložila Lacerta Nigra
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