Have you been a victim who survived a life-threatening incident? Here are some resources that may help, as recommended by a survivor shot during a workplace domestic violence mass shooting that happened in the Milwaukee area. Subjects include:
- finding the right crisis counselor
- integrative healing resources (yoga, body work, etc.)
- PTSD treatment
- Self care
- The Rebels Project – for survivors of shooting incidents
- How to pay for expenses – crime victim compensation, establishing Go Fund Me accounts
COPING WITH THE AFTERMATH LONG TERM
The first consideration is finding a counselor who is informed about trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
A link to specialists in Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be found here:
Please choose your therapist carefully. For more helpful information, please see our page on Counseling. A guide to how to pick the best therapist for you may help. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freudian-sip/201102/how-find-the-best-therapist-you
If you or someone you know needs help coping, call the 24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. The free, confidential phone call will connect you with crisis counselors around the United States who are trained to help.
The National Center for PTSD offers videos, current research, and several other educational resources. Website: www.ptsd.va.gov
For help finding personal healing in the Milwaukee area, consider:
We are a non-profit organization offering natural healing and wellness services in Spanish and English on a sliding fee scale.
Located in Walker’s Point on Milwaukee’s south side, CORE/El Centro serves adults and children of all income levels. We offer integrative healing services such as acupuncture, massage therapy and body work; gardening and nutrition programs; children’s wellness; social change through community health advocacy; and movement classes. Our goal is to inspire individuals, families and communities to achieve optimal health.
Trauma and Healing
Since CORE/El Centro opened in 2002 we have worked with a number of survivors of physical, sexual and emotional trauma. What we have seen is that trauma wreaks havoc on an individual’s body and psyche. The human body is like a road map. Every traumatic experience an individual has is embossed into the tissues and cells of the individual which may cause physical, emotional and spiritual challenges. To heal from trauma the human body needs to release the experience physically and emotionally.
The Trauma and Healing Program has gained statewide attention because it:
- Offers survivors of all races, income levels, and religious traditions a wholistic approach to healing by providing natural healing therapies and wholistic exercise classes.
- Works collaboratively with other disciplines (traditional talk therapy, support groups, art therapy, etc) to meet the needs of the whole person.
- Accelerates the healing process by bringing deep traumatic experiences to the forefront so the survivor can deal with the pain and move into a space of recovery.
Please donate now to help support our Trauma and Healing Program.
“At 26 I was experiencing debilitating fibromyalgia, post traumatic stress, and depression as a result of being sexually abused by my father. I came to CORE/El Centro first for acupuncture, which helped stabilize me emotionally. Massage then helped me to manage my pain and experience mental and emotional well-being. I now feel like a functioning human being, able to care for myself and my 3 year old daughter and I can’t imagine where I would be without CORE/El Centro and The Healing Center.”
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment
If you have gone through a traumatic event, it is normal to feel many emotions. These include distress, fear, helplessness, guilt, shame and anger. You may start to feel better after days or weeks. Sometimes, however, these feelings don’t go away. If the symptoms last for more than a month, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
After the end of a traumatic event, if these normal experiences do not slowly improve, if they worsen with time, or if they cause difficulties in relationships or work, it is helpful to find professional support. People considering therapy should select a trained mental health professional who is knowledgeable about trauma.
Feel Better After Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
If you are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, know that it can be treated successfully. Although your memories won’t go away, you can learn how to manage your response to these memories and the feelings they bring up. You can also reduce the number and strength of your reactions. The following information may be helpful to you.
Treatment for PTSD
It may seem painful to face the trauma you went through. Doing so with the help of a mental health professional can help decrease distress. There are different types of therapy that have proven to be effective at reducing distress. Today, mental health professionals use a variety of treatment methods.
To schedule an appointment with a mental health provider trained in helping people who experienced trauma, speak with your healthcare provider or call the Trauma Center at 414-805-8623.
Recovering from PTSD is an ongoing process. There are healthy steps you can take to help you recover and stay well. Discover which ones help you feel better and add them to your life.
Connect with friends and family. It’s easy to feel alone when you’ve been through a trauma and are not feeling well. But isolation can make you feel worse. Talking to your friends and family can help you get the support you need. Studies show that having meaningful social and family connections in your life can have a positive impact on your health and healing.
Relax. Each person has his or her own ways to relax. They may include listening to soothing music, reading a book or taking a walk. You can also relax by deep breathing, yoga, meditation or massage therapy. Avoid using drugs, alcohol or smoking to relax.
Exercise. Exercise relieves your tense muscles, improves your mood and sleep, and boosts your energy and strength. Research shows that exercise can also ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Get enough rest. Getting enough sleep helps you cope with your problems better, lowers your risk for illness and helps you recover from the stresses of the day. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts can be a great way to work through issues. Researchers have found that writing about painful events can reduce stress and improve health.
Refrain from taking drugs and alcohol. Although using drugs and alcohol may seem to help you cope, they can make your symptoms worse, delay your treatment and recovery, and cause abuse or addiction problems.
Limit caffeine. Caffeine can often trigger anxiety and may also disturb your sleep.
Limit TV watching. If watching the news or other programs bothers you, limit the amount of time you watch. Try not to listen to disturbing news before going to sleep. It might keep you from falling asleep right away.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something horrible and scary that you see or that happens to you. During this type of event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening.
Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop PTSD. These events can include:
- Military sexual trauma.
- Terrorist attacks.
- Physical violence.
- Sexual violence, such as rape.
- Serious accidents, such as a car wreck.
- Natural disasters, such as a fire, tornado, flood, or earthquake.
After the event you might find that you are thinking a lot about what happened, avoiding reminders about the event, and thinking negative thoughts about yourself and the world.
What are the symptoms?
After going through a traumatic event, you may:
- Feel upset by things that remind you of what happened.
- Have nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event. You may feel like it’s happening all over again.
- Avoid places or things that remind you of what happened.
- Often feel bad about yourself and the world.
- Feel numb or lose interest in things you used to care about.
- Feel that you are always in danger.
- Feel anxious, jittery, or irritated.
- Have trouble sleeping or keeping your mind on one thing.
PTSD symptoms can change your behavior and how you live your life. You may pull away from other people, work all the time, or use drugs or alcohol. You may find it hard to be in relationships, and you may have problems with your spouse and family. You may become depressed. Some people with PTSD also have panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of fear or worry that something bad is about to happen.
Children can have PTSD too. They may have the symptoms above and symptoms that depend on how old they are. As children get older their symptoms are more like those of adults.
- Young children may become upset if their parents are not close by. Or children may have trouble sleeping or suddenly have trouble with toilet training or going to the bathroom.
- Children who are in the first few years of elementary school (ages 6 to 9) may act out the trauma through play, drawings, or stories. They may complain of physical problems or become more irritable or aggressive. They also may develop fears and anxiety that don’t seem to be caused by the traumatic event.
What can you do if you think you have PTSD?
If you think you have PTSD:
- Talk to your family doctor.
- Talk to a mental health professional, such as a therapist.
- If you’re a veteran, contact your local VA hospital or Vet Center.
- Talk to a close friend or family member. He or she may be able to support you and find you help.
- Talk to a religious leader.
- Fill out this form (What is a PDF document?) and take it with you to the doctor.
If you have thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else, call 911, 1-800-273-TALK (suicide hotline), or go to a hospital emergency room.
How does PTSD develop?
All people with PTSD have personally experienced—or have experienced through others—a traumatic event that caused them to fear for their lives, see horrible things, and feel helpless. Strong emotions caused by the event create changes in the brain that may result in PTSD.footnote 3
Many people who go through a traumatic event don’t get PTSD. It isn’t clear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t. How likely you are to get PTSD depends on many things. These include:
- How intense the trauma was.
- If you lost a loved one or were hurt.
- How close you were to the event.
- How strong your reaction was.
- How much you felt in control of events.
- How much help and support you got after the event.
PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. About half of people who develop PTSD get better at some time. But other people who develop PTSD always will have some symptoms.footnote 4
If you have symptoms of PTSD, counseling can help you cope. Your symptoms don’t have to interfere with your everyday activities, work, and relationships. It is never too late to get professional help or other forms of support that can help you manage the symptoms of PTSD.
Reminders and anniversaries of the event can make symptoms worse.
How is PTSD treated?
- Counseling, which can help you understand your thoughts and learn ways to cope with your feelings. This can help you feel more in control and get you back to the activities in your life. A type of counseling called cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be the most effective form of counseling for PTSD.footnote 1, footnote 2
- Antidepressant medicines, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These can help you feel less sad and worried. SSRIs include fluoxetine (such as Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft).
You may need to try different types of treatment before finding the one that helps you. Your doctor will help you with this. These treatments may include other types of medicines and other forms of counseling, such as group counseling. If you have other problems along with PTSD, such as overuse of alcohol or drugs, you may need treatment for those also.
Treatment can help you feel more in control of your emotions, have fewer symptoms, and enjoy life again.
The Rebels Project
An Open Letter to Survivors
The Rebels Project was formed by Columbine survivors in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting to help provide support from people who had experienced a similar trauma. Since conception, we have reached out to survivors from across the country.
Our members offer varied unique experiences and can relate to each other in a way that is invaluable to the ongoing healing process. Here are some of our survivors:
Aurora theater shooting
Azana Spa shooting in Wisconsin
Heath High School
Chardon High School
Washington Navy Yard
New Life Church (Colorado Springs, CO)
Umpqua Community College
Sparks Middle School
Renown Hospital shooting
Cokeville Elementary Hostage and Bombing
Accent Signage shooting
Tucson, AZ shooting
How to Pay for Expenses
Many families need assistance with unanticipated expenses following the loss of a loved one, or a homicide attempt. The first resource to consider would be Wisconsin Crime Victim Compensation.
Crime Victim Compensation Program – Compensation for Your Financial Losses
Victims of violent crime and family or household members of deceased victims may have significant out-of-pocket expenses through no fault of their own. Crime Victim Compensation (CVC) helps pay for unreimbursed eligible expenses that result from the crime.
PDF Download: Crime Victim Comp Brochure Application
Fill out the application online: Crime Victim Compensation Online Application
Another resource turned to by families during times of need is setting up a
Go Fund Me account. Please be aware that there is a 5% per contribution fee.
How to Set Up a Go Fund Me Account
Create Your Fundraising Campaign
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Easily Accept Donations
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Search your app store for ‘gofundme’ to manage your campaign from the GoFundMe Mobile App.