News and Tribune

March 2012 tornado coverage

March 3, 2013

The many benefits of understanding trauma

HENRYVILLE — A concern for many of the tornado survivors is the strong negative response some have to the rebuilding effort and what is perceived as a better life than before. 

While some families have yet to rebuild in Southern Indiana, others have larger and safer homes than they had before the storm. These upgrades often cause a negative reaction from those who may be the closest to those families.

Unfounded as it is, it seems to follow survivors of disasters and other traumatic experiences. People wonder why they have a better home, why they are in the public eye or why they seem to be doing better than they were before the storm. 

Dr. Meg Hornsby, licensed clinical psychologist with Personal Counseling Service in Clarksville, explained that trauma changes people in many ways. 

She said, “Trauma can lead to mental conditions that can be different for each person. There are many assumptions automatically made about how others should recover; when in fact, we all deal with trauma in different ways. We do know that the more supportive the people are around you after a trauma such as surviving being in a tornado’s direct path, the quicker they will recover.” 

Don’t think that a person has life better simply because they have upgraded their home or tangible assets. For instance, a safer and well-equipped basement will never replace the secure feeling the Gilles family felt in their first home. Nothing tangible can replace one’s physical health, their children’s feeling of security or the reality of a young child knowing how close to death his or her entire family came. 

Hornsby further said, “A person who has been through a traumatic experience such as a tornado may appear to be recovered; however, the truth may be that they may struggle with the aftermath for years while leading a seemingly normal life. People want them to simply get over it, but getting over it is not so easy. One of the most important keys to recovery is that the people in their lives unify and do not break them down.” 

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