A trauma competition?

I have found myself today comparing my past to that of someone else. Having thoughts along the line of they suffered so much more than me. This i believe is a natural thought in many people’s minds, it is called compassion. We naturally feel distress or pity at the suffering of another, and often do anything we can to alleviate it. It is Compassion and Mercy! These are important feelings people should adopt in order to be a good person (in my opinion).

However it seems to be more popular for people to be far from compassionate, whether or not they have suffered themselves. I am seeing more and more words written by others expressing how they have been told, or read about people finding one kind of trauma significantly worse than another,and how only sufferers of a certain trauma, ritual abuse in this instance, have truly suffered badly. This in my eyes is ridiculous. The most shocking part of this is that alot of the people saying such things as “i suffered more that you because…….”. are people who are unfortunate to have experienced a trauma themselves. I fail to understand the thought process here!

The main reason i have decided to make a post about this issue is due to things i have seen written on other peoples blog posts which really struck a nerve with me, such as;

I get so swept up by the competitive nature of trauma that goes on in the trauma community online and in society as an institution.  The atmosphere around social networking sites of ‘my trauma is so bad – my therapist says it is the worst they have ever heard of’ sort of thing.  The idea that organised ritual abuse is at the ‘top of the tree’ when it comes to trauma experiences and everything else doesn’t come close and the resulting feeling of ‘you have no idea what child abuse is unless you’ve been through ritual abuse’.

Written by Bourbon of http://crazyinthecoconut.co.uk/

People have told me before that I’m lucky I didn’t get rape…like because the man was gentle I got to suffer less…

Written by http://greengrowsdark.wordpress.com/

I do not think it correct that anyone who has suffered trauma, should feel that they shouldn’t be struggling now, in later life.

Regarding the quote i took from greengrowsdarks post, how on earth can someone come along and compare rape to sexual abuse. Trauma is trauma. I fail to see how a victim of child abuse has a gentler time than a victim of rape. This is a preposterous theory. Suffering is suffering. Pain is pain. No matter how gently it was brought upon us.

It was always a well known fact that people who had suffered trauma ‘played down’ their suffering. Are the people who Bourbon has seen in online communities and social networking sites doing the opposite of this and exaggerating their suffering? I don’t believe they will be and it would be futile for me to presume so. Although it seems strange to me, that someone who has been through trauma themselves, which they consider so much worse than anyone else’s, can go against norms of ‘playing down’ their trauma and in fact emphasize it. Do these survivors of the worst kind of trauma not need to play it down?

I can safely say that i wouldn’t be happy if my therapist said my abuse was the worst she had heard of. I don’t want people to have suffered more than i, but i don’t need her to clarify how bad my trauma was. I don’t need to know how bad people think my suffering was, i just need to heal. Being the lesser or worse sufferer, in another persons opinion, is not going to help my healing so why does it matter?

Why do people need to compete to be the ‘best’ and ‘worse’ examples of trauma, dissociation and healing. What should matter is your healing, that is all! Yes someones suffering may be extremely brutal, yes they may have really had a bad time, but so may the person behind them, and each other that follows but it shouldn’t be about the trauma. Trauma is overly complex, it can only be felt and viewed from the eyes of the beholder, but we, the survivors of that complexity, are even more so. Everyone deals with suffering differently. Some people could handle very well an event with which i really struggle. We are all different, all trauma is different. Nothing is black and white.

Someone who has had a bad fall, walking along the street can then suffer from PTSD, as can someone who has suffered a hellish time of Ritual or Child Sexual Abuse. Yes the former person only had a fall, but the fact is they are suffering from a trauma, and need time to heal! Former or latter have suffered trauma. How bad that trauma was should not effect how we see their suffering.

People cannot be so competitive over something as serious and issue as abuse, trauma and suffering. All suffering is bad, and should not be experienced. I think it unfair that competition from other ‘sufferers’ can make someone feel less deserving of their healing journey and therapy. Survivors should be helping each other to heal with tips and advice to get through another day. Not discussing who suffers more or experienced worse trauma. What kind of world must we live in, where people can begin to compare how one persons trauma is worse than the next persons. It’s ludicrous.

There is maybe two different kinds of people. Those who say our abuse is less than another’s, and then people similar to myself, who i believe have compassion and say everyone else’s experience is much worse than ours. I am fortunate that i have never had someone say face to face that they believe i didn’t suffer like they did, because i fear such a comment could send my mind into a frenzy. I would not see myself lucky, i would see myself as a waste of resources because i am not worthy of them, just because my suffering was perceived by another as not that bad!

Stop the competition. Nothing in life is a competition unless someone makes it one. Work together, prosper and thrive. Help others survive and heal. Most of all, show compassion and understanding.

It is not sympathy i ask for through this post, i do not need sympathy. I just need people to know that putting people on a scale with regards to suffering is unnecessary. Trauma is trauma. Everyone is worthy of help and guidance.

You know what, i wish i didn’t know what child abuse felt like. I am glad i do not know what RA feels like, and i wish i didn’t know what rape felt like, but unfortunately, i and many others have suffered this fate. If RA is the worst trauma to experience, i can honestly say, i am going to be more surprised each time i hear of a RA survivor because hell, i don’t know how they have even gotten out of it with their life, never mind kept on going.

That is all!

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29 thoughts on “A trauma competition?

  1. I completely agree. I don’t like comparing trauma in any way…there is no way to compare pain because there is no way to truly feel what someone else is feeling! Pain is pain, and we shouldn’t have to justify our suffering, or hear others say that “at least it wasn’t THAT bad.” I don’t want my pain weighed and measured by someone else, period. I have no use comments like, “I know people who went through stuff worse than yours,” or “I’ve never heard something so bad before.” Can’t people just let us have our pain?

      • This right there. We can honor each other’s experiences without having to measure them on a scale. There are things I have no idea what it’s like experiencing, and there are things I’ve gone through that others haven’t. …And? How does that change the experience itself? It doesn’t.

        It’s also, in our experience, not so neat and tidy. I’ve had friends who were not abused in any technical sense, say things that give us pause, because our very abusive mother would never do that. (We’ve never, for example, been actively discouraged from defending ourselves against bullies. Quite the opposite, actually.)

        Likewise, in our own family, the abuse was not uniform across the board. Which of us had it worst? Hard to say. I guess it depends on your point of view. But, most imporantly: who cares?

  2. SA of any sort often, very often will be a trigger for PTSD. Even if not, it is something that is traumatic, a trauma. There is no trauma that is lighter than another, each will have to contend with their own, yes some may be able to do so more, hmm easily than others, more on that in a moment. How though, can someone say that they feel trauma more? The event that torments them is something more terrible? quite possibly. But suffering is personal. There are not degrees of suffering.

    Now, some are predestined to feel or be effected more, by a traumatic event. Two people may, be involved in the same traumatic event at the same event. One may go on to develop P.T.S.D. from this event, the other may not. It does not mean one person is weaker, it does not mean one person is less empathic, the short answer is just a part of the brain that is different for each person.

    Hence, some may “recover” from something that others struggle with. Now before you flair up, I am not saying some events, some torments are so terrible that someone would not be effected. I am not saying anyone is weak when they are tormented. I am not saying anything like this, only that some people are more vulnerable to being more traumatized. There is a lot to this too, what can make this so.

    Trauma is trauma, it torments one. It festers and grows. The mind struggles to contend with it, often burying and hiding the memories but the struggles continue. The mind tries to protect us.

    What is the worst trauma to deal with? The one each person has, the memories, the torments, the anxiety, the fear, the night terrors, the insomnia and more. the unfairness that something that was not chosen, becomes your torment. Something that will plague you for something that WAS NOT YOUR FAULT, NOT YOUR CHOICE. This is the worst trauma to contend with. So yes, it is not a competition.

    I am sorry you have suffered in the past, I am sorry you suffer now too. I am sorry that anyone suffers. But we can all group together to help each other, to allow the suffering we feel, to fade. To help one another. Help is not a competition.

  3. Hey
    this was a really well written post…you are so compassionate in your writing. Trauma is trauma, and pain is pain. It doesnt matter whose was worse. Sometimes I think some of these so called therapists enable their clients to stay stuck in their abuse. I’d hate it if our therapist said something like “your trauma is the worst I’ve ever seen” too! It would make us so uncomfortable! Safe hugs! XX

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