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2017-11-16 / Voices

Trauma Is Real For Our People

BY VI WALN
SICANGU LAKOTA

Historical or intergenerational trauma is real among our people. Many issues our teenagers and children are dealing with today are rooted in historical or intergenerational trauma. Our lives, as well as those of our descendants, will be affected by trauma as long as we don’t make a conscious effort to heal.

People who tell you that the effects of historical or intergenerational trauma shouldn’t be talked about are in denial. We have to heal our past to understand the issues of today and work for a better future. Don’t let anyone tell you to be quiet about the trauma we’ve suffered. Again, we have to consciously face traumatic events of the past, so we can bring healing for ourselves and our unborn generations.

One glaring example of how historical or intergenerational trauma impacts us in the present is the sexual molestation and sexual assault of our children. Many children being sexually abused today are victimized by people who were also sexually molested. Children sexually molesting other children is more common than you believe. It’s been going on since before I was a child.

When a child is sexually molested they may have no idea of what is happening. They are forced by the abuser to feel what they wouldn’t usually experience until adulthood. An innocent child has no idea of what they’ve experienced as being wrong, especially if it felt good.

Many children who’ve been sexually abused tend to block out the memory of who molested them. However, the behavior children exhibit in public is generally a dead giveaway that they’ve been sexually molested. Sometimes the sexual behavior of molested children manifests in a classroom setting, other times it shows up at home.

Innocent children are often oblivious to the sexual behavior they may exhibit in public. A teacher or daycare provider might notice the sexual behavior of a child. It’s best to report any unusual behavior at school to the principal or counselor. If nothing is done at school to address the sexual behavior of children, it should be reported to law enforcement, a medical provider or social services. Keep reporting until someone investigates. In many cases, it’s quite possible the child is being regularly victimized at home.

Trauma impacts every single one of us. Even if you don’t believe you are affected, you are. Because of the horrendous experiences our grandparents survived, trauma is in our genes. We were also born with the genetic trauma of our ancestors, who were brutalized in a number of ways. This genetic trauma is passed down to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If we don’t live a healthy life, we can exacerbate the trauma effects our children suffer.

Trauma affects our entire life. Many of our people suffer from drug and alcohol addictions their whole life because of trauma. Other people are incarcerated because of genetic trauma. That is, many of our people will spend decades behind bars because genetic trauma worked in way to bring about the violent or sexual victimization of an innocent adult or child.

Please don’t let an ignorant educator, or any other uninformed adult, tell you that trauma is simply historical and doesn’t need to be addressed. Nothing is going to heal your trauma and the impact it has on your life until you face it. Healing can be found in many places, but the process has to start somewhere.

Our children will continue to be brutalized until we face and heal our trauma. It’s up to all of us to stop the sexual victimization of small children. The sexual abuse of small children is happening right now in homes located on every single Indian reservation on this continent. It will continue as long as we look away and refuse to talk about ways to heal our trauma.

It isn’t easy to face the wrongs we’ve committed. Yet, admitting that you’ve acted from a place of historical or intergenerational trauma is a start. Please don’t be afraid to face your trauma. Don’t be afraid to seek help. It’s the first step to healing.

Our children and unborn generations are depending on us to heal our historical trauma.

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