DR. DAVID READ JOHNSON
PhD, Director, Post Traumatic Stress Center, LLC
Homecoming Trauma is the experience of being blamed, criticized, or denigrated when one reports a traumatic event to family, friends, healthcare workers, police, the press, or other authorities.
The traumatic event is of course extremely important in the development of post traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses, but it is not commonly understood how important Homecoming Trauma is as well. The essential idea is that the victim does not expect their perpetrator to be sympathetic or helpful, but does expect loved ones and normal society to support her/him. When this expectation is dashed, as it was so cruelly in Donna's case, the victim's world can be completely shattered. What holds them up in the face of the crime is the hope or knowledge that what is happening is wrong and that the world, once it finds out, will support them. When that world turns its back on you, even blames you, hope falls into the abyss. Victims who have received very negative receptions by their families or authorities report feeling extremely insecure, more frightened, and very vulnerable, leading to higher levels of depression, anxiety, social isolation, and disability. Many victims of sexual abuse and assault, like Vietnam veterans, have received negative receptions, and have suffered intensely as a result. What is remarkable about Donna, is that she did not give in when accused of lying about her assault; she continued to fight with the help of her family, and her assailant was found with the help of a police chief who believed her.
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