Circle of healing teaches students how to recognize trauma

Perla Lara

Knowing that trauma is something you work on at your own pace whenever you’re ready, was the main message of the Thursday, March 9 Women’s History Month: Healing circle, lecture.

Long Beach Trauma Recovery Center Marriage Family Therapist Intern Norma Vargas said, “[People] hear the word ‘trauma’ thrown around but they’re not really sure where it comes from, or what it’s like or what it feels like. It’s a scary word so a lot of people don’t like to acknowledge it or can’t acknowledge it.”

She was the presenter for the lecture, which had eight students in attendance.

The message Vargas wants to share with students especially those who did not attend the presentation is, “Trauma is a normal reaction to something that is an abnormal event and all of us go through some level of trauma at some point and acknowledge it at the time that you’re ready.”

For the eight students that did attend, Vargas gave a clear presentation that covered what trauma is, the physiological reactions to trauma and the three main causes of trauma; sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking, all in a little over an hour power point presentation.

The presentation began with an exercise having those in attendance close their eyes and recall a time when they felt stress at school. She wanted the attendees to understand to some degree what trauma feels like.

She then compared trauma to a bear chasing after someone, using the analogy that just like the bear trauma is not something easily confronted and a person’s first instinct being to do whatever it takes to survive.

Psychology Major Jocelyn Rivera thought the presentation brought awareness to what a person goes through after a traumatic event and how to become aware of it.

As a psychology major, Rivera has studied the concepts Vargas presented but found the presentation clarified a lot of key points and showed surprising statistics on the percentages of reported cases of male sexual assaults.

She said “It went more in depth with it. It was definitely a good presentation.”

One of the statistics Vargas presented was “one in five women and one in 71 men have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.”

She said one of the reasons for the difference in numbers is that men are less likely to report a sexual assault.

That is especially troubling in terms of trauma because if the assault is not reported then the trauma a person experiences also cannot be reported.

Nursing major, Javier Valdovinos said he learned how to cope with certain situations and there were a lot of statistics he was not aware of. “It was pretty eye opening, I would recommend [this lecture] for someone who is dealing with a traumatic [event] or stress. It will help [someone] evolve as a person it can help with the problems at home.”

Zoology major Maurice Ward said he was surprised by the statistics presented.

Ward said, “The presentation was very on point for me, the healing helped me calm my nerves about what’s going to happen today and get school out of my head.”

He encourages other students to attend a similar presentation because “It’s a message someone needs to hear or know it’s out there.”

Likewise, Vargas said, “Hold on to bits and pieces of information that come your way; and use it whenever you’re ready.”

Director of Diversity, Compliance and Title IX Coordinator Valyncia Raphael was responsible for bringing the presentation to the college.

She said she works with people who experience different types of trauma including everyday violence and fear because of politics.

“I wanted to bring something that changes the narrative and gives us a space to say ‘ok how do we move forward’ as oppose to talking about all the problems that we see day to day.”

She also wanted to promote healing, talk about trauma and how we move on from it.

The next Healing Circle presentation will be on March 30, from 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in SS 137.

Norma Vargas Healing circle 2 900x600.jpg
Marriage Family Therapist Intern Norma Vargas (center) giving the Thursday, March 9 Women’s History Month: Healing circle presentation. The event had eight students in attendance however, only two actively participated with comments during the presentation.