• Nov 23, 2022

10 Things You Should Not Say to Trauma Survivors

10 Things You Should Not Say to Trauma Survivors

When someone you know has experienced a traumatic event, you want them to get better. You want to be there for them so that they will never feel alone. According to the National Council, 70% of adults in the country experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives. What trauma survivors need is the right kind of personal and professional support. You may not know what to do, but you can start by not saying these things to trauma survivors.

1. “You have to move on.”

You have to understand that the healing process for each person is different. They do not feel better right away. Not all survivors can find ways to move past their bad experiences. If all of them could do this, they would have already done so. Rather than telling them to move on, assure them that they are not alone. You just have to let them feel your presence, love, and support.

2. “I know what you are going through.”

Most people who say this do not know and understand what the trauma survivors went through. Unless you experience a similar situation and physiological setup as your friend, you should never say this. Their trauma has detrimental effects on their lives, and it could be very hurtful. The last thing they need is someone invalidating their experience because you, too, have lived it. 

3. “You are too sensitive.”

Trauma survivors are triggered by situations that could remind them of their experiences. A car crash victim may have panic attacks upon hearing a bottle explode. They are not sensitive, but their “abnormal” responses or behaviors are coping mechanisms to avoid feeling pain.

 4. “I knew someone who had a similar experience, and he easily got over it.”

Just because you saw someone with a similar experience move on does not mean that your friend should recover in the same way. Trauma and pain like the one your friend experienced should never be compared with others. Each person has different coping mechanisms, resilience, and support systems.

5. “Do you think that you will ever stop being sad?”

All of us want to be happy, including trauma survivors. If they could use magic to make their pain disappear, they would do so without hesitation. But this is not the case. Trauma survivors handle their pain differently. Sadly, many of them struggle with depression and anxiety. It may take time for them to feel better and be happy again.

6. “Let’s talk about something else.”

When your friends share their unpleasant experiences with you, this means that they trust you. They feel comfortable around you. But never dismiss their attempt to open up. In the first place, they find it hard to relive the experience, but they choose to share it, hoping that they will feel better.

7. “Maybe you need to meet new people and complain less about your life.”

This statement shows a lack of empathy and compassion for your friends. They do not need new people in their lives just to recover from their trauma. What they need are people who will stay with them through thick and thin and who will never judge them. They are also working on solving their problem.

8. “Other people have worse experiences.”

This is another statement that assumes that they are way luckier than others. They have survived the trauma, and they have people who supported them while others did not. While this may be true, when they hear these words, they feel shame and guilt. This makes them feel ungrateful and unappreciative of what they have now.

9. “Stop making a big deal about it.”

Their traumatic experience is a big deal to them, and no one should say otherwise. It is their experience, and they will continue to live with the horrors and pain for a long time. People who say are frustrated and tired of hearing their friends complaining about the same thing over and over again. If you are not emotionally available for your friend, do not force yourself. Take a step back so that you cannot say things that you might regret later.

10. “Talk to someone about it.”

You would think that there is nothing wrong with this statement. Of course, they need someone to talk to. But not all trauma survivors have to open up and share their experience with others. They have told their stories multiple times, and sometimes they get tired of reliving every moment. Instead of forcing them to talk to someone, assure them that you are always there for them. Perhaps that is what they need.

If you are a trauma survivor or know someone who needs help, visit Mindshift Psychological Services. We provide counseling and therapy for trauma survivors. We understand how difficult it is to recover from such a traumatic life event. We are here to guide and support you as we help you find your way out of your trauma.

Visit our website to learn more about us. You may also contact us at (714) 584-9700 to schedule an appointment.