Traumatizing Images of BIPOC Going Viral: How To Cope With The Re-traumatization By: Jessica Bullock, LCMHC, (LPC) LCADC, CCS
By Jessica Bullock | Mar 1, 2022
This is infuriating and triggering. We are not in 1921 anymore, yet we are still facing the same issues.
These are just a few names of individuals whose attacks have caught national attention. These viral videos have re-traumatized and caused increased fear and anxiety among African Americans in the U.S.
“Escaping the imagery can be nearly impossible, especially as online users post commentary and news updates. For some, it can merely be a nuisance. But research suggests that for people of color, frequent exposure to the shootings of black people can have long-term mental health effects. ”- Kenya Downs
As African American men or women, some of us feel the need to walk around with phones and recording devices to prove our innocence. How overwhelming it is for us to think our life is on the line every time we may be pulled over by the police, or are ‘misunderstood’. For every video, we see that goes viral there are 10 more. PTSD, also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has increased greatly through our communities. How do we heal while images continue (and will continue) to circulate in the world?
Here are three ways in which we can cope with our distressing thoughts surrounding Traumatizing viral issues:
1. DISCUSS YOUR STRUGGLE: Having a support network to discuss your challenges with can increase your sense of security. That may look like a) jumping on a group call with family members or colleagues b) Talking to your closest friends c)joining/hosting conversations within your communities (spiritual, educational, etc.)
2. PARTICIPATE IN SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVITIES. During this difficult time uprising of violence against African Americans went viral, social justice activities have increased. Whether you write a letter to a local official, or join a conversation on how change can occur, feeling as if you are helping can improve your mental health. Helping with social justice activities can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. (rtor.org).
3. DO THE WORK TO HEAL YOUR TRAUMA IN THERAPY. Many people have discussed how viral images have triggered emotions from other situations in their lives. That is how trauma works. When our brains cannot protect us and there is a loss of control over what we see and hear, we are forced to deal with trauma before we are ready. This can lead to other issues, like sleep challenges, unpleasant physical responses, and emotional dysregulation. If you or a loved one require a therapist, feel free to visit our website, www.cliniciansofcolor.org for more resources and supportive links.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Since 2010, Jessica is the CEO and Founder of BE WELL COUNSELING & CONSULTING (www.bewellcc.org), where she and her team have served thousands of families and individuals. She is passionate about bringing education and research that highlight BIPOC communities. Jessica also enjoys working as a consultant for counseling centers and churches, serves as a board member on several nonprofit organizations, and teaches. She graduated with her second Master’s Degree at Seton Hall University and is currently working on her Ph. D. in Counselor Education and Supervision.