The Importance of Safety
Social workers need to understand the safety issues that trauma survivors confront. Trauma overrides survivors’ inherent adaptive functions, leaving them helpless and terrified in a world that feels out of control and unsafe. Trauma experiences so sharply affect their physiological arousal, emotions, and memory that at times they have no memory of the traumatic event, but experience intense emotion; or have clear recall with no emotion. Because the emotions generated by the ordeal fall so far out of the scope of human understanding and coping, survivors tend to avoid them, thus cutting themselves off from current experiences as they build a protective shell. This dissociation can be both conscious, as individuals avoid memories of the incident; and unconscious, as they shy away from any emotional experience that triggers unwanted memories.