Trauma





*Please be advised - this section contains information that may trigger some guys*

As gay men, many of us experienced a lot of trauma when we were growing up. In many ways, our day to day lives were about survival. We had to hide who we really were from the people around us. We were exposed to homophobia, had to pretend we weren’t attracted to men, and some of us may have had to give up things that we enjoyed because they were considered “feminine” or only appropriate for girls. This kind of daily stress and fear can make it difficult to feel safe, loved, and comfortable with who we are. Trauma can also occur as a result of stigma, discrimination, hate, bullying, violence, oppression, and marginalization.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, trauma can be felt by gay men who have experienced bullying and harassment:

  • LGBT are two times as likely (compared to heterosexuals) to experience post-traumatic stress disorder
  • LGBT youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than heterosexual peers
  • 77% of trans respondents in Trans Pulse had seriously considered suicide and 45% had attempted suicide
  • Trans youth and those who had experienced physical or sexual assault were found to be at greatest risk of suicide

 

Some common reactions after a traumatic experience:

  • Experiencing the event over and over, flashbacks
  • Being triggered by reminders
  • Trying to avoid activities, people, and places that remind us of the event
  • Feeling emotionally “numb” or “detached”
  • Difficulty planning, thinking about the future, focusing and concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling irritable or angry
  • Seeking out sex that reacts to our trauma or losing the desire for sex altogether
  • Using substances to ‘detach’

 

Tips for what you can do:

  1. Seek comfort and support – re-establish a routine, connect with others, alter/change your sense of helplessness
  2. Minimize media exposure
  3. Acknowledge and accept your feelings
  4. Make stress reduction your priority – relaxation and sleep are a must!

 

***If you do not feel like you can do any of these and feel overwhelmed by your experiences contact your primary doctor and inform them of your feelings***

Sources:
Canadian Mental Health Association, 2014
Trans Pulse research study: www.transpulseproject.ca
www.helpguide.org

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