An Open Letter: ANDRUS Stands with Orlando
An Open Letter
ANDRUS Stands with Orlando:
Supporting the LGBT Community, Healing Orlando and
Talking to Children about Trauma
In lieu of the horrific tragedy that took place early Sunday morning, we are all in a state of shock. A community of peaceful and innocent individuals were targeted and attacked. It is vital for all of us to stand in support of Orlando and the LGBT communities to help in whatever way we can. All of us at ANDRUS would like to express our deepest condolences to the victims, their friends and families and all affected by the attacks in Orlando.
In the wake of a community tragedy like this, we must take the universal precaution of knowing how to support each other and our loved ones through this time. It is not necessarily the event itself, but the inability to cope that defines something as traumatic. People may not need professional help, but they must get the support they need from within their own communities. Each of us needs to know what to look for in order to determine if the people around us need support. There are some easy symptoms to recognize to determine whether a loved one needs treatment. We can respond and take action by building care provisions for everyone affected in a simple and surprisingly easy way – through strengthening relationships with people we care about and making sure to reach out to each other with kindness and caring.
We must also remember that members of oppressed communities are already vulnerable to the impact of trauma. This terror attack took place within in an already polarized political context — thus making the impact on individual LGBT community members potentially even greater. The epidemic of adverse childhood experiences makes many adults in all of our communities vulnerable to the impact of a trauma like this one. This applies to all of us: the survivors, first responders, loved ones of those killed or injured, LGBT people around the country and their children and many others.
Many individuals have been directly affected by this event and exposure to this tragedy may trigger symptoms from earlier traumas. Therefore, support is essential. Florida Governor Rick Scott rightfully declared Orlando and Orange County to be in a State of Emergency. Sarah Yanosy, LCSW, Director, ANDRUS Sanctuary Institute, an international trauma institute specializing in the trauma-responsive Sanctuary Model, traveled to Orlando on Monday to serve as a support to community leaders and organizations in the area. We are grateful to have the opportunity to be there for the region during this crisis.
In addition to helping the communities, our focus turns towards children and helping them process such tragedy and horror. It is one of the hardest things we do as parents, as friends and as neighbors. The Sanctuary Model helps us to have a framework for thinking about and processing a traumatic event. We believe that community is the antidote to trauma. Additionally, our use of the SELF model to help process trauma and loss is powerful. SELF stands for Safety-safety among people, with people, and with yourself; Emotions – expressing them but not letting them rule your actions Loss – knowing that processing, holding, and honoring loss is essential to healing and Future – making sure to focus on a vision for the future to create hope and possibility.
Here are some basic tenets to remember when talking to children about a tragedy such as the murders in Orlando:
- Find out what they know already.
- Find out what questions they have, and answer them as simply and honestly as you can. If The older the child is developmentally, the more details and information they’ll ask you to give them. But one of the guidelines is to answer their questions rather than inundating them with everything you know about the traumatic event.
- Listen carefully with the idea of talking half as much as you listen.
- Give them the facts, but don’t go into gory details, especially if they’re details that upset you when you heard about them.
- Process your feelings with an adult, not your child. BUT, you can be honest about how this has affected you.
- Talk about the larger issues if they raise them – violence, gun control, religious extremism, homophobia, and so on – but remember this is a child who needs to feel safe and protected.
- Most importantly, reassure them that you will do everything possible to keep them safe. Reassure them about the efforts being made to keep the community safe as well.
- Let them know you’re there to talk about anything they need, whenever they need to. Keeping that non-judgmental stance and lines of communication open are some of the best ways to protect your kids.
- Talk about what IS in their power, and your power, to do to support the families, the community and each other.
- Tell them the facts, give them access to the print media, but please limit the television or you tube. Visual images, especially ones repeated, have a much stronger impact and do not help them understand the facts so much as expose them to more stress and imagery they won’t be able to easily forget.
Our thoughts are with Orlando and those impacted by this tragic incident.
Bryan R. Murphy
President and Chief Executive Officer
For more information, please contact Peter Sobel, ANDRUS Media Relations Manager,
at (914) 965-3700 x1319