Frontline Initiative Trauma-Informed Care

I need Trauma-Informed Care and Support

I have long had goals and dreams. It is sometimes hard for me to believe but I have been able to overcome my difficult childhood and become a husband, a taxpayer, and a homeowner. I continue to use services and supports but they do not dictate who I am. I am in charge of my own life.

Let me tell you more. I was born with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Most of my family did not understand this—they treated me badly both emotionally and physically. I was abused from the time I was little to my late teens. School was better than home but only a little. I had heroes along the way—my grandma, some teachers, and my high school principal—but generally, I struggled. I lived in many homes back then—some of them “group homes.” I was in family court more than once; judges were sympathetic but limited in how they could support me.

My behavior was uneven. I could be charming and get along but other times I was high-strung and anxious. I heard the “R word” hundreds of times, usually as a slur. My response to abuse or bullying was rarely healthy. I would lash out, run, withdraw, hit. I rarely felt safe.

In my twenties, things got better. I got connected to an agency that provided safe housing and supports. I had an advocate that helped me do a person-centered plan. I began to recruit, interview, and hire my own disability support providers. I got some distance from family and I made better decisions when things weren’t going well. Some changes took a long time but they began to add up. Those individuals who supported me well generally stayed on. Others didn’t last a month.

I recently heard the term “trauma-informed care.” I am not sure what it means but I think I need it. I need supporters who understand me and listen to me. Supporters who let me take risks. Supporters who have diversified thinking— they can look at more than one way to solve a problem and can accept different approaches to address issues. Supporters who respond to my daily ups and downs. Supporters who know about how my disabilities impact my life. Most of all, supporters who accept me for who I am.

If you read the rest of this issue, I think you will be a better supporter—it will be great if you understand trauma and traumainformed care.