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Blue skies for abuse survivors

Blue Knot Day, organised by Blue Knot Foundation, is a national awareness day on October 28 showing support for adult survivors of complex trauma. Complex trauma is the exposure to repeated interpersonal trauma commonly from childhood but also adulthood with impacts that are cumulative.

Launched in 2009, this year will be the 10th anniversary of Blue Knot Day. The theme for Blue Knot Day 2019 is: Untangle the knot of complex trauma – empowerment, recovery and resilience.

The tangled knot in the Blue Knot logo symbolises the complexity of complex trauma, with blue representing the colour of the sky and a clear blue sky providing the space for new possibilities.

Blue Knot Foundation: The National Centre for Complex Trauma is Australia’s leading national for-purpose organisation working to improve the lives of adults impacted by complex trauma. The foundation works to raise awareness and understanding of the long-term impacts of complex trauma, to provide counselling and support to survivors and their loved ones, to educate the community, train professionals and offer services to empower recovery and build resilience.

Complex trauma
More than one in four Australians have experienced complex trauma – repeated ongoing interpersonal trauma and abuse, often from childhood, as an adult, or both.

Complex trauma is more common than single incident trauma and often has more damaging effects. It is costly for individuals, their families, their communities and their workplaces. The effects of complex trauma are often severe and persistent. They are compounded with subsequent traumas, causing cumulative effects.

A significant proportion of complex trauma incidence arises from childhood. When complex trauma arises from childhood it can be especially damaging. Because it’s often repeated and extreme and is perpetrated by trusted adults, and occurs when the brain is growing and developing, it can potentially affect every aspect of a person’s functioning through childhood into adolescence and as an adult.

One in four adult Australians has experienced childhood trauma, which includes sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, growing up with domestic violence, or with a parent or carer who has unresolved trauma such as a mental illness or an addiction. That’s over five million adults in this country.

Complex trauma experienced during adulthood can occur as a result of a diversity of adverse experiences including domestic and family violence, refugee and war trauma.

Survivors of complex trauma can have challenges with feelings of shame, self-blame and guilt. Many struggle with low self-esteem and find it hard to feel safe, and to trust others. When they haven’t received the right support, the effects of their trauma play out in their everyday interactions, at home, in the family and in the workplace. Many survivors struggle with relationships, with partners, within the family, with friends and at work. This can result in difficulties managing anger, aggression and conflict, or shutting down and withdrawing.

Complex trauma often affects mental health and wellbeing, with survivors experiencing high rates of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Physical health often suffers as well either because of the use of coping strategies such as smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol and drug use or because of the direct effect, especially of adverse childhood events on physical health.

Research shows it is possible to heal from even severe early trauma. And that when parents have worked through their trauma their children do better. However, to find a path to recovery people need the right support to embrace a sense of hope and optimism on their journey to recovery and building resilience.

How you can help
That’s why Blue Knot Day is such an important day and why Blue Knot Foundation is seeking your support in spreading the message of hope and healing.

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Dr Cathy Kezelman is President of Blue Knot Foundation.
Blue Knot Helpline 1300 657 380.
www.blueknot.org.au

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