Coping with Violence

After a violent incident, you may feel shaken and unsure of what to do next. Even if you and your loved ones are safe, you may feel sad and overwhelmed at the losses that others have suffered. You may also be struggling to understand why violence occurs, and how you and your loved ones can feel safe in a world that sometimes seems dangerous and unpredictable.   

Prolonged personal experiences or the continued witnessing of racial discrimination can cause fatigue, traumatic stress, difficulty with concentration or lack of motivation. To combat such feelings, for many it is important to engage in self-care activities.  Self-care is a commonly recommended to promote a balance between mental and physical rest, activity and social interaction, especially in high stress situations.  Self-care should involve activities that bring some pleasure and promote a healthy lifestyle to offset the effects of race-based stressors. Don’t let guilt stop you from taking care of yourself. When you take care of yourself you renew your energy and can be better for everyone around you. You deserve self-care.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, these tips may help to bolster your resilience in the face of fear and trauma.

  • Acknowledge your reactions. There is no one way or “right” way to react. It is important to be aware and accept what you are feeling and thinking. Individuals or groups may respond to experiences of trauma differently.
  • Set boundaries around when and how often you consume media. Constant access to news and social media means that we can easily become overloaded by bad news. You might make a conscious choice not to watch the news right before bedtime. You might decide to leave your phone charging in another room, so you don’t check social media from bed. You may want to set a timer and limit access to newsfeeds to limited blocks of time.
  • Use communal self-care. Self-care does not need to be done alone.  Call/video a friend you have not spoken to in a while, set a virtual or in-person movie night, go for a walk with a friend or talk to a family member you have not spoken to in a while.
  • Be compassionate towards yourself. People respond to traumatic events very differently, and there is no right way to react or feel. Whether you experience grief or numbness, anger or fear, it is important to honor those feelings.  All these feelings and reactions are normal and natural responses to a traumatic event.  It is also normal to have no reactions; they may come later, or not at all.  We are all individuals.  We all cope and respond in our own ways.
  • Practice mindfulness. Fear tends to pull us away from being present in our lives—when triggered, it causes us to relive the past or to worry about what might happen in the future. You can start by downloading a mindfulness app from the EAP website and doing short breathing exercises or guided meditation.  Or, try Liberate and explore meditations and talks designed for the Black experience.  Yoga and dance can also very effective to help you to stay in the present moment.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Know that you are not alone in experiencing strong reactions to past and current events. Don’t despair if you are having a hard time concentrating at school/work or are becoming easily agitated with your partner or loved ones. Think of one thing you can do to be kind to yourself today.

Additional Resources:

If you feel distressed or triggered, know that having a reaction to violence and hatred is normal. Consider seeking support through your Student Assistance Program (SAP). Your SAP is here for you.


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