Military women are not immune to the unwanted advances of men. In this week’s honest and raw post, Lydiaruth shares with us some healthy ways to handle trauma by leaning on God.

Healthy Ways to Handle Trauma

by Lydiaruth Thompson

As a young woman, there are times I feel belittled and weak. It depends on where I am or who I am around. 

Throughout almost half of my college experience, I was stalked. This is hands down one of the scariest and toughest things I ever had to face. I spent many hours processing the emotional trauma and documenting my history with this individual. I would never wish for anyone to go through what I did. As thankful as I am that this situation is finally in the past, it still affects me. I suffer from PTSD any time I see him. Even if I hear his name, it gives me chills. 

As I look back, I know what I hated most about the situation. I hated feeling weak. The feeling of being completely helpless. That justice would never be served. The feeling of entrapment. Feeling as if those who were supposed to fight for me, protected him more than me. It felt as if I was being hunted. 

I have heard similar incidents happen to women in the military. Yet, I know there are some situations where my story is no comparison. I am sorry if you have gone through anything like this. 

Being a woman already has its challenges in general. 

It is even harder when it comes to a career. Especially if it involves a career that is mostly picked by men. It takes boldness to step up to become a part of an occupation that involves fighting or protecting. It angers me that there are many women out there who never get justice. So many women feel unsafe, vulnerable, and weak. It should not be this way, but due to a sinful world, this is one of the results. 

As women, we look up to men and tend to trust them. We expect them to be the leader they ought to be. When they fail, they disappoint us; it dissolves our trust in men. Their conduct can easily deteriorate our view of all men. It is unfortunate when godly leaders fail. I have to fight to remind myself that we live in a fallen world. The greatest leaders and even evangelical role models fall. I remind myself, that I too have failed and disappointed many. I disappoint God daily without realizing it. 

Since men were created to lead, it seems they can easily get caught up in feeling dominant over women. Especially when they are placed in a career that involves danger. A perfect example of this is the military. It is easy to make assumptions of people and their professions. Some think women are not capable of being tough like men. I cannot imagine what this must feel like. Furthermore, I cannot imagine what it is like to be harassed as a female in the military.

I firmly believe in the power of testimony and being open. 

Sometimes the things we go through happen so we can sympathize or empathize with others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Giving them hope or comfort that they are not alone. As I look back on my experience with stalking, I see that God got me through. Family, friends, and a strong support system helped, but God was my ultimate strength. In the military, it can be extremely difficult if a soldier does not have a strong support system. Just remember, that God is always with you. Just because you cannot see someone, does not mean they do not care or are clueless about the situation. 

Before I turned to God, I noticed I ran to other things. 

I would run to my big brother, music, or exercise, purposefully removing myself from the situation as far as I could. I consciously chose to run away. It is a natural human response to escape any kind of problem. Though this might seem like fast relief, it does not offer a permanent solution. I might have been able to run away physically, but the issue remained. Any time I was triggered, I lost myself, I was overwhelmed, drowning in my own emotions immediately. Those were not healthy ways to handle trauma.

I understand it is much easier said than done but trust me. God is our protection. Run to God first, then seek wise counsel and encouragement from those closest to you. God loves you and wants his people to live abundantly. A pot can never be formed if it is not molded by the hands of the potter himself. A pot cannot be formed unless it is eventually placed in intense heat. God does not want me to hurt or suffer, but if I go through a trial, he is holding my hand. He will not put me through anything I cannot handle with him. 

It is easy to get angry at an individual who denies your freewill. To allow bitterness to boil in your spirit toward that person who steals your peace. Or to break down and hide. Tony Evans was once quoted as saying, “Do not allow a storm to trump or question God’s character.” God knows me better than myself, so I can hold tight to his promises.  

Practice walking toward issues and fears rather than cowering away. 

Of course, keep in mind, respect for others, and do not sin through anger. The truth is, if you cannot confront a problem or an enemy in the face, it will defeat you every time it comes around. Pray for wisdom and guidance because there is a difference between sin and defending one’s self. Though it is frustrating when you feel violated or as if nobody’s listening, control your emotions. I try to make sure my emotions are intact before I confront an issue. 

Do not allow the ultimate enemy, Satan, to get in your head. Do not listen to lies such as, don’t make anyone aware of your situation because it could endanger you more. It might very well be true that you shouldn’t open up to corrupt leadership, but openness is the very thing that could save your life. If I cannot find someone whom I can confide in, I pray and ask God to send me a new friend. Never allow fear to overpower you, because ultimately the enemy should be terrified with who he is messing with. That is, you, God’s child!

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

For more healthy ways to handle trauma, our Health Resources Page has some excellent recommendations to help you flourish mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.