Joanna being interviewed by Reuters reporter about
what we were seeing among service members with sudden deployments.
Reporter was wearing a coat because we had to replace our furnace this year, too.

We are very lucky in that despite the COVID-19 outbreak, clients have not had to miss therapy. During the lockdown stages of the virus, clients utilized telephone therapy or the HIPAA-compliant video teletherapy platform. In July, we decided to allow clients to return to in person therapy if they wish, with temperature checks, a HEPA air filter in the counseling room, and plenty of hand sanitizer.  Several clients have chosen to continue to stay home, and we are happy to be able to accommodate them through the distance platforms.

One of our clients made a startling revelation in a telehealth session the other day. It probably was not a revelation for him, he was just telling me about his past trauma to get it off of his chest and for us to process it. While we have mostly been dealing with his moral injury and PTSD from his multiple deployments (15+ years of service), I asked him about any trauma prior to joining the military. His response was, unfortunately, not uncommon, but it was the first time I have had a client say it in a session:

(Paraphrased for privacy) “I had a pretty abusive upbringing, with Dad beating on my Mom a lot. He didn’t beat on us kids. I had a hard time though because, when I was in kindergarten, a friend of the family molested me. I knew it wasn’t right, and when I went to tell my dad he slapped me on the back and gave me a candy bar. He told me I should be really proud of myself for ‘landing a woman’ at such a young age and that I was a stud. At that point, I knew my dad was not going to be a source of help for me.”

It’s the responses like this–to young males who are molested by “pretty” females and instead of being taken seriously, they are congratulated–that starts a foundation for complex trauma. Our client learned at a young age that he could not rely on his family, even though he was the victim of a very serious offense. Hopefully, therapy provided by Quaker House will help soothe the years of hurt and betrayal, inflicted initially by his family, and provide a path for healing.

By Joanna, Quaker House Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, PTS, and Moral Injury Counselor

Published in our Winter 2020 Newsletter, News from the HomeFront