People tend to think of PTSD as a soldier’s problem. That it takes the horrors of war to induce post traumatic stress. But the fact is that anyone who deals with trauma and violence can suffer. Many people who have been the victims of domestic violence suffer from the long term mental trauma, often without realizing it and without getting any help. They often feel embarrassed that they “can’t deal with it themselves” or “are crazy enough to need a shrink.” But that’s not true. The effects of violence are real and the treatment for it is real too. No matter how big you are or how tough you are, violence can take its toll.
If you don’t believe me then just take a look at the biggest and toughest guys around. The NFL has recently changed its policies about dealing with unnecessary roughness and the potentially serious injuries that some types of attacks can cause on the field. This type of dirty football has had a negative impact on the players – not just physically, but mentally.
You don’t get much bigger or tougher than Cam Newton, the 2015 MVP Quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, who took the world by storm – and his team to the Super Bowl – when he hit the stage a few years back. Cam is one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL. He is known for an aggressive style of play that takes him away from the protection that shields most quarterbacks and sees him running the ball down the field every time he sees an opportunity.
Cam’s style has made him famous. But it’s also left him vulnerable to a lot of hits and trauma on the field. Defensive players on the other teams struggled to contain him and his athleticism. Some decided that the only way to stop him was to play a little dirty. Cam suffered from illegal hits to the helmet and knees, which didn’t just cost them points on the field, they put his body and brain in serious danger.
While Cam has never said anything about PTSD, the effects of this type of violence took its toll. He complained publicly about the issue and demanded a meeting with the commissioners of the NFL. Most tellingly, he talked about how his dream job, that he’d worked his whole life for, was no longer a positive thing in his life. The fun had gone out and it, and it had become a stressful thing for him to face.
Those words, that type of description, probably sounds very familiar to people who have suffered trauma. When you face an attack, when you’ve had someone deliberately try to hurt you, it causes mental and emotional stress. That’s one of the reasons that the NFL listened to Cam and tightened the rules on these types of infractions. This is serious business.
Many people who have suffered from trauma and violence think they have to deal with it on their own. They feel that getting help is embarrassing or shows weakness. But if a star NFL quarterback – big, strong, athletic – can reach out and get help for the stress and anxiety he feels after being attacked on the field, then it should be clear that anyone who has faced trauma and violence can and should seek help without any embarrassment. You can and should seek help without any embarrassment.