Reflections on Trauma: The Impact on the Mind, Body, and Spirit

Many patients carry the burden of sexual assault and related trauma.

POETRY FOR INCLUSION

As a psychiatrist I have the privilege of hearing my patients’ narratives. Many of them have a history of sexual trauma and have not disclosed it to family or friends. This may be due to shame and/or fear of not being validated. I also have had friends and family members confide in me as it relates to their history of being sexually assaulted.

I decided to write the following poem as a way to further illuminate the impact trauma can have on the mind, body, and spirit. Furthermore, this poem also helps me process the years of traumatic stories I have heard from my patients and loved ones.

Personifying Trauma

Violated school-aged body

a childhood robbed

of innocence

a voice silenced

by familial predators

hyperviligance is

her shadow


Violated adolescent body

an internal dialogue

stained with guilt

a numbing shower

dripping with disgust

avoidance is

his defense


Violated adult body

a celebrated libation

tainted with

rapacious roofie

an invalidating bed

soaked with

nightmares

dissociation is

their friend


No! Stop! Me too!

a dormant

lexicon awakens

a cathartic chair

provides sanctuary

and speaks

truth


Dr Clark is an outpatient psychiatrist at Prisma Health-Upstate and clinical associate professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Greenville. He served on the American Psychiatric Association’s Task Force to Address Structural Racism Throughout Psychiatry, and he currently serves as the Diversity and Inclusion section editor and advisory board member for Psychiatric TimesTM.