As the final installment of my series on males and trauma, this blog will look at the final, and perhaps most controversial, of the three points identified in my first installment:
The community-based services framework in which most of the trauma services in the addictions and mental health fields were developed was created by women, for women, and normed on women’s experiences.
This development was not bad, per se. But our failure to acknowledge this incredibly important detail has significant impact on the current framework and the delivery of trauma services. More than any one fact, this has limited the effectiveness of our understanding of trauma, from our initial awareness to training to design and delivery of services to how we fund the services and even support individuals in their recovery.
As I mentioned in part two of this series, when the trauma movement began it happened on two mostly distinct paths: The VA began creating services for veterans, and then there were the community-based services. The VA reinforced the idea that when it comes to men, the ones who have trauma are the veterans, the soldiers. I hear that idea reinforced everywhere I go—whether it is some of the putative experts on gender and/or trauma, or professionals working in the field. There is no question that these services are not only necessary but also are in dire need of more resources to serve a population that is being decimated by the toxic intersection of trauma and hyper-masculinity.
At close to the same time as these developments in the VA was the development of community-based services. This was driven primarily by women rightfully fighting for effective services and finally talking about some of the most horrific abuses human beings perpetrate against one another: sexual assault, sexual abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and other significant abuses. These were—and still are, mostly—services that are designed for and delivered by women. This is nowhere more evident than when it comes to the disproportionate allocation of resources for domestic violence and child protection and the biased policies and overall lack of awareness permeating both of those systems. The biases built into these two systems have caused hundreds of thousands of men to lose their families, be kept out of their children’s lives, be branded as “batterers,” and, most importantly, be slowly destroyed by the trauma very few see or address. Perhaps what is most frustrating and sad is the number of wonderful people with truly good intentions working in those fundamentally broken systems.