Tonya Stafford, 44
Where I’m from: Dallas, Texas.
What specific experience triggered your PTSD?: What experience triggered my PTSD was childhood molestation, rape, domestic violence and being sold to my perpetrator that kept me for 10 years.
When did you become aware that you were suffering from PTSD?: I became aware of the PTSD six years ago.
Have you spoken to a professional about your experience? If so, has it helped you find a way to cope with what happened? If not, do you believe medical attention unnecessary or is there a particular reason that is holding you back?: Yes I have spoken to a professional therapist about my experience that specialize[s] in trauma. Yes it has helped me. Therapy is a way of life for me, therapy continues to help and therapy helps me to cope with day-to-day and life experiences. In my experience and case, I have been in therapy for about 20 years. I receive therapy every Thursday and I love it. I encourage those that have experienced trauma to seek help.
Who/What do/did you turn to in moments when you are triggered or find yourself in a negative head space?: I turn to a friend who is a therapist as well. I can call her to speak with her. If I am in a situation that triggers me I remove myself from that situation quickly.
What do you do to celebrate yourself in spite of what you’ve been through?: How I celebrate myself is I travel take vacations with my fiancée, go to movies, comedy shows, to the lake just to take in the scenery. I also share my story to celebrate how I came to survive to celebrate me and my life I have now.
Do you feel there is enough awareness around PTSD?: No. There is not enough awareness around PTSD from childhood trauma or PTSD trauma etc.
What do you want people to know about you as a survivor of PTSD?: I would want people to know that you can live with PTSD with the proper help and support, but you must address the issues and past trauma first in order to survive and thrive. And don’t be ashamed of any diagnosis.
What would be the one word that describes you as a survivor of PTSD?: One of many words that describe me is a survivor and a thriver. I turned my pain in to purpose to give others that have suffered and feel like all hope is lost hope.