Tamanika, 41

Tamanika

Source: Courtesy of the Women’s Prison Association

Where I’m from: Brooklyn, New York.

What specific experience triggered your trauma?: I have experiences all levels of trauma from being abused as a child to sexually assaulted and experiencing domestic violence. However, the one specific experience that triggered my downfall would be the murder of my brother in 2011. My brother was the oldest in our family and losing him cause me to lose myself.

When did you become aware that you were suffering from trauma?: I believe I was always aware that I was suffering from trauma but I didn’t accept that fact until I accepted that I was a drug addict and I was sent to prison. While in prison, you have a lot of thinking time and you learn a lot about yourself.

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?: I have spoken with a professional about my life experiences. I find it very helpful to finally speak about things that I have been holding on to my whole life. As I speak about these things, I am able to understand why certain things happen and learn new ways of dealing with them.

Who/What do/did you turn to in moments when you are triggered or find yourself in a negative head space?: When I find myself in a negative head space, I first turn to God. Second, I turn to someone who I can talk to who will listen to me and not judge me. It can be my therapist or best friend or another woman who has gone through a similar experience.

What do you do to celebrate yourself in spite of what you’ve been through?: I wake up every morning, look in the mirror and I smile. I tell myself I am loved and I am beautiful.

Do you feel there is enough awareness around trauma?: I feel there is not enough awareness around trauma. When I was growing up, I never heard anything about it. I think it’s only mentioned to someone after something devastating happens to them and that is only when they are having a hard time dealing with it – someone like me who held everything in, but was not aware of what I was going through or what I needed at the time.

What do you want people to know about you as a survivor of trauma?: I want people to know I am a strong Black woman and a proud mother of four.  I have a good heart and I refuse to fail at life again or be defined by my failures. I am a survivor.

What would be the one word that describes you as a survivor of trauma?: Determined.

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