Shawn, 51


Source: Courtesy of the Women’s Prison Association

Where I’m from: Brooklyn, New York.

What specific experience triggered your trauma?: Gun violence caused my trauma. I was 5 ½ months pregnant when I was shot by a stray bullet and lost my twins.

When did you become aware that you were suffering from trauma?: After losing my twins, I became very depressed and withdrawn. I found myself medicated with prescription drugs which led to illegal drugs.  t took years for me to seek help and realize I was destroying my life.

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?: Several years went by before I realized I needed help.  I needed someone who could listen to my inner feelings and not judge me. I needed to discuss my situation without reliving it. Eventually, I found therapy which helped and has made me a better woman.

Who/What do/did you turn to in moments when you are triggered or find yourself in a negative head space?: At first, I turned to drugs as a coping mechanism. I didn’t really understand what I was experiencing. I just knew my anger and resentment was in full force which caused me to neglect my family and my other children. It caused me to not be there for them because on the inside I was sick and suffering. It took many years, but I realized I needed help and sought that help through therapy. It allowed me to express feelings that I didn’t know even existed inside of me. It allowed me to open up about my life and not be judged for it. It gave me reason to be a better woman and mom as I tried to rebuild relationships with my family members.

What do you do to celebrate yourself in spite of what you’ve been through?: Today I celebrate life.  I realize it was only luck that pulled me through my ordeal. So every day I try to live like it’s my last.

Do you feel there is enough awareness around trauma?: I don’t feel there is enough awareness around trauma because no one really knows what another person has been through unless that person shares it. People keep a lot of things inside and try to brush off the pain within.  I decided to tell my story and share my pain hoping it will help someone else share their story, better said than unsaid.

What do you want people to know about you as a survivor of trauma?: I want people to know that as a survivor of trauma, it has not been easy. It was a long process but through my experience it has made me a better woman.  My suffering made me stronger.  I want people to know I’m not the woman I used to be.  I’m a greater women that I ever thought I could be.  Just know, everything is possible to get through. Just hold on.

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

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