Imagine the scene: You are making your way through life’s journey, sometimes stumbling over rocky terrain, and you see a figure on the horizon. You wave at this shadowy figure and smile, hoping to exchange a few pleasantries, but instead they turn their back on you and run away. Asshole, you probably think. And who can blame you?
As your journey progresses, again you encounter the same shadowy figure. This time they are blocking your way, forcing you to interact with them. You politely ask them to step aside, but their eyes seem flat and lifeless. Did they even hear you? In a bid to get their attention you tap them gently on the shoulder. At this point, you awaken the beast. Every muscle in this shadowy figure seems to clench like an angry fist, and they spin around, staring at you with wide eyes of rage.
Your assessment of this person has now morphed from Asshole to Lunatic, and you decide that it is your turn to run away. But before you do, you see that their backpack is hanging much lower than yours; it appears to be weighed down so heavily that the straps are starting to tear at the seams. At this point, you realise that they are carrying the weight of a Ten-Ton Trauma.
The Weight of the Ten-Ton Trauma
Trauma results from exposure to death, injury or sexual violence. It is estimated that 61% of the Male Labelled (someone who was given the Male Label at birth) in the United States report exposure to at least one traumatic event (SAMHSA). Trauma can often cause someone to feel too much or too little.
Here are ten examples of the Ten-Tons of Trauma:
In the early days, trauma was something of an enigma. After the Second World War, in my country of origin (the United Kingdom) our treatment of war veterans was shameful. If they returned from the battlefield with symptoms we now know to be Trauma, they were put on trial for desertion (and sometimes even executed). As if gunpowder still stains the air, a stigma still lingers around the Male Label and Trauma.
As a society, we are more likely to interpret the behaviour of the Male Labelled as angry, aggressive or hostile. We are less likely to look beneath this behaviour and discover whether they are, in fact, carrying a Ten-Ton Trauma.
To highlight the way society interprets the behaviour of the Male Labelled, we only need to look at a study carried out by John and Sandra Condry. I have mentioned this in other articles but by way of a brief recap –
Ten-Ton Trauma Tenfold
Not all Male Labelled people are carrying the same Ten-Ton Trauma in their backpack. For some, their Trauma has been multiplied tenfold. Here is what I mean -
So the next time our journey takes us into the path of a strange, shadowy figure, take a minute to consider what additional weight they may be carrying. And, if possible, offer to help share the load of their Ten-Ton Trauma.
So what do you think?
Does any of this resonate with you? Get in touch by sending me a message privately via the Contact Page, or add a public comment below, and engage in the debate.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
Therapist, writer, educator, and LGBTQ+ advocate