Dr. Randall Bell: Hello! I am Dr. Randall Bell. Welcome back to Core IQ where we talk about the skills we all need in life and in business.
Skills like negotiation, goal-setting, time management, and we’re here with JC Cavitt. Welcome.
JC Cavitt: Thank you for having me, Dr. Bell. Dr. Randall Bell: Absolutely, and we’re here to talk about a really important topic: trauma. The shared trauma cycle. You’ve put this graphic together. Why don’t we start off with explaining who you are, and I’ll mention, you might
want to print off the graphic from the website as we follow along, so if you would.
JC Cavitt: Absolutely, so I’m JC Cavitt, and I’m a sociologist. I’m also going to
grad school now for social work, and I’ve been working with kids for about
the past 15 years.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, so I bet with that comes some experience with trauma
and dealing with this stuff.
JC Cavitt: Oh absolutely. Absolutely.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay so why don’t we start off with the topic. Shared trauma cycle. What’s the big
picture of this topic, and why is it important? JC Cavitt: Well I think everybody, to some
degree, experiences trauma, and in it’s simplest form, trauma is something that
impacts you. That can have lingering effects. Dr. Randall Bell: Right, yeah and I’ve heard it said, like when I was dealing with the battered women discussion, if someone’s hit, that’s horrible. It’s absolutely
unacceptable, but that bruise will heal in about two weeks, but the emotional
trauma is what’s really damaging. It can last for years. Okay, so trauma is a bad thing, and I see here in the big picture you’ve
got the victim and the bully. How does that tie in with the title? What’s the
JC Cavitt: So like I said earlier, I work with kids, and the kids that I work with,
many of them have been on the receiving end of being bullied, but I’ve also
worked with the bullies themselves, and one of the things that I’ve learned
in working with both groups is that they both experience trauma.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, so they have
something in common. JC Cavitt: Absolutely. If you stay on the dotted line, you’re gonna stay in this cycle of trauma, and so the solid lines is these are opportunities, these are escape routes, so
that you can break this cycle. Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, I totally get that,
so do you want to start with the victim cycle and work through this?
JC Cavitt: Yeah, sure. Sure, so with the victim cycle, for those kids who are getting bullied, they
experience the trauma and no fault of their own. Some of the kids
that I work with feel like they deserve being bullied or they think that it’s
something that they’ve done or said that merits that being victimized and
it’s not, so it starts with the trauma itself, alright.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, you said something really that triggered me because victims are never
responsible, and anybody who suggests anything else is nonsense.
JC Cavitt: Never responsible.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, gotcha, so they experience the trauma. What do
you do to break out of that? JC Cavitt: So one of the things that I always advise is
trying to find someone that you could talk to, and in my situation, sometimes
advising my kids to talk to a teacher or a principal or a guidance counselor,
that doesn’t always work, so we have to be creative about who kids talk to now
because they don’t want to be viewed as a snitch.
Dr. Randall Bell: Right. Yeah, I got you, so
to breakout, I see the cycle goes here if you don’t do anything, and then
you break out by talking about it and then you find someone you can
trust essentially, and then what kind of choices? Where does it go from there?
JC Cavitt: So if we don’t
take that exit strategy, the trauma brings about all of these feelings, so
that if the person don’t look for an avenue to resolve or to deal with the
trauma, it leads to these feelings that oftentimes are negative. They’re
self-defeating. They’re internal, and it starts us on
this path of negative self thinking. Then these feelings come in, and you
have to navigate through those feelings. Now I’m afraid to go to school. I’m
trying to avoid school because I don’t want to be victimized any longer.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, got it, so what’s the next step in the cycle?
JC Cavitt: So the next step in the cycle is that I still have to
try, no matter what, I always encourage someone, try to identify someone that you
could go to. With kids, a lot of times they are situations that are way bigger
than them and it needs some outside help, so this is, when you stay on the cycle,
you have to start tracking your body signals. Become aware of what is getting
activated and triggered in you when you start to experience this
negative self-talk, so it’s things like sweaty palms, butterflies in your stomach,
heart start to race. They start having body sensations. A lot of them start
turning to negative harm, so they self inflict harm. Some of them drop out of
school, and they try to solve the problem by avoiding the problem.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, and we don’t solve problems by avoiding them.
JC Cavitt: Using that as a strategy, the trauma still remains. You’re not fixing anything by running away from it. If you don’t get off of this cycle, it impacts you. This unresolved trauma shows up in other areas of your life, so we have to find creative solutions.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay got it. So what’s next on the cycle? JC Cavitt: So if you’ve done all of these
things, now one of the ways to help combat that negative self-talk
is identifying healthy strategies to impact some of the negative self-talk
and the negative emotions, and one of the best things that you can do is exercise.
Do things that make you feel good about who you are. I tell a lot of my kids,
a lot of them are really talented songwriters and dancers and athletes,
feed energy into the things that make you you.
Dr. Randall Bell: Yeah, yeah well you
mentioned exercise. A huge thing. I think I’ve told you when we’re out
to lunch or something, I’ve gotten into exercise in the last six months. Big game
changer. Game changer. Okay because that really, not only it takes
care of yourself physically, but emotionally.
JC Cavitt: Yeah, and it’s proven that it
releases certain chemicals in the body that makes you feel good. It gives you the natural high. The next thing is if you stay on the cycle, you open up the
door for other people to bully you or you become this doormat that people
walk on when you don’t stand up for yourself and get the help that you need,
and you have to ask yourself a question at this point is am I going to allow
this, what’s happening to me, the effects of this trauma, to hinder me from
moving forward in my life? Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, okay and I’m seeing a pattern about talking about it, and that’s the mistake people make that keeps them in
trapped in this cycle is they keep it inside. Okay, cool. So what’s next?
JC Cavitt: Then finally, if it gets to the point and if you need it, absolutely seek
out professional help. Sometimes that professional help may be law enforcement.
It may be mental health. It may be therapy. It may be self-defense classes,
so whatever that is, whatever help that you need to
resolve this violent situation or this victimized situation. Get the help
that you need. Dr. Randall Bell: That’s a sign of strength. Sometimes people think calling the police, calling a therapist, calling someone and
reaching out for help is a sign of weakness. That’s
a myth. That’s baloney. The courage is saying, hey,
I’m in over my head. I need some help, and
you do what you got to do. JC Cavitt: Absolutely. Strong people ask for help.
Dr. Randall Bell: It’s easy to say let’s talk about it, and you have been victimized. You’re embarrassed about it. You haven’t told a soul. You realize there’s a problem, and you understand
that the only way out of this cycle is to talk to someone. How do you take that
step? What does that step look like from a victim’s perspective to make that leap?
JC Cavitt: Well I think the first thing is to understand that it’s normal to have
those feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment. It’s normal to ask those
questions to yourself did I do something wrong here? Is this my fault? I think once
a victim can understand that it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything
wrong, and to know that you’re not the only one that feels that and that there
is another side to whatever that experience is that you have suffered through.
Dr. Randall Bell: So you realize that. How do you then make the leap to – what
does that conversation look like? What’s the next step to actually talking to someone?
JC Cavitt: It’s a courageous and bold step that victims take when they are willing to go seek
outside help. It’s not easy. That first
step is probably the most pivotal step in this whole process.
Dr. Randall Bell: So it’s tough. There’s no script to go off having those uncomfortable conversations, so do
you just blurt it out? Do you just give it in little bits until you can
trust someone? What advice do you have?
JC Cavitt: It’s a slow conversation that has to take place at the victims pace. An
outside party can’t force or rush a person to open up about their traumatic experience. I think it depends on who that person is talking to. If the person goes to someone that there’s
a relationship that’s already been built and established and trust is there, maybe
that person who the victim would seek out for help can have a little more direct
approach in the questioning because you don’t have to do all of the foundation
laying, but if it’s someone that I don’t know, I think it’s it’s a slow process. A
lot of times with victims, it’s about safety. They don’t feel safe enough
about their experience, so you have to take time to build that that’s safety
net if you will, and simply going into – maybe it’s a treatment facility, maybe
it’s a rape counselor, crisis intervention worker, and just showing up.
Showing up. If you’re going to a professional establishment, the people
there, the case manager, the clinicians, the psychiatrist, they’re trained to
where if you show up and allow them to walk you through the process that comes after that.
Dr. Randall Bell: That’s a good point, so understanding that you don’t have to
share the whole story at once. You can share a little bit just to the point
that you’re comfortable. You don’t have to eat the whole elephant. You
just take one bite at a time. JC Cavitt: Absolutely. When it comes to
trauma, most of the time it’s a slow, long process.
Dr. Randall Bell: Anything else with the
victim cycle here? JC Cavitt: That completes the victim cycle.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, so I see a theme that as you don’t talk about it, as you keep it inside, the cycle goes round
and round. You never get out of the cage, and it goes down, down, down, whereas
by taking these steps we’ve talked about breaks you out of the cycle.
JC Cavitt: I think another big thing is that when you stay in the role of victim, statistics have
shown that kids from grades six to nine are 60% more likely to have a felony
conviction as they get older. Not only that, but it costs billions of dollars
for corporations when bullying happens in the workplace as well.
Dr. Randall Bell: That’s an amazing statistic, and in my opinion, I want to see what you think,
unprocessed trauma is the problem number one facing the human race. It’s the
biggest problem on the planet.
JC Cavitt: Absolutely. I would agree. Dr. Randall Bell: Okay good, so we covered the victim cycle here, JC. Let’s move over to the bully cycle. What’s the big picture here?
JC Cavitt: The big picture here is that many of, at least the kids that I work with, many of them have been traumatized themselves, and so they’re trying
to figure out how to manage that traumatization, and what it shows up as
is bullying. Inflicting hurt and harm on other people.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, so these people, they could be adults, they could be kids, they’ve been traumatized, and
they’re expressing that or reacting to it by being a bully.
JC Cavitt: Yeah, and for them, I think in most cases, it relieves some of that pain that they’re feeling, so we have this phrase that hurt
people hurt people, and that is so true when it comes to bullies. Hurt people hurt people.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay so actually these are close cousins.
JC Cavitt: Almost like identical twins.
Dr. Randall Bell: Yeah, so the bullies are hurting inside themselves. They’re
expressing it in a very bad way, but in a way, they’ve been victims
before. It doesn’t excuse their bad behavior. JC Cavitt: Not at all.
Dr. Randall Bell: So let’s get into a little bit of the detail. Where does this graphic start, and what does it tell us?
JC Cavitt: Much like the same with the victim cycle that if those who have
been victimized or those who are bullying that they have to talk about
that. They have to talk about why am i inflicting this hurt and pain on other people.
Dr. Randall Bell: And what do they say? that’s embarrassing to say hey I’m being a jerk.
JC Cavitt: And so the thing is if they no longer want
to participate in that behavior, is you’re trying to get down to the why. Why
do I do this, and often time, with the kids that I work with, they’re why is
because they’ve been victimized by a parent or a brother in their own past.
Dr. Randall Bell: So if I get this straight, if you’re a bully and you’re hurting other people,
you’ve got to really go back to see where you were victimized to see why you’re
acting out in this bad way. Am I missing it? I got it?
JC Cavitt: You’ve got it spot on! Dr. Randall Bell: Okay so what’s next here?
JC Cavitt: So here, if we stay on the
cycle, this unprocessed trauma continues to feed the behavior. Because that trauma
is unprocessed and it’s unresolved, it can show up in many different ways. It
can show up in drug abuse, substance use, victimizing and hurting
other people, so it’s that whole thing about unprocessed trauma.
Dr. Randall Bell: Interesting, so what’s the next step? JC Cavitt: So the next step is for them to understand what’s their triggers. Bullies also experience body sensations when they’re
triggered and activated. Generally when something makes them uncomfortable,
that’s when they want to act out. When they feel this need to inflict or bully
someone else, what’s going on internally? What’s going on emotionally? What are
they thinking and feeling at that point that triggers them to want to hurt someone else?
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay so what’s next here?
JC Cavitt: That if they don’t exit the
cycle, these negative feelings continue to produce negative behaviors.
Dr. Randall Bell: So they’re going to keep bullying, and it’s going to get worse until they’re in big trouble.
JC Cavitt: Absolutely. With this unprocessed trauma, what happens is those who are are inflicting trauma on other people, they’re trying to figure out a way to deal with their
negative emotions. A lot of them have low self-esteem, and so they’re trying to
make sense of their emotional core and what to do with that.
Dr. Randall Bell: Yes, so the bully or the macho guy, anybody acting overly tough or
violent has got unresolved trauma, and this is their way of processing it,
and the cycle continues down and down and down, so what’s the next thing?
JC Cavitt: Bullies can also – they can develop strategies that can help to alleviate
the feelings. Still doesn’t address the unprocessed trauma, but it helps to
alleviate the feelings, so exercise, listening to music, drawing,
reading a book, things like that.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, got it, so they’re trying to get
their adrenaline rush but in healthy ways. JC Cavitt: Absolutely, okay got it.
The next thing is the more bullies bully – if you get that – the more bullies bully,
the more they stay on this cycle. It feeds the negative behavior. It feeds the negative feelings.
Dr. Randall Bell: Got it, okay. So what’s the next thing?
JC Cavitt: Here as well, just
like with up here, you may have to seek some professional help depending on
how long the trauma was going on and how long you had to live with it. How deeply
embedded it is in you, that professional help may be the only way to get
that out, and for the bully, the end of this cycle could be really
devastating. It could end in death, prison, just really bad.
Dr. Randall Bell: Really bad. Not a happy ending to this story if it’s not processed, so
how do we break out of this cycle? JC Cavitt: So to break out of the cycle, is
the bully needs to understand their own victimization, their own traumatization,
really and understanding why. They have to be curious about why do I do
this? Why do I feel this way, so that’s the first thing is that
they have to be curious about the why. Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, so they have to have a spark of recognition. What do they do with that initial awakening if you will?
JC Cavitt: So being curious isn’t enough. They have to have a desire to want to
stop and change, and that’s a little bit hard to do by
themselves, especially when I work with young people. They need that outside
person to come in and act in a role of a coach to
help them change this negative, destructive behavior.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, so where does
it go from there? JC Cavitt: So once you’ve identified that I do
want to change, it’s what do I do? What steps do I take to change the behavior
that I no longer want to engage in, and it may take that coach or
that mentor to help craft an action plan. Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, if you’re being a bully, it
takes a lot of courage to say I need to break out of this. I’m hurting
others. I’m hurting myself. I’m hurting everyone around me with this
kind of behavior. It takes some emotional intelligence really to step up and say
hey I gotta have these difficult conversations. I’m not gonna cure myself
by myself. I’ve got to reach out. This is good stuff. What’s next on the list?
JC Cavitt: So lastly, those who – once that kid has that support network,
that system around them, people have to be patient. Give it time. Give it
time. This isn’t going to change – the behavior isn’t gonna change overnight,
and it may take, in my situation with the kids I work with, them falling down, going
back, reverting back into old behaviors, but constantly give them that
reinforcement, that encouragement that they can change the behavior.
Dr. Randall Bell: Now with your work, you’re on the front lines with some of this, and you talk to
bullies that are – Does this stuff really work?
JC Cavitt: It really works, but what makes it works is I’m consistent in how I show up and talk to my kids.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, but with that coaching, so I take it you’re probably
the person that they confide in sometimes. JC Cavitt: A lot of times.
Dr. Randall Bell: Okay, so as a coach, I’m just curious, from the coaches side, what do you say to
those kids that have opened up to you and say hey I got a problem with this?
JC Cavitt: I just flip it. They do it to their peer group. I’m much bigger than
all of the kids that I work with, and I say how would you feel if I did what
you’re doing to you? A lot of times they have this macho – because I’ve worked with mostly males, and it’s a whole different thing when
you know that I am now the bully that could possibly bully you, and it’s not a
feeling that anyone likes, and they admit to that. I wouldn’t like
you doing that to me. Then I tell them, why do you think this other kid
that you’re bullying would like you doing it to them?
Dr. Randall Bell: So you’re teaching some empathy here. Okay, gotcha, so what I’m seeing here
with the victim cycle is if you don’t process, that if you keep it
inside, it’s a downward spiral. It leads to drug addiction, alcohol addiction, any
kind of addiction, bad self-esteem, could even in extreme cases lead to suicide. Here it could lead to incarceration, being kicked out of school,
nobody wanting to hang out with you. You could be basically
excluded from the tribe, the group, the whoever. Bad
consequences either way, but the common denominator is wake up, realize this is
going on, and talk about it, and seek some help. JC Cavitt: Absolutely, and just to understand that unprocessed trauma impacts us all. Dr. Randall Bell: It sure does.
Okay, anything else? This is a great graphic and a lot of meaning here. Anything else
you want to mention?
JC Cavitt: No, thank you for having me. Dr. Randall Bell: Thanks for coming JC. You’re the man. Okay, so great Core IQ skill. Like it. Share it. Talk about it, and we’ll see on
the next episode.