01 Mar Response to the school shooting in Florida
It’s hard to know where to begin to respond to yet another event like this—hence my delayed response. As if the pundits, politicians, and the lobbyists haven’t already covered all the possible responses. As rage builds, exhaustion sets in, the shock wears off, and as people around the country dig into whatever side they’ve decided they’re on concerning this divisive topic, there are those, like myself, who just want to take moment, a breath, and mourn. I mourn, not just about what happened in Florida on a day where love was supposed to be celebrated, but also mourn the other events in the news that got lost underneath the shooting headline: like this story about children in a home where they were beaten, locked in closets, and forced to eat dog feces. There was also the story of actress Minnie Driver withdrawing her support of the charity Oxfam over abuse allegations.
In other words: there is a lot of hurt out there. A lot of people doing harm. A lot of suffering. As a therapist, and, more importantly, as a person, I have seen my fair share of all three. So when I see these news items, hear the stories from the victims about the unspeakable tragedies they have experienced, my heart is moved, and in more ways than one.
I empathize with the people impacted by these events. I am in awe of their bravery, their ability to survive the impossible. I think about my patients who have experienced their own traumas which may or may not have captured the headlines. I think of my patients who were silenced into not sharing their “stories.” I tell them how sorry I am they had to go through what no one should have to go through, and try to instill in them a sense of hope. They have made it this far. They can go further.
I also, possibly controversially, remember the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” when thinking about the perpetrators of these atrocities. These individuals do not exist in a vacuum. Statistically speaking, they hurt and harm because they have been hurt and harmed—and even if that’s not the case, there is a possibility that, if they had sought help on a therapist’s couch or anywhere; had access to someone who would listen without judgment; and had been taught the right way to deal with their emotions, then maybe, just maybe, they would not be perpetrators of atrocities.
Please don’t be afraid to ask for help, no matter what you’re going through. Helping yourself could, in the long run, help others as well.
Kaneeza Lafir is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalyst with offices in Norwalk and Tustin, California.
To learn more about Kaneeza’s work and to see if she might be a fit for you, call for a complimentary, initial consultation session in person or by phone (562-773-3044)