Last night I had the privilege of seeing a cinema screening of ‘A Little Life’, the play adapted from the bestselling novel by Hana Yanagihara. As well as being beautifully written and performed, it was one of the most powerful and gut-wrenching experiences of my life. Both the book and the play follow the story of Jude, a highly successful lawyer, who is grappling with the appalling sexual, physical and emotional abuse he experienced as a child, the sexual and domestic violence he experiences as an adult, and the horrific, decades long impact that these traumas have had on his physical and mental health, as well as the impact on those who love and care for him.
For me as a survivor, the content and the way in which it was delivered hit very close to home, but apart from the content there was something I found both incredibly helpful and immensely sad.
The hopeful part is that the production website gave links to post show specialist resources to support those affected by the themes of the play, which is an acknowledgement that around 1 in 4 people share these devastating experiences. The sad part is that only three organisations – all charities, were listed as providing specialist trauma support. One based in London, one in the midlands, and ourselves at Trauma Breakthrough in the south-west. I am so glad charities like us are there to help, but it simply isn’t enough to meet the demand. I don’t know about the other organisations, but we have between 80 and 100 ‘Judes’ of all genders referred for help every single month. Most of these are referred by statutory mental health teams and GP surgeries, because they do not have any services to offer survivors of trauma. The problem is that as a small regional charity, we do not have the capacity to see more than a few of them at a time. If we had sufficient resources, we could quadruple the number of therapists we employ and that would still barely make a dent in our waiting list.
Trauma is the leading cause of mental ill-health and distress, and is a factor in approximately 40% of physical health conditions. As a society, it is vital that we begin to inform ourselves about trauma and the effect it has on literally millions of people, and it is even more vital that we find ways to adequately resource the support, care and treatment of trauma survivors.
If you haven’t read or seen ‘A Little Life’, I strongly suggest you do.
If, like us at Trauma Breakthrough you want every single survivor to have easy, free access to appropriate specialist support, please consider making a donation or setting up a regular standing order to us or if not us, then to another specialist trauma charity.
You can support the work of Trauma Breakthrough by visiting our donation page.