Trauma and Recovery:

The Aftermath of Violence – from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

Written by: Judith Lewis Herman, MD
Narrated by: Jo Anna Perrin
Originally Reviewed: 5-29-16 on
Rating: 1, Must Read for all

 Should Be Required Reading… for Everyone 

Although I’ve been going backwards in time with republishing my reviews, a friend’s son endured a traumatic event so I’m expediting this republishing. I truly believe that everyone should read this book. There’s so much Trauma out there that we can’t not unwittingly further hurt others by our actions, simply because we’re not aware of the situation. Since my original reading of this book I’ve read these others that are incredibly insightful as well. With regard to Sexual Assault: Missoula, by John Krakauer; Start By Believing, by Dan Murphy and John Barr; and Getting Past your Past, by Francine Shapiro. For the Trauma related combat and/or violence or general trauma affecting the psyche: On Combat, by Dave Grossman; The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van der Kolk; and The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, by Bruce D. Perry. However as Ms. Herman puts forth, trauma is trauma and while each individual will respond and recovery in their own unique way, we all follow similar patterns/steps to this.

This book is so incredible, I can’t believe it’s nearly 20 years old and I had never heard of it before.

After recently finishing the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Program (SHARP) Victim Advocate course, I decided I needed to get some more perspective prior to actually talking to a victim of sexual assault. This one happened to be on the $4.95 special so I figured it was worth a chance. Ms. Herman has created such a powerful presentation showing the similarities of all post traumatic events that I’m stunned the Army doesn’t have this book as required reading for all Soldiers, addressing both our returning combat veterans as well as our disgustingly high amount of sexual assault victims.

I was so impressed with this book from the first chapter that I recommended it to my SHARP supervisors before even getting to the deep psychological juxtaposing of trauma victims. Although I’ve deployed several times, I myself haven’t been affected by combat trauma or sexual assault but have witnessed friends and family responses to it; I hope never to have that experience but I hope this inside look will help others I talk with.

I do take exception with Ms. Herman’s tacit indictment of all combat veterans suffering from PTSD as “committing atrocities”. While that might be the case with some of her case studies, only discussing those Veterans is a disservice to all those who’ve served honorably and been subject to atrocities. For this reason I give only four stars despite the “required reading” status I believe should be for all military members.

Since the Army (and DoD) are taking the issue of sexual assault so seriously now, it seems that the “cultural change” they are looking for should start with understanding the victims point of view, especially as that perspective seems to be so similar to that of all traumatic events.

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