Healing Trauma

Pioneering Trauma Expert Bessel van der Kolk.

Pioneering trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk: “The prevailing brain-disease model overlooks four fundamental truths: #HealingTrauma

(1) our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another. Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being;

(2) language gives us the power to change ourselves and others by communicating our experiences, helping us to define what we know, and finding a common sense of meaning;

(3) we have the ability to regulate our own physiology, including some of the so-called involuntary functions of the body and brain, through such basic activities as breathing, moving, and touching; and

(4) we can change social conditions to create environments in which children and adults can feel safe and where they can thrive.”

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.”

Luke Pearson writer for IndigenousX:

“It is for everyone else to reflect on the labels white people give us and fight to assert our own identities outside of the boxes they try to put us in – ethnic, indigenous, multicultural, diverse, migrant, etc.
It is for everyone else to fight for our terminologies, for our capital letters, for our right to belong unchallenged and unquestioned, for our right to determine for ourselves even something as simple as our own names.”


“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.”

“In coping with the dread that persisted long afterward, these patients had learned to shut down the brain areas that transmit the visceral feelings and emotions that accompany and define terror. Yet in everyday life, those same brain areas are responsible for registering the entire range of emotions and sensations that form the foundation of our self-awareness, our sense of who we are. What we witnessed here was a tragic adaptation: In an effort to shut off terrifying sensations, they also deadened their capacity to feel fully alive.”

“If you come from an incomprehensible world filled with secrecy and fear, it’s almost impossible to find the words to express what you have endured. If you grew up unwanted and ignored, it is a major challenge to develop a visceral sense of agency and self-worth.”

“As the ACE study has shown, child abuse and neglect is the single most preventable cause of mental illness, the single most common cause of drug and alcohol abuse, and a significant contributor to leading causes of death such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and suicide.”

“Trauma affects the entire human organism—body, mind, and brain. In PTSD the body continues to defend against a threat that belongs to the past.”

“After trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system. The survivor’s energy now becomes focused on suppressing inner chaos, at the expense of spontaneous involvement in their life.”

“It is enormously difficult to organize one’s traumatic experiences into a coherent account—a narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

“When something reminds traumatized people of the past, their brain reacts as if the traumatic event were happening in the present.”

“The stress hormones of traumatized people, in contrast, take much longer to return to baseline and spike quickly and disproportionately in response to mildly stressful stimuli.”

Freya’s Tears (Golden Tears) by Gustav Klimt.
#Healing Trauma. #YouBelong

“Silence about trauma also leads to death—the death of the soul. Silence reinforces the godforsaken isolation of trauma. Being able to say aloud to another human being, “I was raped” or “I was battered by my husband” or “My parents called it discipline, but it was abuse” or “I’m not making it since I got back from Iraq,” is a sign that healing can begin.”

Australian of the Year Grace Tame: #LetHerSpeak

“Trauma does not discriminate, nor does it end when the abuse itself does. First Nations people, people with disabilities, the LGBTQI community and other marginalised groups face even greater barriers to justice. Every voice matters. Just as the impacts of evil are borne by all of us, so too are solutions borne of all of us. I was abused by a male teacher. But one of the first people I told was also a male teacher, and he believed me. This year and beyond my focus is on empowering survivors and education as a primary means of prevention. It starts with conversation. We’re all welcome at this table. Communication breeds understanding and understanding is the foundation of progress. Lived experience informs structural and social change. When we share, we heal.”


“Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going inside ourselves.”

“As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself…The critical issue is allowing yourself to know what you know. That takes an enormous amount of courage.”

“Mainstream trauma treatment has paid scant attention to helping terrified people to safely experience their sensations and emotions.”

“We just did a study on yoga for people with PTSD. We found that yoga was more effective than any medicine that people have studied up to now. That doesn’t mean that yoga cures it, but yoga makes a substantial difference in the right direction.”

Isha Yoga Centre, Tamil, India.

“Go deeper past thought into silence; past silence into stillness; deeper still, past stillness, into the heart.” – Chris McCombs

“As I often tell my students, the two most important phrases in therapy, as in yoga, are “Notice that” and “What happens next?” Once you start approaching your body with curiosity rather than with fear, everything shifts.”

“Beneath the surface of the protective parts of trauma survivors there exists an ‘undamaged essence’, a ‘Self that is confident, curious, and calm’, a ‘Self that has been sheltered from destruction’ by the various protectors that have emerged in their efforts to ensure survival.”

Importantly: “Once those protectors trust that it is safe to separate, the ‘Self will spontaneously emerge’, and the parts can be enlisted in the healing process.”

“Trauma constantly confronts us with our fragility and with man’s inhumanity to man but also with our extraordinary resilience.”

“I can’t begin to imagine how I would have coped with what many of my patients have endured, and I see their symptoms as part of their strength—the ways they learned to survive. And despite all their suffering many have gone on to become loving partners and parents, exemplary teachers, nurses, scientists, and artists.”

“Most great instigators of social change have intimate personal knowledge of trauma. Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, and Elie Wiesel. Read the life history of any visionary, and you will find insights and passions that came from having dealt with devastation.”

What began as a fight for equal working conditions evolved into the much larger fight for Aboriginal land rights, which took on national momentum. Mervyn Bishop Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into hand of traditional landowner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory 1975, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Source: Bessel van der Kolk Quotes. A pioneer in Trauma-Informed Research. For example: ‘The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2014)’. https://www.besselvanderkolk.com

Now you know the power of Trauma Informed Care. Let’s turn this framework into a mindset for personal, social and political change. If you are unable to, you might need help first, to get safe or become ‘unstuck’ from trauma. Reach out for trauma informed care. #YouBelong

With love,

Dr Louise Hansen
PhD in Psychology
Human Rights Activist

#HealingTrauma #Justice4Australia #YouBelong

Vincent Lingiari, addressing the media after Prime Minister Gough Whitlam officially returns Aboriginal land at Wattie Creek 1975.

Paul Kelly and Kevin Carmody – From Little Things Big Things Grow (1993):

“Gather round people I’ll tell you a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiari
Were opposite men on opposite sides
Vestey was fat with money and muscle
Beef was his business, broad was his door
Vincent was lean and spoke very little
He had no bank balance, hard dirt was his floor
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
Gurindji were working for nothing but rations
Where once they had gathered the wealth of the land
Daily the pressure got tighter and tighter
Gurindji decided they must make a stand
They picked up their swags and started off walking
At Wattie Creek they sat themselves down
Now it don’t sound like much,
but it sure got tongues talking
Back at the homestead and then in the town
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
Vestey man said I’ll double your wages
Eighteen quid a week you’ll have in your hand
Vincent said “uhuh, we’re not talking about wages
We’re sitting right here ’till we get our land”
Vestey man roared and Vestey man thundered
“You don’t stand the chance of a cinder in snow”
Vince said “if we fall others are rising”
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
Then Vincent Lingiari boarded an airplane
Landed in Sydney, big city of lights
And daily he went round softly speaking his story
To all kinds of men from all walks of life
And Vincent sat down with big politicians
“This affair” they told him “it’s a matter of state
Let us sort it out while your people are hungry”
Vincent said “no thanks, we know how to wait”
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
Then Vincent Lingiari returned in an airplane
Back to his country once more to sit down
And he told his people “let the stars keep on turning
We have friends in the south, in the cities and towns”
Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting
‘Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land
And he came with lawyers
and he came with great ceremony
And through Vincent’s fingers
poured a handful of sand
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
Well, that was the story of Vincent Lingiari
But this is the story of something much more
How power and privilege can not move a people
Who know where they stand, and stand in the law
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
(from little things big things grow)
From little things big things grow
(from little things big things grow)
From little things big things grow
(from little things big things grow)
From little things big things grow
(from little things big things grow)
From little things big things grow
(from little things big things grow)
From little things big things grow
(from little things big things grow)
(From little things big things grow)
(From little things big things grow).”


“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from First Nations to all Australians to realise a better future. Learn more and help us educate other Australians.”



“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
“Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of support we received overnight! We’re able to fund one more Indigenous Psychology student for a full three year Psychology degree from just a 10 minute appearance on ABC #TheDrum.” – Dr Tracy Westerman AM

If you would like to donate, please visit:

My partner Marcelo Alegre Rubic who taught me do not let anyone control your life. #YouBelong

Trauma Informed World was inspired by Kopika and Tharnicaa; two faces that remind us everyday of Australia’s cruel refugee system. One of many systems in Australia that remind us of the negative operation of power. #HomeToBilo

Kopika (left) and Tharnicaa (right) were kept at Christmas Island Detention Centre for nearly two years despite trauma informed calls to return them to Biloela, Queensland. Tharnicaa has spent most of her life detained by the Australian Government and is still in community detention to this day. #YouBelong


***Since the creation of this website the Biloela family were released from detention, returned to Biloela and granted permanent protection in Australia. However, hundreds more people still remain stuck in a system that requires urgent reform.***

Welcome to the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law. Join us to make positive changes for refugees around the world.


New Kaldor Centre policy brief proposes reforms to Australia’s temporary protection system | Kaldor Centre:


You can listen my talk with Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, President of Blue Knot Foundation on my own healing journey, training and study and how it has informed my work and advocacy for a trauma informed world here:

Trauma Informed World acknowledges and respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and waterways on which this educational resource was inspired. I acknowledge and respect Elders past, present and emerging. I honour the continuation of educational, cultural and spiritual practices and celebrate the extraordinary diversity of people and relationships worldwide. This website contains images of deceased persons. There are also swear words in some of the songs presented that portray intense emotions. This website is not intended to trigger people who have experienced trauma. However, if you do find any of the content triggering, each page has a link to Australia’s National Helplines and Websites for immediate mental health support. These are my own personal views and comments and may not reflect the views of my employer.

Australia’s National Helplines and Websites:


To provide the best information possible, Beyond Blue has listed national helplines and external services. All services linked to Beyond Blue are reviewed before they are posted.

Published by Dr Louise Hansen

This is a free educational website on Trauma Informed Care for survival and wellbeing. While each injustice differs, all stories share the same trauma: the negative operation of power. Let’s break the cycle of injustice and trauma together one day at a time. The byproduct of clarity is peace. Joy is peace dancing. Trauma is disconnection. Empathy fuels connection. Knowledge is power: “Love is the absence of judgment.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama. #YouBelong

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