The month of October carries with it the feeling of fall, apple orchid visits, and a warm cider on a crisp and chilly afternoon. However, for some, the month of October holds a very different meaning as it marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month. During this month, we take time to recognize the stories and experiences of those who have been or currently are victims/survivors of domestic violence.

The issue of domestic violence has a hold on not only those who experience it directly, but anyone who has seen the way it affects those who have had to go through it. The traumatic experiences of this type of abuse can have a lasting impact on the entirety of the victims’ life and is therefore detrimental to their physical and emotional well being. This video from the Media Co-op defines trauma as “what occurs when a person is overwhelmed by something beyond their control.”

When an event occurs that is out of your control and is somehow harmful to you, there are natural mechanisms in your brain that trigger responses to keep you safe. Yet there can also be extremely severe consequences if these responses are triggered constantly. The ability to cope with and manage the effects that trauma can have on the brain is no easy task. There are many ways that people can choose to avoid their pain through substance abuse, an unhealthy relationship with food, addiction to technology, or forms of self harm. However, there can also be more positive ways to handle the pain of trauma that allows for growth and healing. 

Expanding from the phenomenal power music holds in the world of speech therapy, it has also been proven by many as a productive tool in recovering from trauma that has originated from experiences of domestic violence or abuse. According to a study done at Ohio University, music therapy provides a “safe medium” in which survivors have control over a nonverbal form of expression. This research describes the ways in which music can increase reality orientation, self-esteem, and communication skills — each of which are critical factors in the process of healing and recovery from trauma.

In her TedTalk describing her own path of healing, Karla Hawley elaborates on how making music is what kept her alive through some of her darkest moments: “When music is applied with intentional strategy,” she says, “it can restore our ability to be back in our lives with meaning, to understand your pain, and to understand your trauma story. And that is the difference.”

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