Months after Aurora theater shooting, days after Sandy Hook, officials launch trauma site
"What we wanted to do was harness the power of the web," Benight says. "It's really meant to be a self-empowerment site. An individual can learn a bunch of things and develop skills related to recovery."
Benight says clinical trials have shown that the site does help survivors of these tragedies deal with anxiety and depression.
And Benight is also working on a site for those who suffered through the devastating Waldo Canyon wildfires this summer.
The site is built with six interactive modules that address different coping skills.
"A lot of trauma survivors don't want to talk about what's going on," he says. "It's very difficult to share.... But we know that if you reach out for support...it gets better."
The site helps victims deal with triggers that remind them of the trauma and also has tools for relaxation, which Benight says is key.
"Often with trauma survivors, especially around a shooting, physically they get very hyper-alert," he says. "It makes them feel distressed and out of control again. This relaxation training teaches them how to calm down."
The site also encourages victims to be their own best advocate, recognize when they need help and take steps to seek out that help.
This kind of encouragement is central to the work of the 7/20 Committee, according to spokeswoman Karen Morales. "The focus of the 7/20 Recovery Committee is on the long-term impacts," she explains, noting that an important component of their work is "connecting people to the resources that are available in the community."
She says, "We wanted to launch the website now...so people can start to track how they are feeling."
Studies show that around nine months after this kind of event, victims' trauma can start to peak again, she says, and the upcoming court hearing for suspect James Holmes could also be re-traumatizing.
With the website launch yesterday, Morales notes, the committee has been spreading the word through the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance and through businesses, faith-based groups, the media and others.
Morales says that survivors of mass shootings can often develop post-traumatic stress disorder, and that's something that the 7/20 Committee is targeting: "What we are trying to do is really get ahead of that."
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