Danya Institute Inc.

Trauma/PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Healing Neen

Healing Neen is a feature-length documentary of a young woman once trapped in a cycle of neglect, prostitution, and drug abuse. Provocative and emotionally turbulent, Neen’s story is also one of healing and recovery. After enduring a childhood of trauma and abuse, Tonier Cain (“Neen”) survived two decades of living on the streets. Arrested 83 times, with 63 convictions, many told her that she would spend the rest of her life in prison or die on the streets. Now a renowned motivational speaker, Neen ends her presentations with an emphatic; “Not so, not so!.”

Working for the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care, Neen currently travels the country, attending conferences as an advocate and educator on the devastating impact of childhood abuse and the need to focus on trauma-informed care. Meeting one-on-one with women in prison, Neen helps to inspire others with her story, citing as her mantra ‘where there’s breath there’s hope’. Healing Neen profiles the transformation of a remarkable woman, illustrating how one transformed life can aid thousands afflicted by trauma and abuse.

Full length video

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

This video from nkm2.org makes a concise argument for changing the culture of silence within the military. Because discussing feelings of depression is seen as a sign of weakness, many soldiers self-medicate with drugs and alcohol instead. They suppress the pain they feel, and as a result, many contemplate suicide. This video brings awareness to the importance of encouraging soldiers to talk about the emotional pain and suffering they experience in an effort to gain peace of mind. (00:03:43)

Experiencing PTSD

In this clip from the documentary “No Kidding, Me 2!” (2010), Army Times reporter Kelly Kennedy talks about the events that caused her to develop PTSD and Dr. Chris Stuart explains what PTSD is. This video includes a graphic battle description (no profanity) and may not be appropriate for young viewers. (00:02:44)

Badge of Life: The Police Mental Health Check

This video (about halfway down the page) is from The Badge of Life, an organization devoted to raising awareness about PTSD for police officers and civilians in order to prevent suicide. It describes the difficulty of raising awareness about mental health help in the police force because of the stigma attached to asking for help in such a setting. It does a great job of defining PTSD, trauma, and the difference between cumulative trauma (what police officers experience regularly) and one critical incident. The message urges officers to meet with a therapist, even if nothing seems to have gone wrong, in order to stay in mental shape for their jobs. It is worded to subtly twist the ideas of weakness and strength, adequate job performance, and job underperformance so that it speaks the language of officers. This would be a great video to present to a group of law enforcement officers (though it might already be protocol in some counties), but it would also be helpful for anyone working in a mental health setting to keep an open door policy for officers that are not necessarily in crises. (00:05:11)

When I Came Home

This authentic and gritty portrait of an Iraqi war veteran’s struggle to rebuild his life back in the states is by filmmaker Dan Lohaus. This film, released in 2006, allows Herold Noel to tell his story in his own words. He left his hometown of Brooklyn, New York because it was a place with very few opportunities for a young person without an education and joined the service. However, he later returned to face all of the same challenges he tried to leave behind. In addition, he must now also cope with the torment of traumatic memories of his time in Iraq. His PTSD frequently robs him of sleep and the ability to function normally.

We see Herold struggle to find shelter and assistance for himself and his children in the face of an extremely bureaucratic and unhelpful system. This experience transforms him into an activist, speaking out to everybody in government and the media who will listen. While he is the main character, we also meet several other veterans from both Iraq and Vietnam as well.

It is fortunate that there are not too many 2006 facts or expert talking heads in this film, as the number of homeless veterans has been reduced considerably since it was made. Undoubtedly, this moving film and the work of Herold Noel and others forced the Veterans Administration to make significant strides in reducing homelessness among its veterans. However, there is still much work to be done. The film remains a powerful testament to the difficulties veterans face when trying to rejoin the civilian world.

Post-Trauma Wellness: A Guide for Helping Professionals

This recorded lecture presents timely and cutting-edge insights into the best ways to improve behavioral healthcare.

A project of the Center for Post-Trauma Wellness in California, this DVD features John Records, JD, and Heather Larkin, PhD. They begin by explaining how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s “Adverse Childhood Experiences Study” was able to document the strong correlation between childhood experiences of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction to later health problems.

The evidence is overwhelming that the more a young person under 18 is exposed to one or more “adverse childhood experiences,” the more likely there will be consequences that carry over into their adult lives. “Adverse childhood experiences” can include abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual), neglect (emotional or physical), domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, divorce, or incarceration of a family member.

Consequences of this exposure may include chronic diseases (such as those of the heart, liver, and lungs), mental health issues, obesity, substance abuse, and domestic violence, among others. While this may seem discouraging, the presenters do not believe that the past is destiny. Behavioral healthcare providers can “help people see that their story is essentially heroic.” One can learn to view oneself as a survivor capable of recovery and change. The “Integral Therapy” they recommend takes a holistic approach to treating the mind and body of a person as a member of a larger community and social network.

Their presentation ends with a quote from Joan Borysenko’s Fire in the Soul:

”Some of the healthiest people I know are those who have had to heal from the most challenging situations, and in the process, have gained insight and wisdom far beyond what a “comfortable” life would ordinarily provoke.”

More information and resources are available at the Center for Post-Trauma Wellness website: http://www.posttraumawellness.net/

Fight Like A Girl

At first glance, the feature-length documentary “Fight Like A Girl” might be dismissed as a film simply about women’s boxing without any relevance to the behavioral health community. However, a closer look reveals that it provides many important insights about PTSD and the lasting impact of childhood trauma. This film could also inspire valuable discussion about the different paths people take to cultivate resiliency and move forward with their lives. The film’s website accurately describes it this way:

Told from a first-person perspective, “Fight Like A Girl” is about women overcoming their demons through boxing while telling a larger story about abuse, trauma, mental illness, and healing. In a gritty, first-person narrative that was shot over a period of five years, filmmaker Jill Morley delves inside the little-known world of female boxers to meet the women who are passionate about fighting hard. She gets pulled into this culture as she trains for the New York Golden Gloves. From world champions to amateurs training for local tournaments, Jill discovers they all have a lot in common. Throughout the film, how she and the other women she trains with arrive at boxing is revealed. The real emotional history and traumas bubble up, fleshing out a compelling story about women overcoming adversity in what many consider a violent sport.

Change is often difficult because it involves making oneself vulnerable, which most people try to avoid at all costs. Morley is able to do this hard work through her commitment to boxing and her fellow female fighters. This bravery allows her to confront her demons from childhood abuse and learn how to manage the PTSD that she has been diagnosed with.

Morley’s journey makes a very watchable and engaging documentary. It does not glamorize the world of boxing but presents it in such a thoughtful way that even people who are repelled by its violence will better understand its appeal. In addition, this film does not take the easy route of demonizing men. While one of the boxers profiled did suffer domestic violence from a former boyfriend, Morley’s husband is interviewed and comes off as very supportive. This film is highly recommended as a tool to educate and raise awareness not only about trauma but survival and resiliency as well.

This film is available on many platforms. See the full list.

Fight Like a Girl

Sources for more short videos on TRAUMA/PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)