Guest Blog: Christy’s Experience with Trauma

Team Newhouse

Photo of Christy Wineland in a blue, green purple graphic that reads guest blog - Christy's perspective

Meet Christy.

Mom. Woman with a disability.

Grant writer. Advocate. Friend.

Survivor of childhood and domestic trauma.

Christy Wineland changes the lives of women every day – with the power of her words – as a grant writer at Newhouse. Her story of strength and resilience is one of many supported by Newhouse, Kansas City’s first domestic violence shelter. 

She is not one to brag about her strength, but it’s evident when you learn she faced trauma as a child that’s impacted relationships all her life.

Christy Wineland, a survivor of childhood and domestic trauma, who works at Newhouse.


christy’s perspective

Christy was recently featured on the cover of The Independent magazine in an issue titled “Honoring Herstory”. She is sharing her experience with lifelong trauma as a guest blogger for Newhouse. Here is her perspective...

Every trauma survivor is unique – in their trauma and in their own recovery. For many of us, because we do not recognize nor understand the full extent of the trauma and its impact upon our action, emotions, and choices; we are not fully equipped to create a roadmap for recovery on our own. That is especially true when the trauma goes all the way back to our childhood. 


the tape starts recording

As a child, what is around us is all that we know. Violence and trauma are learned behaviors. We see that our friends’ home lives are different from our own and we crave what they have. When we are told repeatedly that this life is our fault, we think we must not be as good as our friends who have happier homes where they appear to live free from physical abuse, abandonment, and emotional damage. Some children internalize this abuse into a form of internal shouting. Shouting phrases of “what is wrong with me,” “I deserved that,” and “I wasn’t good enough.” It constantly plays in our head as a recording on an unforgiving loop – even when an achievement happens.  

This internalizing of abuse never leaves us. We do not simply outgrow it. How can we when science has shown that the brain is rewired toward the negative or sadness every time abuse strikes our body physically, emotionally, or mentally? Children who are fortunate to be exposed to positive programming later must undo the rewiring as they learn coping skills and new phrases to shout at themselves. They are fortunate in now being able to better understand healthy relationships in the workplace, with a significant other, and with themselves.  

Trauma is not necessarily the only thing to blame for our decisions or actions as we grow into adults. However, until it is recognized and named, we cannot fully understand ourselves and why we have such reactions. It takes significant effort and courage to turn off that recording, pull the tape out of the cassette, and effectively destroy it in hopes of never hearing it again.  

Photo of Christy Wineland smiling at the camera

cracks in the foundation

For children who have experienced trauma, the negative recording can play longer and louder as we grow into adulthood. The foundation of our core is built when we’re young and if the foundation is cracked, we may not have a safety net or positive relationship to support us. Those cracks in the foundation allow feelings of low self-worth, low self-confidence, and the belief that trauma is normal, to flood our bodies.   

Adult relationships are complicated on their own, but a person with childhood trauma is less likely to walk away when the relationship is unhealthy because the tape recorder might still play. We do not draw the line the first time they walk away and leave us emotionally destroyed. We do not stand up for ourselves when they tell us what we did wrong. We let them back in and pledge to fix it, although often they see ‘it’ as us, not them. This other person is aware of their impact and how to use it for their own entertainment or make themselves feel more powerful or in control. Each time they take a negative action, the tape recorder becomes louder and longer with new phrases and tones, and the cracks in the foundation are felt even deeper.   

As adults, we are trying to succeed in ways that matter to our hearts. But unless we have help, we are building upon a cracked foundation without spackle. Abandonment syndrome is very real with heartbreaking consequences.   

There is one phrase that makes my skin crawl even though I know people have positive intention when they say it – “children are resilient, they will get over this.” Forget that! If we are so resilient as children, then why are we spending years on therapy couches or falling into unhealthy relationships? We need to recognize and face the consequences of childhood trauma. Children are simply getting through each day, but a cracked foundation will have lifelong consequences until it’s healed.   

“We need to recognize and face the consequences of
childhood trauma.”

christy wineland


healing with newhouse

Healing is unique for each survivor. Newhouse offers an ecosystem of services with the understanding that there is no cookie-cutter approach to healing. Each victim is unique in their trauma and their healing requires them to go at their own pace. At its core, domestic violence is about power over another person. As victims choose services that speak to them and their level of involvement, they take back this power to destroy the unhealthy tape and heal the cracks within themselves and their children.  

 

Newhouse hired me because of my skills as a writer and fundraiser, not my empathy for survivors.  I rarely talked about my childhood publicly, but in private, I saw myself in the paragraphs I wrote on grant applications. My job consumes me because I need every donor to understand why Newhouse is so important. I have written paragraphs that I later deleted as they were simply too personal. What I did not realize at the time is that every paragraph I write and every grant we are awarded heals me by cutting the tape a little shorter and spackling a crack.   

Trauma has an impact on every part of my life: my mental health, self-esteem, choices, my relationships, and even likely caused my disability of hearing loss. But now that I recognize the tape loop and the cracks, I am able to work on myself purposefully and thoughtfully. I can now recognize when criticism stifles my creativity. I trust myself to recognize from the first date if a relationship will be healthy. I am confident in my role as a mother and protect my children from trauma like a pissed-off cow. I can quickly apologize when my knee-jerk reaction or awkward goofiness was not the most professional. I can do so much now because of my dedication to healing and growing. 


once upon a time

Once upon a time, trauma reared its ugly red pen and tried to write the story of my life as one mired with sadness, guilt, and pain. Today, and every day, I write with the colors of the rainbow – except red – to bring good to the world of domestic violence, provide meaningful support for the survivors in our community, and heal myself.   

Christy Wineland

Grant writer, Newhouse



Many thanks to Christy for using her talents and strength to raise funds for the survivors at Newhouse. Meet other members of Team Newhouse.