Ignores social, cultural and political context
If we focus on power, resistance and liberation we might explore what oppression continues to exist in the life of the client and requires that they continue to resist. For example, a woman sexually abused as a child may also be responding to the ongoing abuse, exploitation and oppression of women she experiences as an adult. What often gets left out of trauma discourse is the way in which social circumstances and political climates impact on whether people can direct their emotional and mental energy to the present and forward to the future. An asylum-seeking person may feel tied to the traumas of the past partly because they are living in limbo waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum in the UK, partly because they feel loyal to their community’s experience of ongoing persecution, and because feeling unsafe in their present living circumstances replicates past experiences of danger.
Focus on victims
If it is the inner world of ‘victims’ that gets explored, we tend not to focus on the relational and social responses to the person who has been traumatised, the behaviour of the ‘perpetrator’ or their strategies of abuse. The perpetrator is largely absent from cognitive explanations for traumatic memory, other than creating the context for ‘trauma’. As part of the exercise of power there is often an active attempt by perpetrators to shatter the individuals’ assumptions about themselves and the world, and disrupt memory. In fact we could see an attack on memory as one of the major strategies of oppression in acts of violence and abuse.