Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

Carroll Hospital event to focus on intimate partner violence

The psychological trauma of something like intimate partner violence or sexual assault has physiological consequences in the brain that can affect behavior hours, days and even decades later: that’s the fundamental idea being discussed at the April 11 program, “The Traumatized Brain: Fight, Flight and Freeze.”

This free event hosted by Carroll Hospital is targeted at the medical and social work professionals who may interact with people who have experienced trauma as well as lay people looking to better understand how trauma may affect their own behavior and that of their loved ones.


“Our focus will be from the point of view of intimate partner violence,” said Tracy Yingling, coordinator of forensic services at the hospital. “But will also speak somewhat to adverse childhood events that occur in early childhood up through middle age and how that impacts children later in life with regards to things like addiction.”

Keynote speakers at the event will be Julia Caplan, program coordinator for the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program at the VA Maryland Health Care System and Amber Guthrie, project director at the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence.”


Continuing education units are available for professional, Yingling said, and while the event is free, people are encouraged to register to help with an accurate headcount for refreshments: Call 410-871-7000 to register or with questions.

Some of the key concepts that will be explored will be how trauma affects the brain, activating the flight, fight or freeze system, elevates levels of stress hormones and how that can affect people in the short and long term, according to Yingling.

More importantly, she said, the talks will focus on how professionals, and lay people, can use a better understanding of trauma to better interact with others who have experienced it.

As a for instance, Yingling said, if a person was referred to the hospital emergency department after having been strangled in a domestic violence situation, the standard protocol would be to place on them a cervical spine collar. What if that patient became hysterical, screamed at medical staff and threw the collar on the ground?

Carroll County Breaking News

Carroll County Breaking News

As it happens

When big news breaks, be the first to know.

“As a health care provider, you have two choices: You can respond with, ‘what is wrong with you?’ and describe her as refusing to cooperate and being noncompliant or belligerent or even hostile,” Yingling said. “Or you can act in a trauma informed manner and respond with, ‘what has happened to you?’”

In this case, according to Yingling, paying attention to the effects of trauma require noting the fact that this person was recently strangled to the point of unconsciousness,

“She was experiencing extreme stress and engaging in self-protective behaviors,” Yingling said. “You have to be cognizant of where they are in their trauma response.”

And trauma can impact people not just in the immediate aftermath of some violent event, but even years later, as the trauma affects how we respond to stresses in our lives, and our responses to stresses shaping the lives we live, Yingling said.


“These learned responses, they carry on over decades and shape your personality,” she said.

In the end, whether it’s dealing with a loved one or a client in a professional, medical setting, Yingling said being aware of the affects of trauma means recognizing that negative behaviors may be rooted in that past experience, and need to be bet with understanding and compassion.

“I’m always trying to encourage folks when we are caring for patients that come into our psychiatric area of the emergency department to be careful about judging them and try to get that back story,” she said. “Everybody has a back story.”