Editor's Note

Wellness and trauma

Comfort Dorn
Aug. 31, 2023

Two days before my wedding, I was mugged.

A friend and I were walking home with groceries when four people pushed us down in an alley and started kicking us and demanding money.

I was more angry than afraid. My wallet was under me, in my back pocket, and I was determined not to give it up. Our attackers were all wearing shorts and sneakers, and I noticed that only one of them was kicking me, while three were kicking my friend. That seemed unfair. My friend was screaming. I was silent.

Most of our groceries were scattered on the ground, but the hamburger rolls were up in a bush. I wondered about the ice cream. It was a balmy evening, just around sunset, and I noticed people sitting and talking on nearby porches. After what seemed like forever but was probably just a few minutes, one of those people yelled something and the four would-be thieves sprinted away down the alley empty-handed.

We picked up the groceries, thanked the man who had yelled and walked home. We called the police and filed a report, then ate our hamburgers accompanied by several stiff drinks.

Two days later, I had big bruises on my thighs, and my friend could barely walk. When I told my mother what had happened, she said, “Thank God they didn’t get your face.”

I got married, danced with my bruised friend at the reception and went on my honeymoon. Everything seemed fine. I told myself it could have been worse. I don’t remember anyone ever asking me if I was OK once the bruises faded. But I felt different. I was afraid. Ever since then, I’m wary when I pass an alley.

In the great continuum of trauma, I think this is at the low end. But it had an impact. And my mother’s appalling (but understandable) reaction was a wound.

In one way or another, we all experience trauma and its aftermath. It shapes who we are. A big part of wellness is our ability to recover and learn from trauma — and our ability to be supportive and empathetic when those around us experience trauma.

For that reason, we are making trauma and recovery the theme of our 2024 wellness issue, to be published in January.

Telling stories helps us heal. I just shared my trauma story. Now I want to read yours. Send it to asbmbtoday@asbmb.org. The deadline is Oct. 1.

Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Comfort Dorn

Comfort Dorn is the managing editor of ASBMB Today.

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in Opinions

Opinions highlights or most popular articles

The language barrier: Daily struggles of an immigrant in science
Essay

The language barrier: Daily struggles of an immigrant in science

July 17, 2024

“Because I’m afraid of being misunderstood or judged for my accent or grammar mistakes, I sometimes hesitate to speak up in meetings or share my ideas with colleagues,” Thiago Pasin writes.

Water is the 2024 molecule of the year
Contest

Water is the 2024 molecule of the year

July 17, 2024

The 54 nominees included proteins and protein complexes, RNAs, lipids, drugs and therapeutics, signaling mediators and more. ASBMB members cast their votes and determined the winner.

'I can do it without making a face'
Essay

'I can do it without making a face'

July 10, 2024

Betty B. Tong describes the life lessons she learned 35 years ago as a Chinese graduate student in the U.S.

Why AlphaFold 3 needs to be open source
Essay

Why AlphaFold 3 needs to be open source

July 7, 2024

The powerful AI-driven software from DeepMind was released without making its code openly available to scientists.

Summertime can be germy
Advice

Summertime can be germy

July 6, 2024

A microbiologist explains how to avoid getting sick at the barbecue, in the pool or on the trail.

Shades of cultural difference
Essay

Shades of cultural difference

July 4, 2024

“I was perplexed,” Humphrey Omeoga writes. “(M)y greetings frequently went unacknowledged. In Nigeria, people are always willing to accept and return greetings, especially from a foreigner.”