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UNDERSTANDING TRAUMA

The word “trauma” describes an experience that is distressing enough to overwhelm the involved person’s ability to cope. These are often situations in which the individual feels severely threatened, physically or emotionally. Traumatic experiences can range significantly – anything from a minor car accident to being exposed to warfare can cause trauma.

Possible Reactions to Trauma

Below are possible reactions to trauma, it is important to remember that people can respond to trauma in different ways. An individual may respond to trauma in a way that is not listed, or an individual may not experience much of a reaction to a traumatic event.


EMOTIONAL RESPONSES

Guilt

Shame

Embarrassment

Denial or Doubt

Anger

Distrust

Hopelessness

Loss of control/powerlessness

Depression

Suicidal

Numb or restricted range of feelings

Hyper-alertness or hyper-vigilance

Detached

Need to control everyday tasks

Depression

Concern with burdening others

PHYSICAL RESPONSES

Nightmares

Shaking

Anxiety/Fear

Pain

Headaches

Sleeplessness

Exhaustion

Stomach problems

Appetite changes

Sexual fears or problems

Flashbacks

Difficulty concentrating or remembering things

Unpleasant memories resurfacing

BEHAVIORAL RESPONSES

Lifestyle changes

Avoiding normal daily activities such as work or school

Avoiding people

Increasing use of alcohol/drugs

Refusing to talk about what happened or limiting discussion about the event.

Denying that the event happened

Acting like the event was no big deal

Substance use

Remember!

Every person is unique

and may have different reactions after experiencing domestic or sexual violence.

It is not your fault

Survivors of violence are never to blame for the violence — no matter where or how it happens.