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.


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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

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.