Trauma is a broad term but basically refers to an event which happens in our lives which is out of the ordinary and compromises or overpowers our brains ability to cope.
The most common issues I see are:
PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
Tragic or sudden loss of a loved one (through Suicide or a death which is sudden such as a heart attack)
Abuse, childhood neglect, physical or sexual assault or rape
Cancer, sudden and terminal illness
Once we have experienced trauma, our ability to manage stress can become compromised and little life stressors which once seemed so manageable can be very hard for us to deal with.
Here are the 10 major types of trauma explained:
Sexual assault involves any unwanted and involuntary sexual behaviour towards a person. The victim is forced or coerced engage in an act against their will in a non-consensual setting. Sexual assault can include rape, groping, forced kissing, and any other sort of harassment or abuse in a sexual context.
Neglect: Occurs when a parent or caregiver does not give a child the care he or she needs according to his or her age, even though the adult can afford to give that care or is offered help to give that care. Neglect can mean failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, mental health treatment, education, or proper supervision to a child or exposing a child to dangerous environments. Neglect is the most common form of abuse reported to child welfare authorities.
Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is causing or attempting to cause physical pain or injury. This includes punching, beating, kicking, burning, or harming a child in any way. Injury may also occur when a punishment is not appropriate for a child’s age or condition.
Sexual Abuse: Child sexual abuse includes a wide range of sexual behaviors that take place between a child and an adult. Alternatively, sexual abuse may take place between a child and another child/adolescent if force or manipulation is involved or if there is a five year age difference between the children. Behaviors that are sexually abusive often involve bodily contact, such as sexual kissing, touching, fondling of genitals, and intercourse. However, behaviors may be sexually abusive even if they do not involve contact, such as of genital exposure (“flashing”), verbal pressure for sex, and sexual exploitation such as pornography.
Emotional Abuse/Psychological Maltreatment: Acts against a child that caused or could have caused conduct, cognitive, affective or other mental disturbances, such as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, excessive demands on a child’s performance that may lead to negative self-image, and disturbed behavior. Acts of omission against a child, such as emotional neglect or intentional social deprivation, is also considered emotional abuse.
Early Childhood Trauma
Early childhood trauma generally refers to the traumatic experiences that occur to children aged 0-6.
Domestic violence is classified as actual or threatened physical violence, sexual violence, and/or emotional abuse between adults in an intimate relationship.
Refugee and War Zone Trauma: Exposure to war, political violence, or torture. Refugee trauma can be the result of living in a region affected by bombing, shooting, or looting, as well as forced displacement to a new home due to political reasons.
Terrorism: Any trauma in which there is an intent to inflict psychological or physical damage on an adversary, usually for political or religious reasons. Terrorism includes attacks by individuals acting in isolation (e.g., sniper attacks) as well as attacks by groups or people acting for groups.
Combat-related Trauma: Military personnel engaged in direct warfare may lead to psychological harm. Exposure to death and threats to life, and experience of fear or horror are common causes of combat-related trauma.
5. School Violence & Community Violence
School and community violence include predatory violence or personal conflicts between people who are not family members (e.g., shootings, rape, robbery) committed on public areas such as schools, community areas, workplaces and so on.
Bullying is a deliberate and unsolicited action that occurs with the intent of inflicting social, emotional, physical, and/or psychological harm to someone who often is perceived as being less powerful.
Children and adults may show traumatic reactions to medical conditions, invasive medical procedures, or treatments that are frightening or cause pain, injury, and/or serious illness.
7. Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Approximately 9% of women experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. Most often, this illness is caused by a real or perceived trauma during delivery or postpartum. These traumas could include:
Use of vacuum extractor or forceps to deliver the baby
Baby going to NICU
Feelings of powerlessness, poor communication and/or lack of support and reassurance during the delivery
Women who have experienced a previous trauma, such as rape or sexual abuse, are also at a higher risk for experiencing postpartum PTSD.
Women who have experienced a severe physical complication or injury related to pregnancy or childbirth, such as severe postpartum hemorrhage, unexpected hysterectomy, severe preeclampsia/eclampsia, perineal trauma (3rd or 4th degree tear), or cardiac disease.
Traumatic loss or grief can occur following a death of someone important to a child or adult. The death is typically sudden and unexpected.
Any natural catastrophe (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes) that causes enough damage that local, state, or federal agencies and disaster relief organizations are called into action.
10. Complex Trauma
Complex trauma describes both children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events—often of an invasive, interpersonal nature—and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure.
"PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.
It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger"., NIMH, 2019.
It is important to understand that you can be supported through these issues and although life might be difficult right now, it does not have to be that way forever. It might take some time, but with the right support, education, skills and tools you can learn to manage, control and overcome traumatic experiences in your life and help is here.
Teach Trauma, 2019
The national child trauma stress network, 2019
Postpartum support International