Understanding Trauma and Abuse

What is trauma?

Trauma is a state of high arousal. It is an event or events in which a person is threatened or feels threatened. The experience of trauma overwhelms the person’s capacity to cope. Trauma also describes the impacts of the event or events.

Trauma is very common. People can experience trauma in lots of different situations. These include natural disasters such as floods or fires or droughts. Other traumas include witnessing or being involved in an accident, fighting in a war, or being betrayed, abused, neglected, bullied, exploited or assaulted. Trauma which occurs over and over between people (complex trauma) is especially common.

Different people experience different traumas differently. Certain experiences are traumatic for some people and not for others. The impacts of trauma depend on your age/s, your previous experience/s of trauma, how long the trauma lasts, how often it happens and how extreme it is. They also depend on your culture, background and the social context of your life.

It can be hard to understand the different terms used to describe trauma and abuse. If you have experiences of trauma understanding more can help because it can help you understand yourself better. It can also give you tools to support your recovery. Understanding more can also help the people around you, and who are supporting you, to better understand how to help you. We hope you find this information useful.

The following boxes explain the different terms you may hear to describe trauma and abuse. We hope this information helps you or a person you care about.

What is
Complex Trauma?

Learn about Complex Trauma

What is
Childhood Trauma?

Learn about Childhood Trauma

What is
Child Abuse?

Learn about Child Abuse

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