Identifying the Signs of Trauma

Identifying the Signs of Trauma

Content Warning: This article deals with sensitive subject matter around the topic of sexual abuse.

 

When someone you know has suffered from trauma, it can be hard to see the signs. All experiences are different, and the way people react to difficult events comes in many forms. There are, however, some common signs of trauma and abuse that we can all be aware of. Just as we are taught to notice the symptoms of an allergic reaction or broken bones, becoming more aware of abuse indicators can lead to earlier intervention and have a huge impact on those around us who are suffering.

There are many sources of trauma that can have scarring physiological impacts and can even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some of the most common sources are domestic violence, sexual assault, natural disasters, severe illness or injury, the death of a loved one, and witnessing an act of violence.

Symptoms of trauma generally fall into two categories: physical and emotional. Common physical signs of trauma include paleness, fatigue, poor concentration and a racing heartbeat, potentially leading to anxiety and panic attacks. Common emotional symptoms include denial, anger and sadness. These can be quite difficult for a loved one to deal with, as they are often redirected to others and can take the form of emotional outbursts. It may seem counterintuitive to offer support and understanding when it seems as though you are being pushed away. Recognition of these signs as part and parcel of the trauma can lead to a greater understanding of stronger relationships.

If you are worried that someone you know may be suffering from domestic abuse, notice if the following signs are apparent. They range widely and include chronic agitation, a constant state of alertness, a sense of hopelessness, feeling paralyzed by fear to make decisions, headaches, gastrointestinal symptoms, chronic pain, inability to sleep, genital soreness and pelvic pain.

The Assaulted Women’s Helpline is available 24/7 and provides easy-to-read, straightforward information including definitions of consent, and what it means to be in a healthy relationship. They also offer health and legal resources, workshops, and more.

It is important that we all become conscious of these signs and symptoms. Each of us plays an important role in building a safer society. The greater our awareness, the more prepared we will be to help others and ourselves.

 

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