Trauma and Abuse
Symptoms of PTSD

What is Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

Trauma is a deeply distressing experience that shatters basic assumptions such as “the world is safe,” “people are good,” or “I am in control”. Usually, traumatic experiences are considered outside the scope of “everyday human experiences.” However, this definition is problematic as many people are in ongoing traumatic situations and their trauma experience becomes everyday (this does not mean it is not traumatic).

A traumatic event can be a single experience or a series of experiences that involve a real or perceived threat to life, bodily integrity, or sanity. Often people report feeling helplessness in a traumatic experience. A traumatic event overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. And, it is important to note that it is an individual’s personal experience that determines whether an experience is traumatic or not, not just the “objective facts” of the event.  Not everyone experiencing the same event will be traumatized or impacted in the same way.

There are multiple types of trauma including the following:

Early Childhood Trauma

Childhood Neglect

Physical Abuse

Sexual Abuse or Violence

Psychological or Emotional Abuse

Domestic Violence

Community Violence

Refugee and War Zone Trauma

Natural Disasters


Multi-Generational or Historical Trauma


Common mental health symptoms as a result of trauma:

—Trouble Thinking Clearly and Communicating

Difficulty Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

—Body/Physical Issues or Sexual Challenges

—Repeated Dangerous Patterns of Behavior

—Difficulty with Trust

Social Alienation

Low Self-Esteem

Difficulty Managing Feelings

Substance Abuse


Resources on Trauma and Abuse

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network 

Child Trauma Academy 

The National Institute on Trauma - coping with traumatic events 

The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute