Trauma has many facets

Many descriptions of trauma include: Acute, Chronic, or Complex.

Acute trauma results from a single incident. Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged, such as domestic violence, racial trauma, or sexual abuse. Complex trauma is exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature. There is an increasing body of evidence that complex trauma may create layer upon layer of harm. Think of scar tissue that doesn’t heal.

The following are not specific diagnoses, but types of trauma that may bring someone to mental health treatment. Often, these are overlapping and cumulative.

*Financial trauma: food insecurity, becoming unhoused, eviction, juggling bills, bankruptcy, debt harassment, constant worry about finances, and social judgment regarding financial status

*Intimate partner violence: domestic abuse includes direct physical threats and aggression, sexual coercion, threats of perceived or actual violence to children or companion animals, throwing away someone’s personal possessions, frequent criticism and verbal abuse, and controlling or prohibiting friendships and social interactions of the partner.

More recently, this form of trauma can include the use of technology to control another person. For example, controlling the use of Wi-Fi, violating privacy by going through someone’s cell phone or laptop, using a smart phone to control the thermostat/lights/ movement detectors, and even changing passwords, codes, or locks; these are all forms of abuse.

*Religious trauma: descriptions of a person as a sinner; scenarios depicting a punitive afterlife or deity; cult-like indoctrination, use of religious practice to attempt to convert or change somebody’s personal being or beliefs,forced participation in organized religious activities; shunning or exclusion; or the opposite, minimizing or denying somebody’s religious or spiritual preferences.

*Relational trauma: ghosting, causing a rift or splits in a friend group, malicious gossip, threats of abandonment, rejection, gaslighting, and triangulation (aligning with another person or people to gang up).

*Bullying: 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. Being bullied is associated with symptoms of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and school refusal.

*Vicarious trauma: trauma that generally results from work in fields such as medicine, mental health, hospice, first responder, and law where the person is exposed to frequent information regarding suffering or violence to others.

*Refugee trauma: displacement from a perceived home or community due to persecution, including political, war, religious, imprisonment, or out-group status (castes). This trauma can continue or be compounded in a new environment, where refugees may not be welcome or even criminalized.

*Natural disasters: exposure to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, tsunamis, and floods, as well as extreme weather events such as blizzards, droughts, extreme heat, and wind storms. This type of trauma often overlaps with becoming unhoused, financially displaced, or physically injured.

*Medical trauma: life-threatening medical problems, chronic illness, chronic pain, multiple invasive surgeries, congenital conditions, or recurrent symptoms/relapses. A large body of research indicates that infants or children who are exposed to multiple medical procedures, chronic pain, or surgeries, may experience long-term or lifelong symptoms.

Also see Racial Trauma and Mental Health and Trauma is Not a Life Lesson.

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