Trauma is a response to a stressful, intense, scary or upsetting event or situation. Each person’s experience is unique, some people experience the effects of trauma soon after the traumatic event but others might not experience them until later.
Trauma affects everyone differently. Some common responses include:
Being ‘on-edge’ or ‘jumpy’
Avoidance – avoiding things that remind you of the trauma (people, places or objects)
Feeling emotional, upset or irritable
Suicidal thoughts or feelings
Physical feelings – feeling sick, sweating or shaking
Self-harm or urges to self-harm
Alcohol or drug misuse
The 5 Fs
Most of us have heard the terms ‘fight or flight’ referring to our body’s automatic reactions to fear and danger. But there are actually 5 common responses.
Fight – physically and verbally fighting
Flight – putting distance between you and danger
Freeze – feeling unable to move, staying still. This is a common reaction to sexual abuse, freezing is not giving consent. It is your body’s instinctive survival response to keep you from further harm
Flop – similar to freezing, except your muscles become loose and your body goes floppy. Your body does this to reduce the physical pain of what is happening.
Friend – calling for help and/or ‘befriending’ the person. For example negotiating, bribing or pleading with them.
TheSurvivorsTrust have a section dedicated to Trauma. This section looks at how the body and mind react to traumatic experiences, what the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) look like and contains a toolkit of coping mechanisms and support services that may help you if you are experiencing symptoms of trauma.