There are two main types of trauma:
A traumatic event is an incident that causes physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm. The person experiencing the distressing event may feel threatened, anxious, or frightened as a result. In some cases, they may not know how to respond or may be in denial about the effect such an event has had.
Examples of events which might result in trauma include accidents, death of a loved one, rape, rejection, witnessing a distressing event.
If the traumatic event is not too overwhelming, people can often recover with the compassionate support of family and friends. For some people, the trauma caused by a single event does not go away and can develop into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For many people, the trauma caused by a single event can be successfully treated with a short course of counselling/therapy with a skilled practitioner.
Complex trauma describes children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events—often of an invasive, interpersonal nature which may go on over many years—and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure, often present well into adulthood and impacting hugely on people’s lives.
These traumatic events are severe and pervasive, such as sexual and psychological abuse or profound neglect. They usually (but not always) occur early in life and can disrupt many aspects of the child’s development and the formation of a sense of self.
Since these events often occur with a caregiver, or with someone known to the family, they interfere with the child’s ability to form a secure attachment. Many aspects of a child’s healthy physical and mental development rely on an early childhood source of safety and stability. So, when it is missing, the person can be badly affected for a long time. In later life, complex trauma can be created through being in abusive relationships, such as one where there is coercive control and physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
At Survivors Unite we believe and have evidence, that people can and do recover from complex trauma. This can take substantial time and commitment. There are various therapies and counselling traditions that can help. Flexible and longer-term support is important.
Our services are client-led, free, and we offer flexible support comprising peer support, counselling, and a facilitated support group. Contact us if you would like support or if you want to know more.