Trauma and 'bad experiences': Not a sign of weakness

Trauma is when something happens that makes you think you may die or be seriously injured. It is also when something happens and you think a person that you love or depend on may die or be seriously injured.

This can be an accident; rape; abuse; domestic violence (victim and witnesses); robbery; hijacking; kidnapping; torture; traumatic death; natural disaster or watching (witnessing) a terrible event

The first response to trauma is usually a physical reaction. This is also a survival response. You may fight; flee (run away) or freeze (body does not move) in order to protect yourself. You may also feel shaken – both emotionally and physically - after a traumatic event.

Responses that you may feel after a traumatic event

  • Distress (body getting worked up easily)
  • Shock
  • Flashbacks (seeing the event in your mind over and over when you don't want to)
  • Being irritable
  • Feeling very jumpy
  • Nightmares (usually about the event)
  • Feeling scared
  • Having poor concentration (daydreaming in class)
  • Feeling like danger can happen all the time
  • Feeling nervous and avoiding anything that reminds you of the event
  • Not spending time with friends and family

Trauma often destroys your ideas of what you knew and of what you considered safe. It is very hard to makes sense of why traumatic events happen. Sometimes we try to fill in the gaps through imagining what might have, should have or could have happened. These imagined scenarios can be as hard to deal with as the actual event.

Not everyone needs counselling or help immediately after a traumatic event happens. You might have scary nightmares for a few days/weeks and then cope fine. If you get “stuck” with the trauma reactions for more than a month after the event, then you need to get help. But remember that trauma is NOT a sign of weakness!

You can get help

If you can’t cope speak to a healthcare worker at your local clinic or call:
  • Childline on 08000 555 55
  • Lifeline on 0861 322 322

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