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Trauma Awareness

Trauma can be defined as experiences that overwhelm an individual’s capacity to cope. This can include trauma early in life, including child abuse, neglect, and witnessing violence as well as later traumatic experiences such as violence, accidents, natural disaster, sexual assault and rape, war, refugee experiences, sudden unexpected loss and other life events that are out of one’s control. Trauma can also result from poverty, having a life-threatening illness, intergenerational events, and grief and loss. Trauma can involve a single event or multiple experiences. As well, a similar event or experience might be experienced as traumatic for one person but not for another. People respond to trauma differently. Substance use, depression, and anxiety are very common responses to experiences of trauma and violence, and are differentially experienced by women and men, transgender and gender-diverse people. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one specific type of response to trauma. It is a psychiatric diagnosis based on an individual experiencing symptoms from three “symptom clusters” including intrusive recollections, avoidant/numbing symptoms, and hyper-arousal symptoms.