Having a traumatic experience or witnessing extraordinarily stressful events can have a profound impact on our psychological and emotional well-being. If you’ve ever felt that your life or safety has been put at risk, it can shatter your sense of security and make you feel helpless.
The important thing to remember is that there are many different causes of trauma. It’s not the circumstance or event in itself that signals trauma, but what your emotional experience was of the event. Not everyone will react to the same event in the same way – for example, some people would find falling from a height traumatic, while others choose to jump out of planes for fun. The more frightened or helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatised.
Trauma affects people in different ways and, for some, the symptoms take weeks, months or even years to surface. Regardless of its source, an emotional trauma contains three common elements:
- it was unexpected
- the person was unprepared
- there was nothing the person could do to prevent it from happening