Trauma is complicated, layered and often cumulative in nature. It may stem from medical/health diagnosis and procedures, accidents, robbery, war as well as natural disasters, or it can be inflicted on us by another human being. This includes incidents of harm on our person or body, including domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying, abandonment and physical neglect. Importantly, even the perception of threat may be adequate in causing a traumatic reaction to develop. Simply put, trauma occurs when we or our survival become threatened, or when the circumstances we face cause our survival instincts to come online.
"After all, when a stone is dropped into a pond, the water continues quivering even after the stone has sunk to the bottom."
Trauma from Familial Circumstances
Trauma also includes psychological and emotional injury. This means that in the past, we may have felt unable to fully express our needs, or at times we felt unseen or unheard. Perhaps our fears as children were misunderstood or we were not adequately soothed. It could be that our early environments were marked by a sense of instability, or our caregivers were ill equipped to meet our needs because of their own trauma. Such circumstances can create beliefs about who we are and the world; beliefs which inform our identity and way of being, having long lasting effects on the way we relate and connect to ourselves and others.
Trauma as a Result of Social Location
Trauma also intersects and can be intergenerational, cultural, and spiritual. Living under adverse circumstances such as poverty, can be complicated by a family history of physical illness or overprotective care giving. Living under safe familial circumstances can be complicated by a history of mental illness, cultural expectations, divorce or the death of a loved one. Lack of safety in the world may also manifest as a result of homophobia or racism. In sum, we cannot predict our reaction to life’s struggles, and therefore, we cannot predict what will or will not culminate in trauma.