All of us have experienced some form of trauma in our lives – from schoolyard bullying to moments we wish hadn’t happened when we were giving a speech, for example. But some of us have experienced worse things – sexual assault, physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, etc.

Many people who have been through a natural disaster, for instance, develop traumatic symptoms. How we perceive what has happened to us is where the trauma lies. If we are in a car accident that is non-life threatening but our perception is that we could have died, we may develop traumatic symptoms.

10 Types of Trauma Defined

The following definitions of 10 types of trauma will help you understand what trauma is and recognize whether you have experienced it.

1. Sexual Assault or Abuse

Sexual assault or abuse is any unwanted or involuntary sexual behavior toward another person. It can include, but is not limited to: fondling, genital contact, penetration, groping, forced kissing, and/or exposure to inappropriate sexual material or environments. For example, a father who walks around naked in front of his adolescent daughters, or anyone who has been exposed unwillingly to sexually explicit materials in the form of magazines or internet porn.

It can also include unwanted sexual contact between minors or exploitation of someone through online sites (texting a naked picture of a young girl to others, for example), and sexually exploiting a minor child by an adult for sexual gratification – child pornography, prostitution, etc.

2. Physical Assault or Abuse

Physical assault or abuse is any infliction of pain upon another – for example, beatings with fist, belts, with or without weapons, bruising, stabbing, shooting, burning, etc. This includes individuals who inflict pain on children, or groups of children who attack a child. It does not include normal sibling rivalry or rough play between children or adults of similar age.

3. Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is verbal abuse such as insults or threats of violence, bullying, terrorizing or controlling behaviors. It can also include excessive demands put on an individual that they cannot meet; gaslighting (a form of emotional abuse designed to make the person feel crazy), and emotional neglect designed to make the victim afraid of abandonment, such as refusing to talk or make eye contact.

4. Neglect

Neglect is failure to give someone the care they need such as food, clothing, medical care or medications, or shelter. It is commonly reported to child welfare authorities, but can happen to anyone of any age. Withholding of anything someone needs for their health or welfare when the caregiver is able to give it is considered neglect.

5. Domestic Violence

Domestic violence includes actual or threatened physical violence, sexual violence, and/or emotional abuse between adults in intimate relationships. It also includes those who are witness to domestic violence as well and helpless to intervene – children in a home where the parents are abusive to each other is an example.

6. Serious Accidents or Illness

Serious accidents or illness includes such things as car accidents, fires, or serious injury due to accidents. Medical procedures that are painful or frightening fall into this category as well. Children particularly can be afraid of treatments that cause pain, injury, etc.

7. War-related Trauma

We have all become familiar with the term post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This can occur when someone has returned from a war zone where they experienced threats to life and other experiences of horror.

We also see it in refugees and war zones where people affected are not in combat. Bombings, shootings, and forced removal from their homes are all traumatic. In case after case, families are forced to move from everything they have always known because of war or escalating tensions.

8. Natural or Manmade Disasters

Natural or manmade disasters include major accidents or disasters (e.g. the recent mudslide in Washington State that killed people and destroyed homes), earthquakes, wild fires, and other disasters caused by nature or manmade disasters.

9. School Violence

School violence is becoming more and more common, when people with weapons come onto school property to kill and maim others.

10. Bullying and Workplace Mobbing

Bullying occurs in childhood with aggressive negative behavior by a child or group of children that involves a power imbalance. Workplace mobbing happens in the workplace and is considered “bullying on steroids.” The bully enlists co-workers to “collude in a relentless campaign of psychological terror against a hapless target” (refer to Bullying at Work: Workplace Mobbing is on the Rise by Sophie Henshaw). Targets in these cases are usually well-educated, competent, and resilient, and tend to be women.

Christian Counseling for Trauma Recovery

As shown above, there are all types of traumatic situations that can result in the victim experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Fortunately, there is hope for these victims. There are several methods of therapy that help with various types of trauma. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is available to help individuals who have experienced any of the types of trauma listed above.

If you have experienced any of these types of trauma, I can help. I am a Christian with many years of experience in working with trauma and EMDR therapy, and I know that it works.


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