What is trauma

Since the beginning of history, we have sought to be loved, safe, and happy.

Sadly, we live in a world where, sooner or later, we all experience hurt, harm, and death.

Trauma is the result of events that emotionally overwhelm us and our capacity to cope. They are unbearable and intolerable experiences. Trauma leaves a lasting impact on how we feel, think, act, and relate.

Trauma is not so much about what happens to us in the outer world as what happens inside us, in our inner world, as a response to a traumatic event. The impact of traumatic events differs between different people.

Neglect, abuse, or violence, whether physical, emotional, or sexual, often results in trauma.

Other traumatic events are accidents, natural disasters, war, or something negative happening to someone we know.

Research indicates that 70% of us experience at least one traumatic event in our lifetime. It happens to family members, friends, neighbors, classmates, and colleagues.

Trauma does not end when the traumatic event ends. Although it’s no longer happening in our outer world, it continues in our inner world. We may relive it in memories, dreams, and flashbacks. We may live with constant stress. We are on the lookout for threats and danger. We feel that something bad could happen at any time. And we're easily triggered. The world feels like an unsafe place, and life becomes about how to survive.

The effects of trauma may endure for weeks, months, years, and even decades. They affect how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we see the world. Trauma may become the glasses through which we see, experience, and interpret everything.

People who have survived trauma often blame themselves for being weak, for being failures, think it was their fault they couldn't protect themselves or others, and may even feel responsible for what happened. Often, they have a deep sense of guilt and shame. They may think they are worthless, wrong, and damaged.

If you are suffering from trauma, you may need to tell yourself, “I am not bad. But I struggle because something bad happened to me."

It is possible to overcome trauma. But the traumatized mind and body need time to recover. It takes time to rebuild a sense of safety, confidence in oneself, and trust in others. But it is possible 

We cannot change what happened in the past. But we can change how the past impacts us and our lives. Life for a trauma survivor may be challenging, but there is hope.

In the next videos, we’ll explore the symptoms of trauma.

Reminded.org is a project of Adventist Health Ministries.

© 2024 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904-6601 USA +1-301-680-6000