We hear about traumatic events all the time – we see stories in the news and on the Internet, or we hear about traumatic events from friends and acquaintances. But few of us consider the possibility that we may be affected by trauma, either directly through something that happens to us or indirectly through something that happens to a loved one. Yet statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that it’s not a matter of if trauma will occur in our lives, but when. For example, did you know that
- one in five women have been raped in their lifetime
- one in four Americans grow up with alcoholic relatives
- one in three couples engage in physical violence
These statistics, along with others regarding the prevalence of physical and sexual abuse, are alarming. Trauma is much more prevalent than we might think. Other life events such as witnessing a loved one’s death, experiencing serious health challenges, or being bullied can also be traumatic. In short, trauma affects everyone.
The same way we might see a bruise after a nasty fall, experiencing a traumatic event can leave emotional or health-related scars. Those who have not learned to be resilient in the face of trauma or who do not know how to cope with it effectively in the moment may experience depression, anxiety, emotional withdrawal and other effects of trauma.
Looking for the Signs: Sarah’s Story
Sarah, a 17-year-old girl, experienced a traumatic event at the age of 14. For three years, she suffered immensely and her behavior changed dramatically. She emotionally withdrew from her family, began spending time with friends she normally would not have spent time with, and engaged in high-risk behaviors like sexual promiscuity and drug use. Bethany knew these choices were negatively affecting her and her family, but she did not know a healthier way to cope with the trauma she’d experienced. Knowing the effects of trauma can help you look for signs in your teen’s behavior that she may be affected by trauma. If she seems emotionally detached, or she is experiencing depression and/or anxiety or engaging in high-risk behaviors, it’s possible she’s been affected by trauma and she’s unsure how to cope. If you suspect this is the case, we’re here to help. Contact us at 435-900-7753 to find out how we can help you and your teen. Trauma affects everyone, but we can learn how to build resilience and cope in healthy ways. Article illustration used a photo by James Cridland