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What is Trauma?

Having nightmares and waking up with cold sweats while recalling a past experience you had? Do you struggle with attachment in intimate relationships or friendships? Ever had a frightening reaction to something unconsciously like a touch or certain words? These experiences among many others similar indicate that you’re probably experiencing signs of trauma.

Trauma is defined as the damage done to one’s mind and well-being after having experienced, listened to or witnessed a distressing and/or violent event. Trauma does not look the same for everyone. Some examples of violent experiences that could evoke trauma include experiencing war or gang violence, child abuse, racial microaggressions, sexual assault, police brutality, or even forceful separation whether through child welfare or immigration. Trauma can also be experienced by an individual when hearing about events such as those noted above or those similar, although they have not experienced or witnessed it physically. An example is people who may feel traumatized or experience feelings of anxiety when hearing about events such as the 911 Terrorist attack, mass shootings, war stories or even stories about gang violence.

Oppressive environments- i.e. restrictive and hostile environments preventing people, often in violent ways, from engaging in authentic cultural and/or self-development, subsequently influencing self-defeating behaviors- are environments that initiate trauma for many people and cultural groups. Oppression and consequential trauma often produce or aggravate mental disorders or mental distress including depression, schizoaffective disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia post-traumatic stress disorder and more.

One of the most significant forms of trauma is intergenerational trauma. Intergenerational or multi-generational trauma is trauma that has been unresolved and transmitted through generations usually through survival parenting practices, epigenetics (trauma leaving a chemical mark on genes that are transmitted to offspring), stories about the trauma or problematic behaviours as a result of the trauma. Intergenerational trauma is usually seen in the children of the parents or even communities who have been traumatized such as Indigenous communities via Residential Schools and the Sixties Scoop, families and communities who have experienced war, genocides or gang violence, Jewish families and the Holocaust or African Diaspora families and slavery, segregation, intergenerational anti-Black racism and violence. 

Healing from trauma is not an easy task and can be quite difficult to do on your own. If you feel that you have experienced some form of trauma and feel that you want to begin your healing journey, book an appointment today to begin this healing process.