We anticipate that almost everyone who visits Survive Personal Abuse has experienced at least one traumatic situation which required survival-level coping adaptations during their lifetime. These adaptions often continue to affect life in the present, even if the trauma is no longer in progress.
WHAT IS TRAUMA: “Trauma is not a new concept. However, until recently, it has largely been viewed to be applicable to only a select group of individuals, under extraordinary circumstances — for example, survivors of catastrophic events such as war, earthquakes, and abduction. With notable exceptions, trauma has not been recognized as a part of the daily, regular, experience of many individuals, including children and adolescents.” (Responding to childhood trauma: the promise and practice of trauma informed care, Gordon R. Hodas MD, 2006, p5).
This assumption turns out not to be true. Trauma is an experience or situation that overwhelms the individual’s readily available adaptive resources. It demands mobilization of every survival instinct available and affects biology, mental functioning, and emotional states. It is a “do or die” situation from the perspective of the person experiencing it. This response to trauma is a kind of stress often called “survival mode.” Among other variables, it is age and resource-dependent: what is overwhelming for a preschooler might be much less so for a teenager.
“Research literature has identified three factors that universally lead to survival anxiety level stress: uncertainty, lack of information, and loss of control.”
“What do all stressors have in common? Ultimately they all represent the absence of something that the organism perceives as necessary for survival — or its threatened loss. The threatened loss of food supply is a major stressor. So is — for human beings — the threatened loss of love. ‘It may be said without hesitation,’ Hans Selye wrote, ‘that for man the most important stressors are emotional.'” (Maté, When the Body Says No)
What brings people to this web resource is the experience of domestic violence as a child, as an adult, or both. All of the universal stress factors described above are present in domestic violence. Here are a few examples of how they might be experienced:
Uncertainty: What violent, shaming, or abusive thing will happen next? Who will be singled out?
Lack of information: Is this really happening? Will anyone believe me? Who will help me? How will I protect/support myself and my children?
Loss of control: I am becoming numb, hopeless, trapped. Nothing I do is working, no one is listening to me. I could lose my life.
What Does Being Trauma-Informed Mean?
Being trauma-informed means that all of us who participate in producing this resource:
- Are familiar with how trauma affects human beings.
- Seek to provide an online environment that feels safe and empowering to everyone. We purposely include male as well as female readers, include every gender identity, and keep our information free from racial, ethnic, economic, or religious bias.
- Moderate and block comments to make sure judgmental, offensive, or biased input never appears.
- Anticipate that readers may re-experience fearful situations or reminders that make them unable to fully engage. We invite you to leave the site when you’ve “had enough”. We will be here for you when you feel comfortable returning.
- Understand that safety and healing looks different for different people, and we support your way of doing things. We do not advocate for an approved course of action. You know what’s best for you.