Types of Trauma

What are major types of trauma?

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault involves any unwanted and involuntary sexual behavior towards a person. The victim is forced or coerced engage in an act against their will in a non-consensual setting. Sexual assault can include rape, groping, forced kissing, and any other sort of harassment or abuse in a sexual context.

Child Maltreatment

  • Neglect: Occurs when a parent or caregiver does not give a child the care he or she needs according to his or her age, even though the adult can afford to give that care or is offered help to give that care. Neglect can mean failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, mental health treatment, education, or proper supervision to a child or exposing a child to dangerous environments. Neglect is the most common form of abuse reported to child welfare authorities.
  • Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is causing or attempting to cause physical pain or injury. This includes punching, beating, kicking, burning, or harming a child in any way. Injury may also occur when a punishment is not appropriate for a child’s age or condition.
  • Sexual Abuse: Child sexual abuse includes a wide range of sexual behaviors that take place between a child and an adult. Alternatively, sexual abuse may take place between a child and another child/adolescent if force or manipulation is involved or if there is a five year age difference between the children. Behaviors that are sexually abusive often involve bodily contact, such as sexual kissing, touching, fondling of genitals, and intercourse. However, behaviors may be sexually abusive even if they do not involve contact, such as of genital exposure (“flashing”), verbal pressure for sex, and sexual exploitation such as pornography.
  • Emotional Abuse/Psychological Maltreatment: Acts against a child that caused or could have caused conduct, cognitive, affective or other mental disturbances, such as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, excessive demands on a child’s performance that may lead to negative self-image, and disturbed behavior. Acts of omission against a child, such as emotional neglect or intentional social deprivation, is also considered emotional abuse.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is classified as actual or threatened physical violence, sexual violence, and/or emotional abuse between adults in an intimate relationship.

War Related Trauma

  • Refugee and War Zone Trauma: Exposure to war, political violence, or torture. Refugee trauma can be the result of living in a region affected by bombing, shooting, or looting, as well as forced displacement to a new home due to political reasons.
  • Terrorism: Any trauma in which there is an intent to inflict psychological or physical damage on an adversary, usually for political or religious reasons. Terrorism includes attacks by individuals acting in isolation (e.g., sniper attacks) as well as attacks by groups or people acting for groups.
  • Combat-related Trauma: Military personnel engaged in direct warfare may lead to psychological harm. Exposure to death and threats to life, and experience of fear or horror are common causes of combat-related trauma.

School Violence & Community Violence

School and community violence include predatory violence or personal conflicts between people who are not family members (e.g., shootings, rape, robbery).

Medical Trauma

Children may show traumatic reactions to medical conditions, invasive medical procedures, or treatments that are frightening or cause pain, injury, and/or serious illness.

Traumatic Loss

Traumatic loss or grief can occur following a death of someone important to a child or adult. The death is typically sudden and unexpected.

Natural Disasters

Any natural catastrophe (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes) that causes enough damage that local, state, or federal agencies and disaster relief organizations are called into action.