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voices against violence

Common Reactions

Trauma is the physical and emotional reaction to a deeply stressful event. Traumatic experiences, such as interpersonal violence, can cause a wide range of responses. Though each person's experience is unique, the list below includes some common responses, both physical and psychological, that may occur after an experience of interpersonal violence. Survivors may have many different reactions both in the immediate aftermath of an experience of violence and over time, and there is no “right” or “wrong” reaction to trauma. Counseling and other supportive resources may be able to help survivors address these effects.

Common Physical Effects

  • Pain and soreness
  • Injuries
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Sleep pattern disturbances, insomnia or sleeping a lot
  • Loss of appetite or change in eating habits (over or under eating)

Common Psychological and Emotional Effects

  • Impaired memory
  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Irritability and anger
  • Sadness and grief
  • Social withdrawal
  • Numbing or apathy (detachment, loss of caring)
  • Overwhelming emotions
  • Hyper-vigilance (always "on guard") or feeling easily startled (“jumpy”)
  • Sleep disturbance (including nightmares)
  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Loss in trust in self or others
  • Guilt, shame, or embarrassment
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Diminished interest in activities or sex
  • Increased interest in sexual activity
  • Increased substance use or other coping strategies

Recommended Reading Resources:


Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists
Suzette Boon, Kathy Steele, & Onno van der Hart (2011)
This training manual for patients who have a trauma-related dissociative disorder includes short educational pieces, homework sheets, and exercises that address ways in which dissociation interferes with essential emotional and life skills and support inner communication and collaboration with dissociative parts of the personality.

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness
Peter Levine (2010)
In an Unspoken Voice is based on the idea that trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder, but rather an injury caused by fright, and loss that can be healed by engaging our innate capacity to self-regulate high states of arousal and intense emotions. Using case examples, the book blends biology, neuroscience, and body-oriented psychotherapy.

The Sexual Healing Journey
Wendy Maltz (2012)
The Sexual Healing Journey is a guide designed to help survivors of sexual abuse heal from the past, improve relationships, and discover the joys of sexual intimacy. Readers are taken through the recovery process, integrating expert advice with proven techniques, exercises, and first-person accounts of survivors at every stage of healing.

The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment
Babette Rothschild (2000)
The Body Remembers explores the psychophysiology of trauma and its impact on the body, including somatic memory. Intended for clinicians, survivors, and general readers interested in the impact of trauma

The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help You Deserve
Rheeda Walker (2020)
The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health explores Black mental health, the forces that have undermined mental health progress for African Americans, and strategies for practicing emotional wellness.

Web Resources

David Baldwin's Trauma Information Pages Resources

The National Center for PTSD

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network


The Mindfulness Coloring Book: Anti-Stress Art Therapy
Emma Farrarons (2015)
Coloring pages for mindfulness and alleviating stress.

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Sexual Violence
Dating and Relationship Violence
Safety Planning
Taking Care of Yourself
Reporting Options
Concerns Related to Identity
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