Understanding Trauma
Trauma is the direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or the threat of death or injury of another person such as a child or family member. The person’s response to the event normally includes intense fear, helplessness, or horror. The external threat overwhelms a person’s ability to utilize her internal and external positive coping resources (American Psychiatric Association 2000; Bloom and Fallot 2009).

Effects of abuse-related trauma

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Common responses to abuse-related trauma
  • Self-harm
  • Panic attacks
  • Fearing relationships and the male population in general
  • Flashbacks of violence
  • Depression
  • Night terrors
  • Memory lapses
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sleeping disorders (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep or over sleeping)
  • Substance misuse and other addictions (gambling, shopping, etc.)

How mental health and primary service providers can offer trauma-informed services
Regardless of the sector in which I work, my role as a service provider is to provide a trauma-informed approach that includes:

  1. Universally screening for domestic violence to ensure that an appropriate case management plan is developed.
  2. Recognizing the signs of abuse that go beyond the physical forms, such as emotional, cultural, financial, and spiritual violence.
  3. Building rapport with my client by using non-judgmental language when seeking information or clarification.
  4. Educating women about the relationship between abuse-related trauma and its impact on their mental and physical health.
  5. Providing a safe and non-judgmental environment while my client attempts to navigate her own healing journey.
  6. Creating a power balance in order to help female victims take charge of their own lives.
  7. Connecting women to various programs such as outreach services, transition houses, and other related services.
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Toolkit for responding to trauma-related abuse

A guide for addictions, mental health and primary care professionals
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