What Is Trauma?
Trauma comes from the Greek word for “wound”. Just as we sometimes say that the physical body has sustained trauma, for example, if we have been injured in a car crash, the subtle tissues of our minds and emotions can also be wounded.
Psychological trauma is defined as a lingering experience of intense mental, emotional, and physical distress. Trauma from past events gets triggered when we encounter situations resembling the conditions in which we were first wounded. Trauma is periodically re-experienced as flashbacks of specific frightening situations, and also as ongoing feelings of terrible dread.
The experience of trauma is intense and uncomfortable and feels like fear energies (anxiety, panic, dread, obsession, a need to be in control) anger energies (irritability, rage, depression, aggravation, impatience), and numbing or spacing out energies (floating away, checking out, dissociating).
These three components of the trauma experience, fear, anger, and numbing, correlate to the body’s three main natural biological responses to survival threats – flight, fight, and freeze.
It’s important to understand that trauma happens when the body isn’t able to recover from a shocking, intense experience. It is normal and biologically okay to experience temporary anger, fear, and immobilization during a life-threatening moment. In a healthy body and nervous system, we might be scared, angry, or frozen in feelings of helplessness for a short period of time, but then these states dissolve away.
If terror, dread, rage, and helplessness become permanent or recurring episodic emotional states, this is a sign that we have been traumatized and need help healing from the impacts of events in our lives. Holistic residential treatment can be a valuable resource for individuals seeking support in overcoming and managing the effects of trauma.
Are Women More at Risk of Experiencing More Trauma?
It appears so, yes. Each person is unique and therefore traumatization happens differently to different people depending on how a person’s nervous system processes overwhelming events. A sensitive nervous system in combination with frequent and/or too-intense exposure to threatening situations will often result in some form of traumatization.
The meaning we make of the experiences we have is highly personal and depends on many factors including our unique personality and genetic make-up, which is why children with different temperaments may have different degrees of trauma even when they grow up in essentially the same conditions.
Trauma exists on a scale, and in severe cases, we have the classic archetype of the veteran with PTSD, who was so damaged by exposure to the horrors of warfare that they are psychologically shattered.
However, we do not have to have been exposed to combat to be wounded psychologically. Many conditions that are common to many of us may be traumatizing to us. Common sources of trauma are the death of a parent, neglect or abuse (including verbal), sexual abuse or too-early sexual experiences, alcoholic households, poverty, and living in a country at war.
A key reason that women are more at risk of traumatization than others is because of the higher incidence of sexual trauma, including childhood sexual abuse, assault, and rape. Women also experience considerable pressure to comply with sexual situations which may be classed as more subtle, and are typically groomed by society to ignore their own bodily sense of yes or no. For women who use substances, there can be traumatization due to participation in sex that they wouldn’t have chosen to be part of if not under the influence.
The Connection of Emotional Distress and Trauma in Young Women
There is a link between emotional distress and trauma. Trauma creates a background environment of fear, anger, and numbing, the three biological responses to life-threatening situations.
Most mental health disorders can be looked at through the trauma lens for extra understanding. Anxiety disorders are about the experience of fear. Depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm are related to anger (turned inwards), and all addictions are connected to the biological drive towards numbing.
Women are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, emotional instability, low self-esteem, and self-harm. These kinds of suffering match women’s greater vulnerability to traumatization.
What Does a Trauma-Informed Treatment Approach Look Like?
Taking a trauma-informed treatment approach means understanding how symptoms are connected to a root cause of deep unsafety at the biological and nervous system levels.
It is important to understand this factor before, for example, prescribing solutions aimed at lessening the impacts of a symptom. Symptoms are uncomfortable, but they are messages from deeper levels of a person’s being, and these deeper levels should be addressed if you want a long-term cure.
Understanding mental health disorders and especially addiction in light of the likely presence of traumatization is an enormous help. It makes sense why certain behaviors, dysfunctional as they may seem at first when viewed only on the surface, are actually in place.
When we understand why a person has felt it was helpful or necessary for their survival for them to behave in a certain way, or think certain distressing thoughts over and over again, we can begin to unravel the Gordian knot of mental health and addiction trouble. Trauma treatment, rooted in this understanding, becomes a crucial aspect of addressing the underlying issues.
Trauma-informed approaches to therapy are exceedingly gentle, compassionate, and kind. They work with us at the very most basic and tender levels and are focused on creating feelings of safety and basic OK-ness in this world, first and foremost. They work with the principle that when we are at last able to feel sufficiently all right in our own skin again, we will naturally have no need for coping mechanisms that cause us harm in the long run.
Villa Kali Ma Can Assist With Trauma Therapy for Women in California
Villa Kali Ma places high value on addressing trauma alongside addiction and mental health problems. We take a kind and comprehensive approach to getting at those deep levels and layers of being that are most tender and sensitive and which have been most hurt by the slings and arrows of this world.
You don’t need to have grown up in a traumatic environment to have sustained traumatic patterning in your soul. Suppose you are wounded at the psychological level. In that case, it will affect every aspect of your experience, including your capacity for joy, loving and connected relationships, creativity, career, physical health, and spirituality.
That’s why we offer trauma therapies like EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, and Parts Work, to help you repair and restore at the deepest levels of your biology, knowing these core changes in your experience will have transformational effects on the rest of your behaviors and choices.