Common Reactions to Trauma

Everyone reacts to trauma, but there is no one way trauma looks. Below are common reactions to traumatizing experiences, which can include experiences of sexual violence, dating or domestic violence, stalking, or harassment.

Physical Symptoms

• Fatigue, changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns

• Headaches, sweating, shortness of breath, muscle tension

• Pain in areas that might have been hurt during the trauma even if they have healed

Emotional Reactions

• Feeling anxious, fearful, angry, irritable and/or out of control

• Feeling sad, alone, hopeless , suicidal and/or numb to any emotion

• Self-doubt, self-blame, loss of confidence or self-esteem


• Increased absenteeism, deteriorating school/work performance

• Difficulty concentrating, attending or remembering things

• Overly focused

Social Relationships & Interactions

• Not wanting or unable to be touched or engage in sexual activity

• Distrust of others, needing to be in control of relationships

• Withdrawing from others, feeling rejected or abandoned

Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms

• Intrusive memories, reliving the event as though it is happening

• Avoiding thoughts, feelings, location and/or activities associated with the traumatic event/situation

• Heightened awareness to environment, increased startle response

It is important to keep in mind that there is no standard timeline when it comes to recovering from trauma; everyone recovers at their own pace.

Additionally, healing or recovering from trauma doesn't always follow a linear path. There may be periods of time where things are more challenging that alternate with periods where little to no impact is felt. This is normal.

In spite of the harm that trauma can cause, people do recover and feel better.

Some even eventually choose to work to advocate for victims of trauma down the road.