Trauma, sexual trauma & counselling Essay

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Trauma, sexual trauma & counselling Essay

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• A strain we feel at different times/in different situations • Set of external forces impinging on the person (unemployment, crime, etc) • Set of psychological & physiological reactions (racing heart, sweating palms etc) • Can be opportunity for growth – The spark that pushes us into action • The extent to which an individual experiences stress depends on the event, together with the individual’s personality & ability to cope

Crises
• A normal reaction to a difficult experience an individual has not faced before • In crises a person feels – Confused, overwhelmed & unable to cope • Can be an external event, or an internal one caused by development • A turning point – An opportunity to learn skills, find resources & adapt

Trauma
Trauma Definitions
• “Situations in which the victim is rendered powerless and great danger is involved” “Profound deviation from normal life experience”
THUS sudden, overwhelming, unanticipated, suggests threat of injury or death. experience – fear, helplessness, loss of control & extreme powerlessness • Traumatic events – extraordinary

– overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life
– generally involve threats to life or bodily integrity, or a close personal encounter with
violence or death.
• Most notable characteristic:
the feelings of helplessness & terror that victims are left to deal with.

4
The Effects of Trauma
• Trauma overtaxes the ability to cope
• Can damage mental health
• Traumatised people feel & act as though their nervous systems have been disconnected from the present:
– Persistent expectation of danger
– Imprint of the traumatic event that does not fade
– Numbing response of giving up that becomes generalised.
• Psychologically & mentally, trauma refers to:
– wounding of emotions, will to live
– beliefs about the self & the world
– dignity and sense of self & security
• Impacts normal ways of thinking & feeling, so previous coping mechanisms to handle stress is no longer functional.
• Victim feels like a thing, a vulnerable object, subject to the will of a power/force greater than themselves

Different Kinds of Traumas
• Natural disasters(flood, fire, hurricane, etc)
• Man-made catastrophes(war, terrorism, bus disasters, etc) • Unintentional violence(car accidents, culpable homicide) • Intentional violence (forms of victimisation involving threat to life, health & limb)

• Trauma caused by nature → Disaster
Trauma caused by humans → Atrocity

Direct vs Indirect Trauma
• Indirect trauma – affects those exposed to or witnessing the traumatic event
– symptoms of indirect victims can be identical to those of direct victims
– family of the victim, those in helping profession, children in domestic violence situations • Can be a victim of direct & indirect trauma at the same time – witnessing a rape/murder while being held hostage.

Single vs Multiple Trauma
• Trauma can be a single event, or multiple events (being hijacked more than once) Continuous vs Complex Trauma
• Continuous Traumatic stress:
– Situations in which people are exposed to ongoing trauma
– Residents of areas with high levels of violent crime
– Repeated exposure to violent situations
– Develop a numbing response to additional traumatic events, making it difficult to detect they are traumatised
– Can seem lethargic or depressed, don’t understand what is going on & so don’t seek assistance • Complex Trauma:
– Situations in which victims experience prolonged, repeated traumatic events
– Usually there is a relationship between the victim & offender
– Victim is under control of offender, and cannot escape for an extended period
– First trauma is unexpected, but over time the victim awaits further incidents with enormous
psychological tension
– Eg marital rape or child sexual abuse

Conclusion
• People respond differently – One person’s “stressful event” can be another person’s “trauma”
All are relative to how individuals react to situations
• A hypothetical continuum plots stress, crises & trauma, plotting the increase in intensity • In practice it can be difficult to draw distinctions, the client’s definition should always be used

1.2 DEFINING SEXUAL TRAUMA
• Sexual trauma is:
– Trauma of a sexual nature
– The trauma creates emotional turmoil for the survivor
– May impair the survivor’s functioning in certain areas (self-esteem, relationships & sexuality)
– Problems may manifest much later, when the survivor develops understanding of the wrongness of the
activities they participated in,
given that participation may even have been passive.

9
1.2.1 Rape and Child Sexual Abuse
• 1 in 4 children in SA are sexually abused at some time
• Just as many boys as girls under age 10 are sexually abused • 80% of offenders are well known to, and trusted by, their victims • There has been a significant increase in young offenders (


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