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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines trauma as involving “actual or threatened death or serious injury,” such as assault, disasters, abuse, or life-threatening illnesses. It is generally of time-limited duration.*

Whereas, complex traumatic events and experiences as stressors that are: (1) repetitive, prolonged, or cumulative (2) most often interpersonal, involving direct harm, exploitation, and maltreatment including neglect, abandonment, or antipathy by primary caregivers or other ostensibly responsible adults, and (3) often occur at developmentally vulnerable times in the victim's life, especially in early childhood or adolescence, but can also occur later in life and in conditions of vulnerability associated with disability, disempowerment, dependency, age, infirmity, and others.**



* ​The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V

**Dr. Christine Courtois, Understanding Complex Trauma, Complex Reactions, and Treatment Approaches

Myths vs. Facts

  • Only war veterans get PTSD

  • If you’re strong, you can make it through the trauma by yourself

  • It's not that serious, you should be able to just use self-control

  • Trauma is a life sentence

  • In the United States, 61 percent of men and 51 percent of women report exposure to at least one lifetime traumatic event, and 90 percent of clients in public behavioral health care settings have experienced trauma.

  •  If trauma goes unaddressed often develop poor physical health outcomes and ignoring trauma can hinder recovery.

  • There are almost 40,000 trauma-related homicide and suicide deaths each year in the US.

  • Contrary to popular opinion, experiencing growth after trauma is far more common than PTSD. 

Downloadable Resources

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