Are there bigger and smaller traumas?


(If you prefer to watch the video version, jump to the bottom of the page).

Many people I work with, and maybe this happened to you as well, often doubt whether their trauma responses are justified because their experiences “were not that bad after all”.

So let’s talk about this: are there bigger traumas, and smaller traumas?

If you remember what we discussed in the previous weeks, what trauma really is is not an event itself, as much as our response to that event. (You can read that article or watch the video here)

Keeping that in mind, we start to see the profiles of an answer.

Bet me give you an example: if there are two kids victims of sexual abuse, one of which is physically abused, while the other one is shown inappropriate things, which one do you think will be the most traumatised?

Now remember that what gives birth to trauma, is any event that undermines our faith in life and our sense of safety.

In the two scenarios we have, if the first kid that gets physically abused sees the intervention of another caretaker that takes him aways from the dangerous environment and takes wonderful care of him, the sense of safety of this kid might not be severely damaged.

On the other hand, the kid that is "only" shown inappropriate material but has no one to turn to for help and protection, might very likely feel alone in the world.

For this child, the sense of safety might be very well compromised.

In conclusion, every trauma response is so specific to the circumstances, and the internal resources of every individual, that we cannot establish a priori which ones are bigger traumas, and which ones are smaller.

The point I wanted to make is that your feelings are always valid.

While we shouldn't compare ourselves and our experiences to the one of other people, this is even more true for trauma.

Ultimately, if the consequences are impacting you right now, you deserve all the love, care and attention that you need, regardless.

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