Signs / characteristics

Generally speaking, traumatic experiences after a trauma are associated with certain surrounding characteristics and sensory perceptions.

Memories of the traumatic incident and the associated feelings may suddenly be reactivated by certain triggers (flashbacks). This is often experienced as overpowering and overwhelming, and may find expression in strong reactions or the victim feeling emotionally and physically numb. It often feels as if the violence is going to repeat itself in the present. It becomes difficult to differentiate between trauma memories and real situations.

Avoiding certain situations, places and people is often a strategy to avoid re-experiencing the events. This is no solution in the long-term because the associated anxiety symptoms and strong feelings of rage, sadness and shame remain unresolved.

The way a trauma takes effect depends on how strongly the person affected reacts to the experiences and how she can cope. General statements can thus hardly be made. Yet a sudden change in behaviour, such as isolating oneself from social relationships, irritability, permanent dejection or strong insecurity can be signs of a traumatising experience of violence.