Interesting Facts & Tips
Did you know that the effects of a traumatic experience place a heavy burden on individuals, families, and communities?
Trauma has become a global epidemic, one that could be identified as a “World-Class Crisis”. Anyone can be traumatized. No one is immune from its deadly reach. Below is a list of how widespread trauma is throughout the world, affecting every part of the population:
Institutions and Organizations – can be negatively impacted when going through times of significant change or outside scrutiny (i.e. – downsizing, restructuring, inquiries). Individual staff members may become inadvertently traumatized as a result of this process and/or have their own trauma histories be triggered by the events if the process is not sensitively and compassionately handled.
Professional Service Providers – can be traumatized after hearing the stories and witnessing the suffering of trauma survivors. This is called “trauma exposure response” and happens when a provider is regularly confronted with traumatic content.
Cultures and Communities – negative events like 9/11 and COVID-19 impacted many communities and cultures through fear and panic.
Families – families can be traumatized by an event happening to one or more of its members. Even people who did not directly experience the trauma can be impacted by it, especially if they have a close relationship to the trauma survivor.
Individuals – people of all ages, social status, religion and sexual orientation can be profoundly affected.
Fight, Freeze & Flight
The fight or flight response is about survival and hope. We activate it when we believe there’s a chance we can outrun or outfight our attackers. The freeze response gets activated when there’s no hope.
The two branches of our autonomic nervous system (or ANS) work in harmony with each other to deal with the threats we face and then recover.
The sympathetic branch activates the fight or flight response, directing the heart to beat faster, the muscles to tense, the eyes to dilate and the mucous membranes to dry up. As a result, you can fight harder, run faster, see better and breathe easier. This process kicks in for real threats and imagined ones in as little as 1/20th of a second - less than the amount of time between two beats of the heart.
The parasympathetic branch activates the relaxation response. It tells the body, you can relax now - the danger has passed, no need to be on alert anymore.
Below is a partial list of the most common types of fight, flight and freeze responses. The list will help you gain a better understanding of the roles that each plays in the lives of victims and survivors.
- Hands in fists, desire to punch, rip
- Flexed/tight jaw, grinding teeth, snarl
- Fight in eyes, glaring, fight in voice
- Desire to stomp, kick, smash with legs, feet
- Feelings of anger/rage
- Homicidal/suicidal feelings
- Knotted stomach/nausea, burning stomach
- Metaphors like bombs, volcanoes erupting
- Restless legs, feet /numbness in legs
- Anxiety/shallow breathing
- Big/darting eyes
- Leg/foot movement
- Reported or observed fidgety-ness, restlessness, feeling trapped, tense
- Sense of running in life- one activity-next
- Excessive exercise
- Feeling stuck in some part of body
- Feeling cold/frozen, numb, pale skin
- Sense of stiffness, heaviness
- Holding breath/restricted breathing
- Sense of dread, heart pounding
- Decreased heart rate (can sometimes increase)
- Orientation to threat
THIS WEBSITE is not therapy or intended to be a replacement for therapy, medical advice or diagnosis, and you should never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Our purpose for this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge to the various coaching, consulting, education and training services that we provide.