Sadness, abdominal pain, nightmares. You’ve experienced something upsetting, such as an accident, violence or a death. You think about it a lot, even though you don't want to. It is difficult for you to talk about it and you keep reliving it in your thoughts. You get very sad when you think about what happened and you often can't sleep because of this. It’s also difficult to focus and you get very angry from time to time. You can’t get the bad thoughts out of your head. 

What is trauma?

If you have experienced something bad in your life, you can continue to have problems related to it. It may be that you were personally involved in the experience or that you witnessed it. Examples include an accident or disaster, the death of someone you knew, suffering abuse or witnessing violence. It may be that you get a bad feeling immediately after the event occurred, but it is also possible that you only notice this later on. A distinction is often made between two types of trauma:

  1. Something bad happened once that you didn’t see coming. Example: a car accident.
  2. Something has happened frequently and you know that it can happen again. Example: (sexual) abuse or domestic violence.

Problems you may experience: 

  • You continue to relive the event in your head, even if you don't want to
  • You don’t want to be reminded of the event, so, for example, you walk the long way around in order to avoid a particular place.
  • Having difficulty falling asleep or having nightmares
  • Not being able to concentrate properly
  • Being sad
  • Abdominal pain or headache
  • Nasty feeling and bad thoughts
  • Being frightened 

What causes trauma?

Not everyone who has experienced something bad continues to suffer from it for a long time. It is normal for everyone not to be themselves for a while. Researchers can’t say exactly why one person suffers a lot more or a lot longer from a bad experience than another person. It depends on how bad the experience was, how often it happened and how much support you get from people around you.

How common is trauma?

Child abuse is fairly common in the Netherlands. A specific figure cannot be named because it is difficult for many children to talk about it or tell someone that they have experienced it. However, it is very important that you talk with someone about it so that you can be helped. You aren’t the only one.

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