There isn’t a “type” of person who gets traumatized.
There isn’t a “type” of person who is more vulnerable than others to abuse or neglect.
Trauma is an equal opportunity predator.
There are factors that put us more at risk— but they rarely have to do with who WE are.
They often have to do with where we happen to be, economically or culturally— but there’s nothing about YOU, as a person, nothing about YOUR personality or character, that “invites” abuse, neglect, or other trauma.
Your brain might tell you that having been traumatized is about you, personally, but it’s not.
You didn’t ask for it, you didn’t want it, you didn’t “make” it happen.
Trauma doesn’t happen to a particular “type” of person…but we tend to become a certain “type” of person in the aftermath of trauma.
We often tend to be anxious.
We often tend to blame ourselves.
We often tend to be avoidant— not because we’re not tough or brave, but because what we’ve experienced was so overwhelming, we don’t know how to engage with it and remain functional.
All of those qualities might be expressed differently by different people— but many people who have been through trauma experience their version of them.
We’re at a point where we know a reasonable amount about how trauma impacts the human nervous system.
We know that certain patters emerge when humans are subjected to traumatic stress— and we know some things about how different types of stress tend to affect humans, even as diverse as we humans are.
And still, for as much as we’re learning about trauma and its effects, there are people out there who minimize the impact of traumatic stress on humans.
There are people out there who hang on to this fantasy that “trauma” is a made up word that people use to try to gain sympathy.
There are people who think that the increasing awareness of trauma is a BAD thing— that it encourages people to see themselves as “victims.”
I can assure you, those of us who care about trauma recovery don’t want anyone to view themselves as a “victim,” if that label does not help them understand their experience or move forward.
I find it’s helpful to remind myself that trauma can happen to anyone.
It happens to people who don’t deserve it— every single day.
The hand we were dealt was not our choice.
We may have made decisions that seemed to make our lives better or worse— but even in those decisions are frequently not as “free” as we assume.
It’s real easy to slip into self blame.
Toxic shame tries to push and bully us into self blame a lot.
Trauma doesn’t happen to a “type” of person, but in its aftermath we frequently become the “type” of person who struggles to NOT blame themselves, who struggle to NOT hold ourselves to impossible standards, who struggles to be fair and compassionate and present with ourselves.
If we DON’T want to be that “type” of person, it’s on us to NOT be.
All of which starts with awareness.
We need to realistically, straightforwardly ask: what is trauma doing to my experience of me? To my beliefs about myself?
We may not like the answers.
But even so we have to stand with ourselves in compassion and self-trust.
ALL of which is easier said than done.