As someone who did experience trauma as a child, I was unaware and, often, would experience response in my body in threatening and, sometimes only seemingly, threatening saturations. Because I never connected that I had experienced trauma or even connected with what trauma was, I never associated what I was feeling in my body as a trauma response. I just remember having a pounding in my chest in these situations that did not feel good. Carrying unresolved trauma causes distress for self and also carries into our relationships. It is important, however, to be able to recognize trauma responses to see how one is “coping” day today. Listed are 5 trauma responses that one may experience if they have a trauma history:
Fight- Often there are feelings of hypervigilance and anger, sometimes rage. The theme is often protection and self- preservations and the need to keep the environment safe by controlling others.
Flight- I think of this as fleeing the scene with the goal of protection. Also, hypervigilance is seen here. One will retreat from what they sense as a dangerous situation.
Freeze – When faced with the perceived threat, they may freeze and cannot move at this moment. Socially, may feel overwhelmed and not always complete goals. Oftentimes, may try to keep busy as a way of avoiding conflict.
Fawn- Sometimes these people try to friend the offender to win their approval with hopes of changing their behavior. Often, they feel powerless and have low self-esteem. They may depend on others for help often. Characteristically people in this state, tend to be people-pleasers with poor ability to hold boundaries.
Do you see any of these characteristics in you? Awareness is the first step to change.