Facts, Tips and Resources to help you help others.

Psychological Needs Disrupted by Trauma

  1. Safety – A person who has experienced trauma loses a sense of the world being a safe, secure place. They feel more vulnerable in the world and may be more fearful in general about their overall safety.

  2. Trust (Trust in self) – A person who has experienced a trauma loses trust in their own ability to make good judgments about others.

    (Trust in others) – A survivor of trauma does not trust others.

  3. Esteem (Self-esteem) – As a result of trauma, the survivor may have a negative sense of self-esteem. They may become very self-critical, hurt themselves, and avoid looking at themselves in the mirror or take care of themselves.

    (Other Esteem) – The survivor may idealize others who they see as stronger or more talented or may degrade and devalue others or simply ignore them.

  4. Intimacy (Self-intimacy) – In order to block pain, survivors of trauma may block their innermost feelings and thoughts.

    (Other Intimacy) – An awareness of human cruelty can lead to avoiding closeness with others in order to avoid further disappointment, hurt, or loss.

  5. Control (Self-control) – Having experienced a trauma, a survivor may feel helpless and unable to take control of their lives, to direct their future, to express their feelings, or to act freely in the world.

    (Other Control) – A survivor may surrender control of their lives to others, give up any sense of an ability to lead others or influence others.

What Can I Do to Help?
(Be creative)

To help child feel safe:

  • Ask them what will make them feel safe.
  • Tell your child you will protect them.
  • Give them a teddy bear or some symbol of comfort.

To help child trust again:

  • Demonstrate that your child has support and people who they can trust. Help them identify them.
  • Explain that though some can’t be trusted there are many good people.

To help child gain self-esteem:

  • Give them jobs/projects to do that will help them to gain confidence.
  • Praise your child often.
  • Ask them what would make them feel good about themselves.

To help child open-up and be capable of intimacy:

  • Tell them what feelings are and give them examples.
  • Model good communication skills and honesty.
  • Acknowledge the thoughts and feelings they express.

To help child feel that they have some control over their lives:

  • Give children coping ideas to protect themselves (What to look for/ whom to go to/ how to respond to demands, etc.)
  • Ask them what they want and help them to get it. (If reasonable.)
  • Show them that they do have control in their lives.
  • Point out times when they did control their lives. (Like having the offender and the abuse identified.)