Why Trauma?

Trauma Statistics

Trauma affects a wide range of the human population. Trauma is defined as exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one of the following ways: direct experiencing, witnessing, learning about and/or repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of trauma events (APA, 2013).

  • The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence found that 66% had experienced multiple types of abuse, 30% experienced five or more types, and 10% experienced 11 or more types across their lifetimes (Turner, Finkelhor, & Ormrod, 2010).
  • Children who witness parental violence, also show deficits in abstract reasoning and executive functioning skills (Cook et al., 2005). These children develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at rates ranging from 20% to 63% (Kendall-Tackett, Williams, & Finkelhor, 1993; Spinazzola et al., 2005).
  • Up to 70% of sexually abused children meet partial or full criteria for PTSD (Wolfe, Sas, & Wekerle, 1993).
  • Over 60% of men and 50% of women reported exposure over their lifetimes to at least one event that meet the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (APA, 2013) definition of trauma.
  • 90% of urban young adults (ages 18-45) have been exposed to traumatic experiences
  • Community mental health clients have a 42% life-time prevalence rate of developing PTSD
  • General population: 10% of women and 5% of men develop PTSD
  • 9% of female rape victims develop PTSD
  • 7%-8% of general population will develop PTSD over lifetime; 5.2 million each year
  • 25%-35% of women and 10%-20% of males report retrospectively being sexually abused as children;
  • 10%-20% of males and females report physical abuse as a child;
  • 14%-20% of women are victims of sexual abuse;
  • 35%-70% female mental health clients report child sexual abuse;
  • 11-20% of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD (likely underreported)
  • About 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) Veterans have PTSD.
  • About 30% of Vietnam Veterans have PTSD.
  • Military sexual assault: 15% of women and 1% of men
  • Motor vehicle accidents: 19% to 23% of US population experience serious injuries and up to 45% experience PTSD

Who is at the greatest risk for developing PTSD upon exposure to traumatic stress?

  • Females
  • Being younger
  • African Americans and Hispanics
  • Individuals of lower socioeconomic status
  • Individuals with previous psychological problems and dysfunction
  • Individuals with sub-functional coping skills
  • Individuals with histories of family dysfunction
  • Individuals with genetic predisposition
  • Individuals with peri-traumatic stress/dissociation and persistent dissociation following trauma
    (Briere & Scott, 2014)