Trauma is a widespread, harmful and costly public health problem. It occurs as a result of violence, traumatic experiences, abuse, neglect, loss, disaster, war and other emotionally harmful experiences. Traumatic exposure cuts across age groups, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, geography and sexual orientation. Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional or spiritual well-being.
Exposure to traumatic events in the lives of women such as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), rape and other forms of sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, terrorism, natural disasters, and street violence, all predispose affected individuals to poor health outcomes in part through high risk behaviors such as smoking, drinking, illicit drug use, and risky sex, as means to cope with trauma. As a function of both engaging in high risk behaviors and the trauma itself, survivors are at increased risk of poor physical and mental health outcomes.
Recognizing the substantial prevalence of traumatic exposure and that the impact on health and well-being is dramatically underestimated, health and social service providers are gradually recognizing the value of adopting Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) principles into their practice.