Any situation that affects you in profoundly negative ways can be considered trauma. Trauma can range from upsetting events that are one time or recurring like accidents or violence, to more subtle causes like poverty, discrimination, and racism.1

Abuse is any behavior from another person or group that makes you feel mistreated or violated in any way. Abuse is a type of trauma. Abuse can be:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Emotional
  • Financial2

You can be abused by a stranger, or by someone very close to you. If you are being abused, it is not your fault. No one deserves to be abused.

Effects of Trauma and Abuse

Trauma and abuse can have long-lasting effects on your mental and even physical health.3

Trauma and abuse can lead to:

  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health problems like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-harm
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Chronic health conditions like diabetes or heart disease3

Trauma and abuse can produce a negative cycle: people who are abused may become abusers themselves, which creates more trauma.

Coping with Trauma and Abuse

After a trauma, focusing on your emotional and physical health is key. Think about the healthy habits you had before your trauma, or times when you felt balanced and grounded and try to recreate those patterns.4 Therapy is also an important part of the healing process, so find out what resources are available to you.

If you are being abused, find support from a person or organization you can trust. Make a plan to safeguard your wellbeing. You are not alone. Search out hotlines, support groups, or others who have experienced the same kind of abuse you are going through so you can gather the tools you need to safely remove yourself from harm.2


  1. Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice
  2. National Network to End Domestic Violence
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  4. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network