How to Tell If Someone Has Unhealed Trauma

People come into our lives at many different times. For those with whom we haven’t shared nearly every waking moment, there is a personal history that we haven’t been party to. Our friends and loved ones may keep secrets from us about painful times in the past. If we suspect that someone we care about has unhealed trauma, is there anything we can do to help? The answer is, “Yes!” Here are some signals that someone you love might be dealing with unhealed trauma and could be in need of professional counseling and the support of friends.

  1. Known History – We share things about ourselves all the time, including sometimes the hard things, like being sexually assaulted or in an abusive relationship, having lived through a difficult car accident – maybe one in which others were severely injured or killed, and other traumatic events. Over time, our relationship with these events changes. We might have been OK with the past until our child becomes the same age we were when the traumatic event took place or we hear news of a similar event in the next town over. Our relationship to our past changes. If you see this happening in your loved one, ask them to talk about it.


  1. Avoidance – A lot of the time, people who have been through trauma just don’t want to talk about it. If your friend or family member never wants to talk about trains, constantly avoids walking through parks, or like in the movie Thelma and Louise, can’t set foot in the State of Texas, there is possibly a traumatic event underlying that fear. We can’t always avoid the traumatic triggers in our lives. Again, ask your friend about this fear and see what s/he tells you.


  1. Constant Access to a Weapon – While there is a population that believes in being armed, most people who are not in law enforcement or military-type jobs do not carry a weapon with them all or most of the time. Does your loved one sleep with a knife, gun, or baseball bat? Did s/he suddenly get a concealed weapon permit? If your loved one is carrying a weapon and there is not a clear reason why, it could mean that old trauma is rearing its ugly head.

You are not powerless against the up-swell of trauma in a loved one’s life. Be willing to listen and encourage professional treatment. Trauma can keep a lifetime hold on a person, but it doesn’t have to.



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