Traumatic Stress

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Acute Trauma: A single traumatic event that is limited in time. An earthquake, dog bite, or motor vehicle accident are all examples of acute traumas (Child Welfare Committee (CWC)/National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) 2008, p. 6).

Chronic Trauma: The experience of multiple traumatic events either singly or in combination.  For example, living in an unsafe environment as a result of poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, or abuse or witnessing violence.  

Complex Trauma: “The traumatic stress field has adopted the term ‘Complex Trauma’ to describe the experience of multiple and/or chronic and prolonged, developmentally adverse traumatic events, most often of an interpersonal nature (e.g., sexual or physical abuse, war, community violence) and early-life onset. These exposures often occur within the child’s caregiving system and include physical, emotional, and educational neglect and child maltreatment beginning in early childhood.”  (van der Kolk, 2005)