If you have experienced abuse – childhood sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault or domestic abuse – at any time in your life, this can be physically and emotionally traumatic.

Everyone is different and we all respond to events in our lives in our own way. If you have experienced trauma repeatedly over a long time, or it has got worse, then you might have more extreme responses. Sometimes we try not to think about what has happened to us because we feel ashamed or guilty or angry. Locking away these feelings can sometimes make it difficult for us to respond to others, or to understand how the trauma has affected us.

Some effects of trauma can include:

Physical Reactions

  • aches and pains like headaches, backaches, stomach aches
  • sudden sweating and/or heart palpitations (fluttering)
  • changes in sleep patterns, appetite, interest in sex
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • easily startled by noises or unexpected touch
  • more susceptible to colds and illnesses
  • increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • overeating or undereating

Emotional Reactions

  • shock and disbelief
  • fear and/or anxiety
  • grief, disorientation, denial
  • hyper-alertness or hypervigilance
  • irritability, restlessness, outbursts of anger or rage
  • emotional swings — like crying and then laughing
  • worrying or ruminating — intrusive thoughts of the trauma
  • nightmares
  • flashbacks — feeling like the trauma is happening now
  • feelings of helplessness, panic, feeling out of control
  • increased need to control everyday experiences
  • minimizing the experience
  • attempts to avoid anything associated with trauma
  • tendency to isolate oneself
  • feelings of detachment
  • concern over burdening others with problems
  • emotional numbing or restricted range of feelings
  • difficulty trusting and/or feelings of betrayal
  • difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • feelings of self-blame and/or survivor guilt
  • shame
  • diminished interest in everyday activities or depression
  • unpleasant past memories resurfacing
  • loss of a sense of order or fairness in the world; expectation of doom and fear of the future

These are all perfectly normal responses to abnormal events and do not mean you are going mad. Many people feel better simply with the support of family or friends. If you don’t want to speak to someone you know, you may feel better if you seek help to understand the symptoms you are having and how best to manage them. You can speak to someone confidentially about how the events have affected you. You do not have to explain what has happened – just how you are feeling.


  • EVA Services, based in NHS Lanarkshire (currently available to women living in Lanarkshire or NHS Lanarkshire staff) – 01236 707 767 (Line open Monday – Friday, 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.)  ask a health professional to refer you.  EVA Services Website: 
    (EVA can help and support you if you are a woman experiencing abuse.  They have specialist counselling and psychology services for women who have experienced trauma at any time in their lives)
  • Speak to your GP about counselling, or a referral to psychology or psychiatry.
  • Lanarkshire Rape Crisis: 01698 527003 (Monday/Wednesday 1.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m., Tuesday/Thursday 6.00 p.m. – 8.30 p.m., Friday 10.30 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.), LRCC will talk to any woman or girl who has had an unwanted sexual experience. Please also check the website for up to date contact details
  • Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline: 08088 01 03 02 (daily, 6.00 p.m. to midnight)
  • Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 027 1234 (24 hour, confidential, free from landlines – mobile costs may vary)

Related posts:

  1. I feel different
  2. Being Aware of Your Sexuality
  3. Sexual Feelings