What is Childhood Trauma?
A traumatic event can be any event that is perceived by the individual as overwhelming and a threat to safety. Trauma is stored in the body and re-experieneced as post-traumatic stress when the experience of the trauma is not resolved--that is, when the child perceives that they are powerless to overcome it. Typical types of child trauma including community violence, bullying, disasters, complex trauma, medical trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse, refugee trauma, terrorism, violence, and traumatic grief.
What about an event that occurs in infancy?
Research shows that even infants are affected by and can remember events that threaten their sense of safety. A response such as PTSD following a traumatic event is not about the event itself, it is a result of the perception of powerlessness that was sensed by the infant. This could include sexual abuse, witnessing violence, physical neglect, or emotional abuse. But traumas also include unintentionally harmful events such as as a natural disaster, parental separation, witness to violence, or even medical interventions in infancy or early childhood.