Trauma is not limited to individual, interpersonal interactions. In fact, it is not uncommon for communities as a whole to experience grief after an incident of community violence. This could occur on a local, community, or even national scope. In situations of community violence, people may experience the loss of their sense of safety, their trust in those who live in their neighborhood, or their trust in local government. The trauma and grief of community violence can be experienced by all involved, and it is important to take the impacts of this type of trauma seriously. Some examples include: acts of terrorism, mass shootings, and political disenfranchisement. (SAMHSA, 2014) 


These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, and both point to the phenomena of major traumatic events whose past or present manifestations continue to impact people alive today, even if the incident(s) occurred in the past. Historical trauma is the cumulative, multigenerational, collective experience of emotional and psychological injury in communities and in descendants (SAMHSA, 2014). Some examples include: enslavement of African Americans in the US, the Holocaust, Japanese American internment, and genocide against Native Americans.


Sexual and gender-based trauma encompasses acts which are directed at an individual based on their gender or sexuality. Often, this type of traumatic violence is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power, and harmful norms, and can include sexual, physical, mental, familial, and economic harm inflicted in public or in private (UNHCR, 2021). Some examples include: violence against trans individuals, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, familial and partner violence, human trafficking, and violence against LGBTQ+ people.


Any minoritized racial or ethnic group can experience racial trauma, as a result of direct and indirect occurrences of racial discrimination. Racial discrimination constituting traumatic stress occurs across a broad spectrum, inclusive of institutional, political, and interpersonal violence and oppression. While people of all racial identities can and do experience distress as a result of traumatic events stemming from racism, students of color are significantly more likely to experience re-traumatization due to resonance with personal experience and/or repeated exposure (NCTSN, 2017). Racial trauma can be a compounding force within groups who also experience the impacts of generational and historical trauma. Some examples include: police brutality against people of color, discriminatory policies and procedures in the workplace, invalidation of experiences of racism, and physical and emotional abuse.


Individuals may experience disaster- or conflict-based trauma from a single occurrence (natural disaster, loss of a loved one) or a prolonged occurrence (war, displacement, military service). Disaster- and conflict-based traumas may result in feelings of hypervigilance, anxiety, anger, guilt, loss of feelings of safety, loss of faith, feeling out of touch, or destabilized worldviews. Community resiliency, personal agency, and access to support can all contribute to recovery following these types of traumas (Rowell & Thomley, 2013). Some examples include: aftermath of natural disaster, loss of a partner or family member, displacement due to war, witnessing an act or accident of graphic violence, and loss of a home.


Trauma related to health and healthcare spans a wide variety of experiences. This form of trauma may manifest in individuals of any age, as a result of a life-threatening illness, onset of chronic condition, or a life-altering diagnoses. However, it may also occur as a result of critical lack of access to healthcare, or repeated negative treatment experiences with providers. Our institutions have a significant role to play in supporting ongoing healing and access for individuals who experience this type of trauma, especially to facilitate full participation in schools and the workplace. An important example is the post-COVID time ahead; acknowledging the long-lasting impacts experienced by many families and individuals as a result of this recent pandemic is crucial for our community wellbeing moving forward (ISTSS, 2020). Some other examples include: discrimination faced by trans and nonbinary individuals, lack of access to reproductive healthcare, physical and cognitive accessibility for students recovering from illness, compounding illnesses resulting from lack of access to healthcare.