Single Event

A trauma can be a one-time/single event as in a car accident, a natural disaster and even a sexual assault. This is an event that occurs one time that might be considered exceptional circumstances.

Prolonged Family Violence

Trauma can also include prolonged family violence which could involve: physical, sexual and emotional abuse within the family context. It can also involve witnessing violence in the home between caregivers. In addition, and what is often overlooked as having a significant impact is the experience of childhood neglect. There is research to suggest that psychological abuse is also highly correlated to adult depression (Bifulco et. al, 2002).



Trauma can also be the direct result of colonization/historical. Colonization has been defined as “a process whereby one group of peoples assumes control over another group of people” (Blue Quills First Nations, 2011). Historical trauma has been defined as “a collective complex trauma inflicted on a group of people who share a specific group identity or affiliation- ethnicity, nationality and religious affiliation. It is the legacy of numerous traumatic events a community experiences over generations and encompasses the psychological and social responses to such events” (Evans-Campbell, 2008). In Canada the legacy of colonization and historical trauma involved the use of residential schools and separating children from their parents, communities and cultures. This could also include genocide that countries such as Rwanda and Dafur have experienced. In addition the Holocaust would be another example of a historical trauma.


The experience of war is also identifiable as a traumatic event. For some people they are born into a culture where war is the only existence and context they and perhaps the previous generation has known. In addition to those who are sent into war as soldiers and military personnel.

"Everyone has a right to have a present and future that are not completely dominated and dictated by the past" - Karen Saakvitne