The Persistent Nature of Trauma on Women's Health

A dreadful occurrence, such as an accident, being raped, or a natural catastrophe, may cause an emotional reaction known as trauma. In the moments immediately after an occurrence, shock and denial are common responses. In the longer term, effects might include unexpected emotions, memories, strained relationships, and even physical problems such as headaches or nausea. Despite the fact that these emotions are quite natural, some individuals have a hard time moving on with their life. These people may benefit from the assistance of psychologists in identifying healthy coping mechanisms for their negative feelings.

In their study from 2001, Banyard, Williams, and Siegel investigated the connection between sexual abuse in childhood and mental illness in adulthood. In this third-level longitudinal research on sexual abuse in childhood, there were 174 female participants. Participants reported having experienced extra- traumatic events both in childhood and as adults. The literature sheds light on the persistent nature of trauma for those who have survived sexual assault.

Apprehensive arousal, melancholy, dissociation, sexual anxieties, intrusions, avoidance, and diminished self-reference are other trauma exposures investigated in Banyard et al.'s (2001) study.

The study suggests that anxious arousal and a lack of self-esteem are the results of the sexual abuse of children. After taking into account the effects of other sources of stress, it demonstrated the direct repercussions of childhood sexual abuse (Banyard et al., 2001). Children's sense of their own and others' safety is impacted when they are sexually abused as children. According to this body of study, victims suffer from a loss of emotional control and a lack of confidence in others (Cintora & Laurent, 2020). Sexual abuse in childhood has been shown to have adverse effects on adult mental health and adult relationships.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) refers to any abuse in a romantic relationship, whether physical, emotional, or sexual. Cintora and Laurent (2020) examine the effect of childhood trauma on the vulnerability to IPV as well as the fact that women who have experienced trauma are more likely to develop illnesses. This study took a longitudinal look at mothers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. In a study that was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress in 2020, Cintora and Laurent investigated women three to eighteen months after giving birth who had experienced childhood maltreatment that resulted in interpersonal trauma. Cintora and Laurent (2020) concur with the findings of Banyard et al. (2001) that abuse in childhood heightens the harmful effects of intimate partner violence (IPV). Dissociation, nightmares, flashbacks, inability to sleep, sadness, anxiety, problems with interpersonal relationships, and sexual dysfunction are some of the consequences. Intimate partner violence (IPV) typically affects women in the postpartum period. Alterations in their bodies, emotions, communities, and economies often make their illnesses worse. In addition, IPV victims had higher postpartum mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, risky behaviors, psychosis, and subconscious disorders. This was because IPV victims experienced more trauma after childbirth.

Researchers at Booth et al. (2011) found a correlation between rape and substance abuse, and sexual interactions among female veterans. A total of 1,004 female veterans from the Midwest were questioned over the phone about demographics, a history of rape, substance abuse, depression, and PTSD. Thirty-three percent had Substance Use Disorder (SUD), 50 percent reported being raped, 25 percent mentioned being raped while serving in the military, and 11 percent acknowledged having sex with females. According to the study's findings, rape victims had a lifetime SUD prevalence rate of 64 percent. In addition, more rapes and substance use disorders were reported among same-sex women.

The effects of experimental pain on sensory, emotional, physiological, and neuroendocrine responses are discussed by Hood and Badour (2020). In this study, 87 participants had PTSD or did not have it. To provide an example of emotional disclosure, some women detailed a traumatic experience. After that, they conducted some pain tests. Pain sensitivity was reduced in women with PTSD, whereas an increased pain detection time was observed. According to the findings of this study, PTSD symptoms may make women who have been exposed to trauma more sensitive to pain.

The literature sheds light on the persistent nature of trauma for those who have survived sexual assault. Children's sense of their own and others' safety is impacted when they are sexually abused as children. Sexual abuse in childhood has been shown to have adverse effects on adult mental health and relationships. Intimate partner violence typically affects women in the postpartum period. Alterations in their bodies, emotions, communities, and economies often make their illnesses worse. Cintora and Laurent (2020) found that abuse in childhood heightens the harmful effects of IPV.

What does research say about the impact of therapy?

Research shows that treatment successfully improves patients’ despair and anxiety and accompanying symptoms—such as pain, exhaustion and nausea. Therapy has also been discovered to enhance survival time for cardiac surgery and cancer patients, and it may have a good influence on the body’s immune system. Research increasingly supports the premise that emotional and physical health are extremely closely related and that treatment may enhance a person’s overall health state.

There is compelling evidence that most persons who receive at least few sessions of treatment are significantly better off than untreated individuals with emotional disorders. One large research indicated that 50 percent of patients visibly improved after eight sessions whereas 75 percent of those in treatment benefited by the end of six months. Children's psychotherapy is effective like adult therapy.Where can I look for a good therapist or counselor to work with?

Where can I locate a therapist?

Choosing a counselor is a very personal decision that requires careful consideration. It's possible that a counselor who does an excellent job with one client wouldn't be the best fit for someone else. It is possible to get recommendations to skilled counselors via a variety of channels, including the following:

  • Talk to those who are close to you in the family as well as close friends to get their advice, particularly if they have had success with therapy in the past. 
  • A significant number of state psychological organizations provide referral systems that connect clients with mental health professionals who are both licensed and qualified in their field. 
  • You should inquire about receiving a recommendation from your primary care physician (or another qualified health professional). When selecting a psychologist, it is crucial to communicate your priorities to your primary care physician so that he or she may provide sound recommendations

Your best case scenario is that you will wind up with many leads. 


Banyard, V. L., Williams, L. M., & Siegel, J. A. (2001). The long-term mental health consequences of Child sexual abuse: An exploratory study of the impact of multiple traumas in a sample of women. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 14(4), 697–715. https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1013085904337

Booth, B. M., Mengeling, M., Torner, J., & Sadler, A. G. (2011). Rape, sex partnership, and Substance Use Consequences in women veterans. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(3), 287–294. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.20643

Cintora, P., & Laurent, H. K. (2020). Childhood trauma exposure exacerbates the impact of concurrent exposure to intimate partner violence on women's posttraumatic symptoms. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 33(6), 1102–1110. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22545 

Hood, C. O., & Badour, C. L. (2020). The effects of posttraumatic stress and trauma-focused disclosure on experimental pain sensitivity among trauma-exposed women. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 33(6), 1071–1081. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22571 

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