It can be incredibly difficult to know how to respond to learning that a friend or partner has experienced a traumatic event. Please use the following resources to learn how to be a supportive friend or partner.

Common Reactions to Trauma

Survivors of traumatic events may exhibit a range of emotional, physical, and mental reactions - or may have no reaction at all. It is imperative to understand that each person will respond and react to the trauma in a different way. As a friend or partner, you are a good judge of what emotions and behaviors are common for your friend or partner. If your friend or partner begins to act in an atypical manner for no apparent reason, do not be afraid to ask directly what is wrong. You may be the first person to respond to your friend or partner.

Regardless of how long ago the traumatic event occurred, your friend or partner may experience some or all of the following:

• Fear • Anger • Sadness • Rage • Guilt • Embarrassment • Depression • Helplessness • Isolation • Tension • Anxiety • Numbness • Confusion •

• Denial • Hyper-vigilance • Inability to concentrate • Intrusive memories of the trauma • Change in eating and sleeping habits • 

• Increased alcohol consumption or use of substances • Avoidance of loved ones or activities that were enjoyable prior to the trauma •

• Lack of trust • Need to regain control • Nightmares or flashbacks of the incident • Insomnia • Increase or decrease in sexual activity • 

• Low self-esteem • Extreme paranoia • Suicidal thoughts • The need to escape or forget • Eating disorders • Nausea • Diarrhea •

• Muscle-tension • Trouble breathing • Gynecological problems • Andrological Problems • Headaches • Panic attacks • 



Content used with permission from the University of Virginia, 2018