Misconceptions

Survivors can’t want or enjoy sex after being assaulted.

False. Some survivors may become sex-repulsed due to trauma. There are others that may experience hypersexuality, or even a combination of the both. Some survivors may not notice a change at all after trauma. Every survivor is different, and making assumptions like this may make ones that deal differently feel “broken” or “wrong.”   Telling survivors they can't enjoy consensual sex after being sexually assaulted is like telling someone they can't enjoy shopping/willingly spending money after having money stolen from them.

If it was really that bad, survivors wouldn’t be able to talk about what happened.

False. A lot of survivors find it therapeutic to talk about their trauma. Silencing survivors and creating a stigma about it makes survivors more likely to feel ashamed. The more survivors who talk about it, the better. It helps to raise awareness, and encourages other survivors to speak out.  That said, no survivor is obligated to talk about it, and even if they do talk about it with someone they trust, they may not be comfortable sharing it openly.  It's not okay to force survivors to discuss their trauma.

Trauma is rare.

False.  At least 50% of people experience at least one trauma in their lives.  

 

You can tell who’s a survivor by looking at them.

False. You probably know at least one survivor. There is no way of knowing who they are unless they tell you.  This is why it’s important to be thoughtful about what you say because you never know if someone who’s listening might be a survivor.

Only soldiers get PTSD.

False.  People can develop PTSD after all kinds of trauma, including car accidents, rape, abuse, serious illness, or natural disasters.

Trauma only affects the weak.

False. Traumatic events can happen to anyone.  People's responses to trauma are affected by many factors, including genetics, coping skills, social support, and the nature of the traumatic event(s).

You can only have trauma after you've had "serious" things happen to you.  "I can't have trauma because someone else who had it worse than me doesn't seem/isn't traumatized".

False.  You can't tell from looking at someone if they're traumatized or not.  They may have been traumatized in the past but may have healed and moved on.  There's no "normal" reaction to any kind of event.  Everyone reacts differently.  Whether something is traumatic is about both what happened as well as the context in which it happened.  Pre-existing stress, lack of coping skills, or lack of support after a negative event can make something much more traumatic to you than it would be to someone who is in a much more stable and supported point in their life.

People who experience real trauma always remember exact details of the events.  People who don't remember things or remember some things incorrectly are faking it.

False. 

Symptoms of trauma always show up right after the event, people who are fine right after the event and develop symptoms later are faking it.

False. There is no time limit for when symptoms may show up. It can even take years for symptoms of PTSD to show up. 

Trauma is "just in your head"/isn't "real".

False.  Trauma creates neurological changes that can be seen on brain scans.  It also causes significant physiological changes, increasing the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other conditions.

Everyone experiences the same symptoms after trauma.

False.  People have wildly different reactions to trauma depending on their coping skills, support network, genetic factors, and what else is happening in their life.  Some people develop PTSD, cPTSD, or BPD after trauma, others don't.  Even for people who develop one of those conditions after trauma, the specific symptoms they struggle with can be very different from other people who have the same condition.

Trauma always gives people strong negative feelings.  If people feel numb instead of sad, scared, or angry after trauma, they're faking it.

False.  People have all kinds of reactions to trauma.  Some many feel numb initially and then start feeling other emotions.  Others may have an initial emotional reaction and then feel numb later.  Numbness is a normal response to trauma - it's the brain's way of protecting people from distress.

She/he/they asked for it. 
False! See post on victim blaming.

More Info About Trauma

Trauma

Flashbacks

Trauma Reactions

Trauma Responses