Christian Stress Release

What is Trauma (Pt. 3) – Types of Trauma (2 of 2)

While trauma is a collective psychological wound from the hard things you’ve lived through in life, there are different types of trauma that you can carry. Today we’re discussing the remaining 2 of these.

Today we’re continuing our series on Trauma by finishing our discussion on the different types of trauma.


This series is here to help you understand what trauma is, what the signs and symptoms are, and how and why God created you in a way that includes trauma. We’ll cover the basics of this mental health dysfunction, all the way into some of the science of how it wires into your memories and nervous system. This will give you the foundation for understanding how to heal any trauma you may be carrying. Because trauma is one of the main causes of stress in life as a human.


This is the third in a series of 10 posts called “What is Trauma”. Learning about trauma can be overwhelming and even triggering. I encourage you to go slow, letting God lead you to where He needs you right now. And if at any point your get triggered and need help, there are free and paid resources linked at the bottom of each post. They’ll help you out of those triggers, back into the state of peace in your mind and body. You deserve that, so don’t shy away from help if you need it. I’m praying for you.

The Types of Trauma

Today I want to re-introduce you to the 5 different types of trauma. If you missed the first post, I introduced what trauma is, which will lay a great foundation for understanding these different types.

5 Different Types

While trauma is a collective psychological wound from the hard things you’ve lived through in life, there are different types of trauma that you can carry. These depend on the different circumstances from your life, and the world around you, when you traumatized.


These different types are:

1. Acute Trauma (also known as Shock Trauma)

This is the trauma you’ll carry from one single event.

2. Chronic Trauma (also known as Repetitive Trauma)

This is the trauma you’ll carry from repeated and prolonged exposure to highly stressful events (physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually). These events include child abuse, bullying, domestic violence and war.

3. Developmental Trauma

This is the trauma you’ll carry from chronic and prolonged exposure to multiple highly stressful events in early childhood (physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually). This includes abuse, neglect and other stressful events, typically with the people closest to you (like your caregivers).

4. Complex Trauma

This is the trauma you’ll carry from chronic and prolonged exposure to multiple highly stressful events (typically physical in nature), from abuses from other people (often those closest with you). This is often found in early childhood, and includes sexual abuse, physical abuse, community violence and war.

5. Secondary Trauma (also known as Vicarious Trauma or Caregiver Fatigue)

This is the trauma you’ll carry when you’re in close contact with someone else who has trauma. You’ll develop trauma symptoms over time from being in close proximity to them and their trauma symptoms.

Multiple Types of Traumas

It’s possible to have multiple types of trauma, and we see this most with complex trauma. By nature, it automatically includes chronic trauma, and when you’re a child, it will also include developmental trauma as well.


When this happens it’s also called complex trauma (I’m sorry no one came up with a better name).


In the last post, we talked about 3 of these types: acute, secondary and chronic traumas.


Today we’re going to talk about complex and developmental traumas, along with when there are a combination of traumas.

Developmental and Complex Traumas

Developmental Trauma

Developmental trauma is the trauma you’ll carry from chronic and prolonged exposure to multiple highly stressful events in early childhood (physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually). 


It comes from your relationships, typically involving the people closest to you (like your caregivers). 


And often comes when you’ve been through things like:


  • Chronic child abuse
  • Chronic childhood neglect
  • Other highly stressful events (as a child)


This trauma is from early childhood when your brain is still developing. This can begin as early as utero, if your mom was abused physical, sexually, verbally or emotionally. And can occur throughout your developmental years. The most formative being the first 7.


Because this trauma occurs during the crucial years when your brain and body are still developing, it can carry additional damage to your physical, neurological and emotional growth. As your brain and nervous system are developing, this trauma affects the way your brain, body and circuitry are developed, often creating a backwards wiring. This creates lingering effects (or symptoms) that last well into your adult years.


It’s easy to see how an adult abusing you (as a child) physically or sexually would impact your brain this severely. But what’s often overlooked is when an adult is chronically abusing you (as a child) verbally and/or emotionally. That type of abuse is destructive for any adult to go through. When it’s done to you, while your brain is still developing, it wreaks havoc on your brain’s ability to develop as God intended.

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma is the trauma you’ll carry from chronic and prolonged exposure to multiple highly stressful events, all being abuse. Typically, at least one of these is physical in nature, with all of them coming from other people (often those closest to you). We see this trauma most often in early childhood, although it can happen as an adult.


It often comes when you’ve been through abuses like:


  • Betrayal
  • Abandonment
  • Loss
  • Neglect
  • Violence
  • Exploitation


With physical abuses that include:


  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Community violence
  • War


These abuses cause high levels of harm to your brain and body, disrupting your relationships with those abusing you, and your ability to believe that you have any say or control over yourself anymore.


What makes this type of trauma so complex is the fact that it’s so diverse. It includes:


  • Different types of traumas
  • From different types of abuses
  • From multiple people
  • Ongoing over a period of time


An example of this can include sexual and verbal/emotional abuse, or sexual and physical abuse; from 2 or more different family members.


The complexity of ways that these abuses are being inflicted on you, adds to the damage in your brain and body in your trauma. They erode your brain’s ability to believe that you can be safe, people can be trusted, your boundaries matter, etc. This is similar to the damage done in developmental trauma (which is truly a type of complex trauma).


In your childhood, we see this when you’re raised in an abusive home, with your parents and/or caretakers abusing you physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually. It’s also possible that other relatives or community members are abusing you as well.


In your adulthood, we see this most when you’re in war (either as a soldier or civilian). You have multiple enemies, coming at you constantly, in multiple different ways (physically, mentally, emotionally and/or sexually).


It’s also possible to carry this level of trauma as an adult in domestic violence relationships, like when your spouse or partner is abusing you in multiple ways day-in and day-out. As well as in situations where your vulnerabilities get preyed on with different abuses from multiple people; like when you have a disability, an illness, are older in age, are dependent on someone else, etc.


It can even happen with a parent or caregiver being careless in how they care for you. What may feel like abuse to you, might actually be them not showing up as you need in the moment. Whether they’re negligent, angry, anxious, etc; they’re behavior may be hurting you again and again, but not what typically constitutes abuse.


All of these situations can leave you feeling hopeless, wrecking your brain’s ability to stay safe and healthy, wounding it with complex trauma at really high levels.

Multiple Types of Traumas

Multiple types of trauma, as known as Complex trauma (big C), is the combination of chronic, complex and possibly developmental traumas.


It’s the overall combination of traumas that denotes the level of trauma you might carry from the ongoing abuse you’ve lived through in your life.


When we look at these 3 types of traumas, there’s a hierarchy:


  • Chronic
    • Complex
      • Developmental


Both complex and developmental traumas are chronic in nature (meaning they’re ongoing). Developmental is almost always complex because abuse on a child rarely happens with singular abuses. They’re almost always a mixture of emotional/psychological with verbal, physical and/or sexual. (We see this with children getting manipulated into telling no one, or abused into believing it never happened via gaslighting).


So when we look at Complex trauma as a combination of traumas, we always see chronic and complex trauma, and if it’s in early childhood, we see developmental trauma as well.


What this means is that, if you have Complex trauma, you’ll carry the symptoms of each of these traumas collectively. Your brain has been wired in backwards, and it doesn’t hardly know truth (anymore). It’s been wounded at such a level that it’s not able to function properly (anymore); and your behaviors, relationships, career(s), faith, etc. will all be affected.


When you carry trauma at this level, it affects every aspect of your life. When your trauma affects every aspect of your life, we call it PTSD.


All trauma leaves you with Post-Traumatic Stress. That’s what a trigger is. When it affects every aspect of your life, it’s on the high end of the spectrum, where it’s considered a disorder.


If you have, or believe you might have Complex trauma (known as Complex PTSD), I want you to know 2 very important things:


  • You’re not alone – this is the trauma I carried
  • Healing is possible – and I’m living proof


In the next series (after these 10 posts on what trauma is), we’re going to talk about the mental health techniques (resources) that can heal trauma. So stay tuned.

Acute, Chronic and Secondary Traumas

If you missed the discussion on acute, chronic and secondary traumas, you can find it in the previous post.

Do You Have Trauma and Need Help with Your Triggers?

If you’re struggling with trauma triggers and life-altering effects they bring, I have resources for you.


While I always encourage healing in 1-on-1 sessions with a therapist or trauma coach, you’re also going to need help in between those sessions.


Here is a free video of one of my favorite mental health techniques for turning off trauma triggers. It’s a quick 5 minute exercise that will shift you back into the state of peace in your mind and body.


I also have a full Membership of videos and audios (just like the free one) to help you turn off your triggers anytime, anywhere. Some are short exercises to turn off your triggers quickly so you can get back to your life, while others are longer opportunities to turn off your triggers and release the hard emotions that came with them.


You deserve to live and thrive in the state of peace in your mind and body. And God wants that for you.


If you’re struggling with trauma and the damaging effects of it, know that it’s not only ok to get help. It’s beautiful.


From one survivor of this hard life to another,

I’m praying for you ♥︎

   – L aura

Want Laura On Your Blog?

Hey Beautiful Lady,

I’m currently moving across the country and unable to give the weekly podcast, blog and newsletter emails the attention they need and deserve. As such, I’m postponing them until Tuesday (6/4). If you need help healing, you can find links for Practitioners here. I’m praying for you 🤍