Different Types of Trauma – Chronic, Acute, Complex, and Historical

By Tiffiny J. Fambro | Selfcare

Jun 15

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When I say the word TRAUMA and talk to you about different types of trauma, what comes to your mind?

Maybe surviving a war as a veteran, domestic violence, cutting your finger with a sharp knife, being abandoned, being a part of an ethnic group that survived massive genocide or going through a natural disaster?

Well, those would all be forms of traumatic experiences and those experiences would all be categorized in one of the 4 main different types of trauma.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is an experience that causes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harm. It can be a short-lived experience or it can be an experience that is repeated over a long period of time.

Different Types of Trauma

There are 4 main categories of trauma. Each category has different causes and different effects.

Acute Trauma

Trauma that is experienced at 1 time as 1 event. For example, if a person almost drowns in a swimming pool, that may be considered an acute trauma. This experience may then have a lasting effect that results in a person being afraid of getting in water.

Chronic Trauma

Trauma that re-occurs over a period of time. An example can be repeated sexual abuse or dealing with a drug addicted spouse for years. Chronic trauma can definitely cause long term psychological struggles even if the trauma eventually ends.

Complex Trauma

Trauma that involves several traumatic events within a given timeframe. For example, a natural disaster such as a tornado could be a complex trauma. If a town of people experience a tornado, the act of having to take shelter can be traumatic. Once the tornado is over, the experience of losing their homes could be yet another trauma. The amount of time and effort that is put into rebuilding or having to move could be yet another trauma. All of these experiences are cause by the tornado so it would be considered a complex multi-tiered level of trauma.

Historical Trauma

Trauma that is usually experienced by an entire community such as a racial group, ethnic group, tribal community, a specific gender, or a group of people that identify with a specific religion. Historical trauma can involve oppression, displacement, genocide, imprisonment, lynching, segregation tactics, enslavement, discrimination or atrocities committed during warfare such as mass rapes of a specific group. Many times, historical traumas can take place over a prolonged period of time and over multiple generations of a community. Historical trauma can be a catalyst for the inheritance of specific demoralizing internal beliefs. The results can include low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, self-destructive behavior, feelings of hopelessness. It can also result in the manifestation of physical health issues as the body’s survival response due to years of prolonged stress and anxiety.

The worst part of trauma is that even when an event or experience has ended, the psychological effects can last for many years. The fear, anxiety, depression, or voice of the oppressor can stay with a person long after the trauma ended. For many women, trauma can induce a number of limiting beliefs that hold them back from moving forward.  Feelings and beliefs around not being good enough, smart, talented, powerful, beautiful, safe or equal.


In order to truly move forward in life, past trauma must be confronted and healed. 

If you are feeling like you may need to seek help in order to get past the limiting beliefs that trauma has caused you then take a look at Online-therapy.com This site gives you access to therapist around the world to help you move forward in life.


Ready to start the process of gaining more clarity, confidence, and courage? I have created 3 simple steps to help you on your journey.

  • First – Download my Free 5-Day Mindset Detox Workbook – Click Here
  • Second – Join my Free private Facebook women’s community to get coaching and support – Click Here
  • Third– Get started on your CCC journey with my online self-paced entry course The 5 Keys to Magnetizing Confidence for $49.99CLICK HERE to review and purchase the course. 

Don’t let more time pass by, reclaim your life today!

About the Author

Tiffiny has a B.A. in Psychology, and master’s degree in Public Health Education. She worked in consulting for over 16 years, as well as previously owning a fitness and health business. In her personal life, she used personal development, mindset and health strategies to go from being overworked in a demanding corporate career, emotionally drained in a toxic marriage, physically unhealthy, and depressed to becoming an award-winning figure level bodybuilding athlete and entrepreneur. As a women’s empowerment coach, she works to help women get clear on their goals, build confidence, increase self-esteem, take action on their deep desires and create a life they love

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