Single event or ongoing trauma
Trauma can be experienced from a single event. It also can be influenced by ongoing or continuous events or conditions. For example, exposure to violence in one’s family or community may be an ongoing and repeated experience.
Individual or societal/collective trauma
Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual's functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being (1).
Societal or collective trauma can result when a traumatic event/series of events affects a large number of people. It can be directly experienced, witnessed (on TV) or heard about. The traumatic experience can bring forth fear, horror, helplessness, or anger (2). Examples of societal or collective trauma include terrorist attacks, natural disasters, wars, genocide, oppression and racism experienced by certain ethnic group or culture, murder/fires in a community.
Dignity plays an important role in the breakdown and restoration of relationships. Dignity violations contribute to a breakdown in relationships. We may react to a threat to our dignity in ways that escalate negative interactions and maintain cycles of conflict and/or violence. In order to break the cycle, it is important to acknowledge and address violations of dignity. When we extend ways that honor each others' dignity we promote healthy relationships (3).
Microaggressions are statements or actions that are often subtle, unintentional, and ambiguous about socially constructed identities that embody privilege in different ways - including sexuality, class, religion, education level. Recognizing microaggressions can help to make visible the ways in which social difference, marginalization, and identify consciousness are formed from structures of power and privilege and produced and maintained in everyday lives through people's comments (5).
"Racial microaggressions are the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned [people] who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated." - Derald Wing Sue, Columbia University
Click here for examples of racial microaggressions.
Structural or historical trauma
Structural trauma can be individual or collective like structural racism, inequality or oppression. Youth voices from the RYSE Listening Campaign identified the following factors that contributed to their experiences of trauma: economic disempowerment, histories of oppression, mass incarceration, immigration & legal status, environmental racism (4).