Trauma is common. Many people experience, and continue to experience, trauma in their lives.
Trauma is caused by events, circumstances or intergenerational historical traumatic experiences. Trauma can have lasting adverse effects on a person’s or collective’s mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual wellbeing. The effects of trauma can vary depending on the resources of individuals, whānau and communities and on how people in services work to make a difference.
These resources describe different types of trauma, their potential impacts on wellbeing and the many factors that contribute to resilience.
Community trauma impacts people collectively and individually, and can exacerbate people’s experience of trauma and adversity. Community trauma can be ‘one-off’ events like natural disasters, pandemics, public shootings, hate crimes. Community trauma can also manifest in often related and ongoing adversities such as racism, poverty and economic instability, inequitable access to health, education and social support. How we respond can enable whānau to restore their wellbeing.
These resources provide guidance on responding to community trauma:
- MoH: Coping after a traumatic event (NZ)
- Coping after a serious event (NZ)
- Community Trauma Toolkit. (AUS)
- Tragic events and community violence (AUS)
- Coping with traumatic events and news (USA)
- Beyond Screening: Achieving California's Bold Goal of Reducing Exposure to Childhood Trauma (USA)
The effects of intergenerational poverty, family violence, racism and colonisation are examples of trauma that can occur across generations. Intergenerational trauma impacts all cultures, yet in Aotearoa for tangata whenua, these unacknowledged and unresolved challenges continue to have a residual influence on health and wellbeing. Similarly, for Pasifika the effects of intergenerational trauma may be experienced as a result of collective dislocation and also racism.
- Te Atawhai o Te Ao Digital Storytelling (NZ)
- Rolling Out the Fala: a trauma-informed approach when working with Pasifika people (9:12) (NZ)
- Historical Trauma and Whānau Violence Professor Leonie Pihama (1:1:17) (NZ)
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). For example, experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect, or having a family member attempt or die by suicide.
ACEs also include aspects of a child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding such as growing up in a household with:
- substance misuse
- mental health problems
- instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison.
ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood and can extend across generations. ACEs can also negatively impact education and job opportunities. However, with the right supports and resources ACEs can be prevented (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2020).
To learn more about ACEs visit:
Trauma and Resilience
The ability to cope, and even thrive, following a negative experience is sometimes called "resilience." Adverse experiences are common and how people respond to them is influenced by the support around them. Responsive relationships and positive experiences can foster resilience in people and counter the effects of traumatic experience.
- Canterbury Resilience Health Hub (NZ)
- New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience (NZ)
- Resilience (USA)
- Resilience and Childhood Trauma (USA)
- 8 Things to Remember about Child Development (USA)