Women's Health Matters

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What is interpersonal trauma

Many events can be classified as “traumatic.” For example, motor vehicle accidents, the sudden death of a loved one, medical illness, abuse or assault. Interpersonal types of trauma are those events that occur between people. The people involved may have an established relationship, or it can be a one-time encounter. For example, child abuse occurs when a parental figure or person of authority abuses a child; sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact by one or more individuals to another individual. Trauma of an interpersonal nature can be experienced in many different forms, including:

  • child abuse (including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, and witnessing violence)
  • sexual assault/rape
  • intimate partner violence/domestic violence
  • stalking
  • elder abuse
  • historical trauma (the pervasive oppression and violence toward a group or culture over years or generations)
  • war and torture


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