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Somerset Phoenix Project

Working alongside professionals and supporting children, young people and families affected by sexual abuse.

A specialist service supporting the development of professionals in Somerset. We are here to reduce the negative impact of child sexual abuse (CSA) on the lives of children and families living in Somerset

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How trauma might affect you


How you might be feeling

Your brain and your body might be reacting to what you have experienced in ways that feel upsetting and confusing.

Everybody is different and will be impacted in different ways. Below is a list of common things people feel. You may feel all of them, some of them or none of them at all.



You may feel angry at people close to you, angry with people for not understanding, angry at yourself, or angry for what feels like no reason at all. Because you feel angry you might want to lash out and do or say things that afterwards you wish you hadn’t. Sometimes this anger can feel scary or overwhelming.



You may feel very little at the moment, or just a bit numb. This might be because your brain has shut off from having emotions that feel too big, to protect you from them. It might be difficult to make decisions.



You might feel like crying sometimes and not know why. You might feel sad that bad things have happened or sad about life in general.



There is no right or wrong way to feel and sometimes there are many emotions that are happening at the same time or sometimes none at all, and this can be confusing. Sometimes you might have thoughts that don’t seem to make sense or aren’t what you feel you ‘should’ think.



You may feel scared or anxious about being around certain people, going to certain places, being on your own or have a general feeling of being scared and not knowing why.


Jumpy or ‘On Edge’

You may feel ‘on edge’ and jump at things like loud noises, unexpected movements, etc. Your brain might be on ‘high alert’ for danger and respond to normal things as if they were dangerous things.



Even though it is never your fault that you were abused, it is common to still feel guilty. This can make you feel ashamed and like you are a bad person. It is important to remember that this is a feeling and not a fact, you are not a bad person and abuse is not your fault.


What behaviours you might be showing

When our brains have experienced this type of trauma it can influence how we behave and think. Common behaviours are:

  • Problems with sleeping or having nightmares
  • Having ‘flashbacks’ where you remember some bad experiences and feel like you are re-living them
  • Having problems at school
  • Not being able to concentrate
  • Having difficulty following instructions
  • Self-injuring
  • Not trusting people
  • Finding it difficult to be in loud places or crowds
  • Doing things or saying things that afterwards you regret or don’t understand
  • Problems with eating
  • Being withdrawn
  • Being aggressive
  • Health conditions like asthma, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. might get worse
  • Needing comforting things that you used to like when you were younger


You may be doing lots of these things, a couple of them or none at all. Everyone is different and will respond to things differently.

Sometimes the people around you might not understand why you are acting this way. Sometimes you might not understand why you are acting a certain way.

It could be because your brain is trying to keep you safe after you have experienced feeling very unsafe. Your brain can be trying to protect you but going about it in ways that you don’t find very helpful. This is a normal response to trauma. It can also change, just because this is how you are feeling/behaving now it does not mean that it will be this way in the future.

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