North Central State College North Central State College

Trauma & Recovery

Your Resilient Self

Many people experience trauma daily and do not realize it, because they have experienced it for so long that it seems normal and acceptable. Many people have experienced trauma in childhood and adolescence and do not realize it for similar reasons.

We encourage you not to downplay or dismiss the topic of trauma (and traumatic experiences) because it often has negative long-term impacts upon physical health, mental health, relationships, and your ability to learn new skills and to make money, develop a satisfying career, and live a vibrant life.

If you feel the explanations of trauma, resilience, and recovery below apply to you and your family or friends, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with an on-campus counselor through our free on-campus Student Assistance Program (SAP). The service is free to anyone who is enrolled in for-credit classes at NC State. You do not need to be in crisis to talk to them.

Editor’s Note: We thank the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Ashland County, Ohio for the content that appears on this page.

    • Trauma is the experience of not having control over your safety. It often includes a feeling of helplessness and can be an experience of severe shock and injury. It may also be a threat of severe shock and injury.
    • Trauma may occur to one or several parts of yourself at the same time and cause injury to your
      • Body (biological self)
      • Emotions and thoughts (psychological self)
      • Relationships (social self)
    • The words trauma and violence and abuse are often used to mean the same thing. Trauma and abuse can also be described as assault and neglect.
    • Trauma can happen to anyone at any stage of life—including infants, children, adolescents, young adults, adults, and elders.
    • Traumatic events may occur in many forms. Some examples include the following:
      • Natural disasters (e.g., fires, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes)
    • Armed violence and conflicts (e.g., active shooters, police raids, riots, gang fights, war, genocide)
    • Harmful interpersonal relationships (e.g., family violence, family neglect, school violence, neighborhood violence, school bullying, workplace bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape)
    • Harmful group relationships (e.g., racism, sexism, ageism, classism, homophobia, and employer and employee conflicts)
    • Harmful institutional policies and procedures (e.g., forced restraints in psychiatric hospitals and children’s residential programs; forced restraints in hospital emergency rooms and surgery suites; forced restraints during arrest, incarceration, and in jails and prisons)

    • Trauma has emerged as one of the most serious public health concerns in the United States because of its long-term adverse effects. Many people have experienced traumatic events in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, and in institutions like jails, prisons, and hospitals, where forced restraints and isolation are often used. Also, it is well known that active-duty military personnel and veterans experience high rates of trauma as a result of their military service.Research shows that unacknowledged and untreated trauma contributes to chronic health and mental health conditions, emotional suffering, and substance abuse and addiction problems across the lifespan. In other words, if people experience trauma as an infant, child, or adolescent, there’s a greater chance they will experience health problems, mental and emotional suffering, addiction, and other social problems later in life.

    • The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study has made significant contributionsto discussions of and responses to the impact of trauma. The ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between Kaiser Permanente of San Diego and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The study began in 1995 and continues today. Itis being replicated by health departments in 21 states and by the World Health Organization in 14 countries.The study began as a retrospective analysis of the health status of 17,337 middle-class adult men and women. The study continues to follow the health outcomes of these people.

      Adverse Experiences are the Traumatic Events

      The original ACE Study included a standardized but unusually comprehensive medical questionnaire, detailed physical examination, and extensive laboratory testing

      with biomedical measurements. Ten categories of adverse childhood experience (ACE) were included in a separate four-page questionnaire. People were asked if they had these traumatic experiences as children and adolescents:

      • Physical, emotional, and contact sexual abuse
      • Emotional and physical neglect
      • Growing up in a household without both biological parents
      • Growing up in a household where mother was treated violently
      • One member of the household was addicted to alcohol or other drugs
      • One member was chronically depressed or mentally ill
      • One member was imprisoned


      • Over 60 percent of patients had experienced one or more of the 10 adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) listed above
      • Of those who experienced at least one ACE, 87 percent reported at least one other ACE and 70 percent reported two or more ACEs
      • A strong and direct correlation* among one’s ACE Score (number of adverse childhood experiences reported) and biological health, mental health, and substance abuse problems in adulthood, including chronic health conditions, such as
        • Obesity
        • Diabetes
        • Heart disease
        • Hepatitis
        • Cancer
        • Others

      *Editor’s Note: These research results are correlational and not causal. This means that if you have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), you might be at a higher risk for experiencing the diseases listed above. It does not mean you will experience them for sure.

      • Resilience is the ability to overcome serious hardship.
      • Examples of serious hardship include adverse (traumatic) experiences, emotional and mental suffering, and addiction to alcohol, tobacco, opioids/opiates, and other drugs. Serious hardship may also include severe and chronic physical illness and pain.
      • Resilience is very important when serious hardship produces an intensity of feeling in the body and mind that seems life-threatening—as if you are going to lose control of yourself, your identity, your dignity, your life, or your attachment (connection) to loved ones.
      • Resilience is an ability that all people can develop and recover at any stage of life.
      • Resilience is the ability to
        • Notice and regulate strong emotions, impulses, and urges.
        • Interrupt and control the urge to yell, slap, hit, punch, or commit other acts of verbal and physical assault and abuse.
        • Interrupt and control the urge to ignore, walk away from, or completely abandon someone in need, or commit other acts of verbal and physical neglect.
        • Convert strong emotions, impulses, and urges into
        • Words and a tone of voice that communicates what you want and need without hurting someone else.
        • Behavior that enables you to take positive action to get what you want and need without hurting someone else.
      • Researchers have identified core components for developing, maintaining, and recovering resilience, including the following:
        • At least one safe, stable, committed, and trusting relationship with another person in your family or community.
        • For infants, children, and adolescents, this person will be an adult who can model (or demonstrate) self-regulation of emotions, impulses, and urges.

        • Recovery is the ability to develop and/or return to a state of personal stability (homeostasis).
        • It is a concept that applies to physical health (body), mental and emotional health (mind), and social well-being (relationships). It also applies to abstinence and to managing cravings for and addiction to alcohol, tobacco, opiates/opioids, and other drugs.
        • Recovery includes the ability to reclaim a sense of self and self-determination. It includes reclaiming your identity as an important person with feelings, thoughts, perceptions, value, and a personal history and story (narrative) that shapes who you are.
        • Recovery is closely linked to resilience. The two go hand-in-hand. They are intertwined.
        • Resilience will help you overcome serious hardships, and recovery will help you reclaim your sense of self and self-determination as an independent person despite the hardship.
        • People do not seek suffering but are deeply affected when it occurs. However, experiences of suffering may inspire our resilience and teach us about our own capacities to protect and heal the self.
        • Recovery is always possible. It is an individual process. There are many different paths that each person might take.
        • Recovery is an ability that all people can develop and maintain at any stage of life.
        • A core component of recovery is the presence of at least one safe, stable, committed, and trusting relationship with another person in your family or community. For infants, children, and adolescents, this person will be an adult who can model (or demonstrate) self-regulation of emotions, impulses, and urges.

        • Students who attend NC State College often have challenging life circumstances and responsibilities—like work, family, parenting, caregiving, and military service. You might also have struggles with money, housing, transportation, childcare, mental health needs, and health and medical conditions, among others.Life has already taught you some lessons. And you’re gaining more clarity about what you do want and do not want. That’s why you’re here at NC State. You have a personal quality that we call grit: it includes passion, persistence, determination, brains, guts, and heart. Another word for this is resilience.Know this. You belong here. You have used your grit and wit and resilience to survive. Now it’s time to thrive. Be intentional about it. Use your college experience to build momentum toward making your dreams and dream-job a reality.

  • Steven G. Stone, Paul M. Kubek, David Ross, and Diane Karther (2019). Our Human Community: Supporting and Promoting Attitudes and Services That Do No Harm. Ashland, OH: Mental Health and Recovery Board of Ashland County, p.8-13, p.14-21 (free e-booklet). |