You might think of trauma as major life-threatening events like car accidents, assaults, kidnapping, or natural disasters. However, there are many other events that are considered traumatic. Bullying, harassment, discrimination, and verbal or emotional abuse can all have devastating effects on mental health. Trauma may even lead to disorders like anxiety, depression, or PTSD.
The LGBTQ community is at increased risk of experiencing trauma. With this in mind, it’s important to be aware of trauma you or a loved one may be going through and seek out appropriate mental health care to cope.
Types of Trauma
There are unique types of traumas that people who identify as LGBTQ may live through that their heterosexual peers may not encounter.
LGBTQ individuals may feel like they need to hide their sexual orientation for fear of losing friends or even family ties. This experience can be deeply traumatic. They may come to believe that they are worthless or inherently shameful.
Harassment and Bullying
Bullying is a common issue children face, but LGBTQ youth are twice as likely (PDF) to be verbally and physically attacked at school. Any type of verbal or physical abuse, especially repeated incidents, can lead to trauma disorders.
Cyberbullying is another source of harassment for LGBTQ individuals. Online bullies are harder to escape since they can follow their victim’s home and continue their attacks on social media platforms.
There have been reports of hate crimes against LGBTQ individuals in the news, such as the Orlando nightclub shooting. Shockingly, FBI data reveals that over 16% of hate crime victims are targeted based on sexual orientation. Violent crimes are a deeply traumatic event and could trigger post-traumatic stress disorder.
Impact of Trauma on Mental Health
Trauma has a profoundly negative effect on mental health. It can lead to a variety of disorders related to the trauma, or more general symptoms like anxiety and depression.
A more troubling impact of trauma is suicidal thoughts and actions. The LGBTQ community is already at increased risk for suicide attempts (PDF). There have also been various studies that have found a link between trauma and suicide attempts. For example, in one study, childhood abuse was estimated to account for up to 80% of the risk of suicide (PDF) in the individuals being analyzed. When LGBTQ individuals suffer trauma, they may be at risk for suicidal ideation or attempts.
Healing from Trauma
If you or a loved one have suffered trauma, it’s important to address the experience. Trying to forget or ignore the trauma will only increase the impact on your mental health. However, processing the trauma will bring healing and a greater sense of empowerment.
Contact High Focus Centers to inquire about outpatient mental health treatment near you. Our clinicians have experience working with LGBTQ individuals, as well as people who have lived through trauma. Call us at (800) 877-3628 or fill out our contact form today.