Counseling & Psychological Services

Information & Self-Screenings
Trauma, Abuse, Assault

Whether it is a natural disaster, accident, or human act, life comes to a standstill after a traumatic event. Traumatic events often involve a physical threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and powerless can be traumatic. Even if you are not hurt physically, traumatic events have significant emotional impact. Strong emotional reactions are expected and “normal” after experiencing an abnormal event. Common reactions may include:

  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Feeling detached or unconcerned about others
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling jumpy and getting startled easily at sudden noises
  • Feeling on guard and constantly alert
  • Having disturbing dreams and memories or flashbacks
  • Having work or school problems
  • Difficulties with intimacy

Sexual abuse, rape, and other types of sexual assault are forms of violence. These acts are not about sex, they are about power and control. Any time a person does not actively consent to a sexual interaction, a sexual assault has occurred. This includes when a person is under the influence of substances, or when someone has been coerced, pressured, or manipulated into sexual activity. Victims of sexual assault are victims of violence. For more information, contact the IUPUI Sexual Assault Prevention, Intervention, and Response (SAPIR) task force.


Understanding that certain reactions are “normal” following critical life events can help you on the road to recovery. It is also important to know that every individual will have their own pattern of emotional response – no two people are alike. To make it even more complicated, your reactions will change over time. Some people respond immediately, while others have delayed reactions. Some people will recover quickly, while others will take longer to recover. Many people will re-experience some symptoms on the anniversaries of the events – a month, a year, etc.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

For many people, the impact of a traumatic event diminishes over time. For others, the symptoms may last for an extended period of time. PTSD may be diagnosed when symptom of anxiety, intrusive memories, flashbacks, anxiety, hypervigilance, and avoidance disrupt a person’s daily life. Situations in which individuals are more likely to develop PTSD include:

  • Extremely intense and life threatening trauma
  • Long lasting traumatic events
  • Trauma earlier in life, including childhood abuse or neglect
  • Limited social or emotional support

See Mental Health Screening for online screening for PTSD

Treatment for PTSD

Treatment for PTSD often includes both medication and counseling. Counseling can help you find effective way to cope with the symptoms and to find a sense of meaning for your life as a survivor of trauma and beyond.