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How To Cope With Trauma and Violence

Tips For Coping With Violence and Trauma


Updated December 17, 2012

How To Cope With Trauma and Violence
Traumatic events like random shootings can affect us all deeply—even if we weren’t directly involved! Here are some important coping techniques for those involved in a traumatic event, and for those who weren’t directly involved, but are still emotionally impacted:
  • Control What You Can: Tragedies like this one make us feel helpless by pointing out how we and our loved ones can be vulnerable even in seemingly safe, everyday situations. It’s jarring to be reminded that we could be in danger at any time. One way we can feel safer is to look at all the ways we can keep ourselves safer (many of which are mentioned on the previous page): avoiding obviously dangerous situations, having a safety plan for numerous scenarios, etc.

  • Talk About Your Feelings: Having a strong, supportive network is important for anyone, but after a traumatic event, it’s a must. It’s important to process strong feelings you may have, and most of us do that more easily by talking things out with someone we trust—this can be a good friend, a partner, or a therapist. Talking things out often helps because, in addition to adding social support, it helps us process what’s going on inside. Even if the person we’re talking to has no solutions, the act of articulating what we’re feeling, and examining our feelings in the context of a conversation, makes it easier for us to move past these feelings.

  • Begin Journaling: Research has shown that journaling has many positive effects on health and wellbeing. The most effective form of journaling involves writing about one’s feelings, and also brainstorming solutions to troubling situations. Keeping this in mind, journaling can be a helpful tool for dealing with distress, especially for people who don’t have a supportive network in place or aren’t as comfortable talking to others about their feelings.

  • Find Help: For those more deeply affected by tragic events, it’s often a good idea to talk to a therapist, at least for a few sessions. There are also support groups for people who want to connect with others who are dealing with similar issues, and a therapist may be able to put you in contact with one. These steps aren’t necessary in all circumstances, but very helpful for those experiencing a more severe reaction to trauma. If you start having intrusive thoughts about a trauma, become preoccupied with feelings of anxiety, experience nightmares related to the event, or if you find that your reactions to a traumatic event are interfering with your normal functioning, it’s a good idea to talk to a therapist.

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