Reposted from Psychology Today, July 31, 2012, and article by Lisa Firestone, PhD
Complex trauma is described by psychologist and trauma expert Dr. Christine Courtois, as “a type of trauma that occurs repeatedly and cumulatively, usually over a period of time and within specific relationships and contexts.” Examples include severe child abuse, domestic abuse, or multiple military deployments into dangerous locales. In Dr. Courtois article, “Understanding Complex Trauma, Complex Reactions, and Treatment Approaches” she summarizes complex traumatic events and experiences as stressors that are:
(1) repetitive, prolonged, or cumulative (2 ) most often interpersonal, involving direct harm, exploitation, and maltreatment including neglect/abandonment/antipathy by primary caregivers or other ostensibly responsible adults, and (3) often occur at developmentally vulnerable times in the victim’s life, especially in early childhood or adolescence, but can also occur later in life and in conditions of vulnerability associated with disability/ disempowerment/dependency/age /infirmity, and so on.
To read the full article, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201207/recognizing-complex-trauma