Signs of Unresolved Trauma

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland
Photo by Pixabay on

Many people enter the therapy process with a minimal awareness of their trauma history.

When the trauma survivors are dissociative, they have the ability to block out an awareness of their trauma.  They may know that their family had problems, or that their family was dysfunctional, etc, but they may believe they were never abused.

child abuse
child abuse (Photo credit: Southworth Sailor)

However, blocking out conscious awareness of trauma does not mean that the survivors have no effects of that trauma.

Using denial and dissociative skills does not mean that the abuse did not happen.  Denial means that the person simply is refusing to acknowledge or accept the fact that they were traumatised.

They are pretending or not realising they were not hurt, when they were actually hurt very badly.

Even if the memories of abuse are hidden from the survivor’s awareness, blocked trauma / unresolved trauma creates very noticeable and obvious symptoms that can be easily seen in their every day lives.

People will enter therapy aware of some of the following symptoms, but they may not realize these complications are suggestive of unresolved trauma issues.

20 Signs  of Unresolved Trauma

1.  Addictive behaviors 

Addictive behaviors excessively turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling as a way to push difficult emotions and upsetting trauma content further away.

2.  Inability to tolerate conflicts

An inability to tolerate conflicts with others – having a fear of conflict, running from conflict, avoiding conflict, maintaining skewed perceptions of conflict

3.  Inability to tolerate intense feelings

An inability to tolerate intense feelings, preferring to avoid feeling by any number of ways

This powerful photo of emotional pain and inner turmoil was taken by ShaylinJanelle photography.
This powerful photo of emotional pain and inner turmoil was taken by ShaylinJanelle photography.

4.  Innate belief that they are bad

An innate belief that they are bad, worthless, without value or importance

5. Black and white thinking

Black and white thinking, all or nothing thinking, even if this approach ends up harming themselves

6. Suicidal thoughts

Chronic and repeated suicidal thoughts and feelings

7. Disorganised attachment patterns

Disorganised attachment patterns – having a variety of short but intense relationships, refusing to have any relationships, dysfunctional relationships, frequent love/hate relationships

8. Dissociation

Dissociation, spacing out, losing time, missing time, feeling like you are two completely different people (or more than two)

9.  Eating Disorders

Eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia, obesity, etc.

10. Excessive Sense of Self-Blame

Excessive sense of self-blame – taking on inappropriate responsibility as if everything is their fault, making excessive apologies

11. Inappropriate Attachments

Inappropriate attachments to mother figures or father figure, even with dysfunctional or unhealthy people

12.   Intense Anxiety

Intense anxiety and repeated panic attacks

13. Intrusive Thoughts, Flashbacks, Body Memories, Nightmares

Intrusive thoughts, upsetting visual images, flashbacks, body memories / unexplained body pain, or distressing nightmares

14.  Depression

Ongoing, chronic depression

15.  Victim Role

Repeatedly acting from a victim role in current day relationships

16.  Rescuer Role

Repeatedly taking on the rescuer role, even when inappropriate to do so

17.   Self-Harm

Self-harm, self-mutilation, self-injury, self-destruction

(More educational videos about self-injury and other related topics available below.)

18.  Suicidal actions

Suicidal actions and behaviours, failed attempts to suicide

19.  Perpetrator Role

Taking the perpetrator role / angry aggressor in relationships

20.  Intense Fears

Unexplained but intense fears of people, places, things

Stop ignoring child abuse
Stop ignoring child abuse (Photo credit: quinn.anya)

These same symptoms can be applied for survivors already working in therapy.  Attending regular therapy does not mean the clients have resolved their trauma issues or that they are even working in that general direction.  Many therapy clients will continue to deny, dissociate, and refuse to look at their trauma even if they are aware of their daily struggles.

If you are experiencing a number of the symptoms listed above, ask yourself if you are truly ready to address your trauma issues, or if you find it more comfortable to continue living with these struggles.

Is it harder to face how you were abused and who abused you?  Or is it harder to live a life full of depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, troubled relationships, extreme fears, physical pain, and addictions?

Running from your trauma history will not help you feel better.  In the short-run, you might not have to face the issues, but the cost in the long-run of unresolved trauma weighs more heavily than you might suspect.

Unresolved Trauma

Source: Discussing Dissociation

For more information on CPTSD and other issues visit our YouTube Channel

If you need support or would like to connect with like-minded people join our Private and Closed online Facebook Group for Child Abuse Survivors and those with CPTSD. Click here to join

The Memoir You Will Bear Witness is available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback.


    • It’s not easy to speak up, especially after a long time. While for everyone, everything seemed perfect.. but it is not. Thanks for the writing. It really felt that someone, somewhere does understand.

      Thank you 🙏

      • Hi Pauline, you’re absolutely right it is not easy to speak up. For some people impossible. I am delighted that the article resonated with you and you feel like you’re not so alone while dealing with your trauma. Email me anything you like on erinfado All the best Erin

    • Your welcome. Thanks for taking the trouble to comment. I appreciate it. Delighted you found it useful. All the best Erin

  1. Trauma is something that people rarely discuss yet so many are traumatized. Thanks for bringing up this important issue. It’s important for people to know they are not alone and that there is help.

    • Hi Valerie, Thank you for taking the trouble to leave a comment. I appreciate it. You’re right it is a very important issue and so many people feel so isolated and alone. I hope my blog makes a few people who read it feel less so. All the best Erin

  2. This was so informational. Thank you for sharing it. I wish I had known the characteristics much, much sooner. I meet 2/3rd of them. Looking back on my life, I see the symptoms now. Wish I had known. Hopefully someone will see this and know they are understood and will seek help and care.

    • Thanks for commenting. I am thrilled you found it helpful. It’s great if it has helped you. All the very best for the future. Erin

    • Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it. Congratulations on doing your psychology major. That’s no mean feat especially while juggling being in therapy and coping with your trauma too. Good luck with it all. Erin.

  3. Thanks for the article. I was in therapy for years and have overcome a lot, mainly victim role. I have been experiencing PTSD from a job I was in for 20 years by having with nightmares. On antidepressants for life. I’ve made a lot of progress though and I will be fine.

    • Hi Janet. Good to hear from you and thanks for commenting. Sorry to hear you have been through so much but delighted to hear through your own hard work and resilience you are healing and have made a lot of progress. Good luck for the future. All the best Erin.

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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