Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster.

How do I know?

Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.

What do I do next?  

While these feelings are normal and typical of trauma related events, some people have difficulty moving forward with their lives. Speak with a counselor who can help you navigate through the emotional terrain of finding healing and wholeness. Remember, you are not alone, and you can find healing from your past. We are here to help. 


Abuse is a repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over in an intimate relationship (example: a romantic partner, or over children.) These are behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. Abuse includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of abuse can be going on at any one time.

How do I know? 

If someone you love is being abusive towards you, it could be confusing. You may feel like you’re in a fog; you just don’t feel ‘right.’ You may to escape mentally, sleep, or zone out. Or, you may turn to drugs or alcohol to get away from the bad feelings abuse causes.  

What do I do next?

Realize it’s not your fault, and you can break free. Create a plan for your safety. Reach out to a professional who can walk you through next steps. We are here to cheer you on all the way. 

Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence refers to sexual activity where consent is not obtained or freely given. Anyone can experience SEXUAL VIOLENCE, but most victims are female. The person responsible IS usually someone known by the victim. The perPETRATOR can be, but is not limited to, a friend, Coworker, neighbor, or family member.

Before we get to definitions, let’s talk about consent. 

A lot of the legal jargon will see below has to do with consent. Consent sounds kinda confusing but actually by legal terminology, it’s really simple. You consent when you explicitly state that you want whatever sexual advance someone is doing. That means if you do not explicitly state that you want whatever said sexual interaction has happened, you may have been sexually violated.

Here’s a great video on it by Dr. Anna whom we heart. Click here for a video explaining more.  



Molestation is forced physical and usually sexual contact. This can include the touching of private parts, exposure of genitalia, the taking of pornographic pictures, and the involvement on sexual acts with molester and other children. Molestation does not presume sexual intercourse and is usually nonviolent, but it is a form of sexual abuse.

Child Sex Abuse- 

Child abuse occurs when an adult or an adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring to engage in sexual activities, indecent exposure of the body to a child, physical sexual contact with a child and child pornography. It is key to understand that the perpetrator seeks victims younger in age because of their vulnerability.

Domestic Violence- 

The inflicting of physical, or emotional injury by one family, household member, or intimate partner. Usually this behavior is a habitual pattern.

Sexual Harassment- 

Uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person.

Sexual Assault- 

Nonconsensual sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person who is incapable and unwilling of giving consent. Force and aggression are usually involved; however, sexual intercourse may not be involved.


Rape is a nonconsensual penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim and the violation of the victim's dignity and autonomy.

How do I know? 

If you feel drawn to this category one, or more of these definitions may apply to your experience. Sexual assault, incest and rape can happen to anyone, anytime, regardless of gender, race, economics, location, what you’re wearing, what you’re not wearing, what you said, what you didn’t say, if you fought back, if you didn’t, if you were too drunk to remember what happened, or if you were asleep. It can happen at the hands of someone you don’t know, but more likely than not, it happens by someone you do know- your uncle, your brother, your dad, your mom, your cousin, teacher, that guy who’s your neighbor, that lady who is your mom’s friend, your boss, coworker, your boyfriend, your closest friend. Anyone. Anytime. In fact, it happens every 2 minutes to someone in America. As defined legally, if you’ve ever felt sexually violated verbally or physically, you may be a survivor (and not victim) of sexual assault, rape, incest or even emotional incest. 

What do I do next? 

If you are immediate danger, call 911, and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Confide in a safe party to plan a safe escape. Most of all, we encourage you to get help. You don't have to go through this alone. Even if something happened a few days ago, or last month, or a few years ago seek professional care as soon as possible. Don’t put it off. Sexual abuse is one of those things that can permeate every area of our lives. Even if you’re thinking “Oh, it wasn’t that bad,” or you want to push it under the rug and convince yourself it was consensual or, that they’re not really a bad person, blah, blah, blah, blah… The excuses for not bringing what happened into the light or reporting it are endless (in fact statistically only 2-8% of assaults and rapes are ever reported.) Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed just reading this, please, please seek professional help.

Remember, you’re not alone. Here are a few examples of other’s who have experienced sexual abuse, have overcome and are getting better. 


Trafficking is the transportation of persons across borders under coercion, manipulation or violence for the use of profit. It is the sale of human beings. There are many types of trafficking including labor, domestic, sex and organ trafficking. 

How do I know? 

Trafficking is a term that’s tossed around a lot in the media, and it should be. It affects millions and millions of people. You may have heard other synonyms for it like, "slavery" or "sex slavery", or other versions like labor trafficking, domestic trafficking forced prostitution. There’s even organ trafficking (it’s definitely as terrifying as it sounds.)

First, let’s get down to the basics. Trafficking covers a huge umbrella including three main categories; labor trafficking, sex trafficking and organ trafficking. It’s basically when someone is forced to do work, or to exchange a service (sex, house work, nail salons, factory work, you name it) without proper compensation- or being told that they owe a debt. Someone who has been trafficked has usually been told one thing, and then forced to do something else. Someone is considered trafficked when for example, their boyfriend, or someone forces them to have sex with other people, or when they’re forced to work without getting any money, or receive threats against their personal safety and or family’s safety.

What do I do next? 

First, know you are not alone! If you are immediate danger,  call 911. If you suspect you or a loved one may be a victim of trafficking, report the situation to the National Trafficking Hotline right now at 1-888-373-7888. There are people on the line 24/7 who can get you immediate help. If you can’t call them, you can text them here “BeFree” (233733). Also, seek medical attention as soon as possible and confide in a safe party to plan a safe escape.


Self-injury, also called self-harm, is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It's typically not meant as a suicide attempt. Rather, self-injury is an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration.

How do I know? 

While self-injury may bring a momentary sense of calm and a release of tension, it's usually followed by guilt and shame and the return of painful emotions. And with self-injury comes the possibility of more serious and even fatal self-aggressive actions. Because self-injury is often done impulsively, it can be considered an impulse-control behavior problem. Self-injury may be linked to a variety of mental disorders, such as depression, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder.

What do I do next? 

If you've injured yourself severely or believe your injury may be life-threatening, call 911 or your local emergency services provider. If you're injuring yourself, even in a minor way, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, reach out for help. Any form of self-injury is a sign of bigger issues that need to be addressed. Talk to someone you trust — such as a friend, loved one, health care provider, religious leader or a school official — who can help you take the first steps to successful treatment. While you may feel ashamed and embarrassed about your behavior, you can find supportive, caring and nonjudgmental help. 


The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. Sometimes also referred to as a dependency, habit or problem.

How do I know? 

It takes courage and strength to face up to any type of addiction, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, nicotine, gambling, the internet, or self-injury. You may have an addiction if you feel guilty about your habitual behavior, lie to others about your habits, need engage in the habit, or substance in order to relax, or feel better, endanger yourself or others because of the habit, or if the habit, or substance in interrupting your daily life. 

What do I do next? 

No matter how bad the addiction or how powerless you feel, there is hope and help available. Don’t give up, even if you’ve tried and failed before. You don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom; you can make a change at any time. Recovery is a process, and there’s bound to be some bumps in the road. But you can overcome your addiction by learning how to cope in ways that are constructive rather than destructive to yourself and others.


Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods.

How do I know?

We’ve often heard depression feels heavy and black. It’s like heaviness hangs in the air that makes little tasks just impossible to accomplish. It can be a very isolating experience because you don’t want to see anyone anyway. You just want to zone out and unplug. Or maybe you want to do the opposite, get up and take back your life, but you just… can’t. Sometimes it’s chemical, and sometimes it’s just because life happens. 

What do I do next?:

Know it’s not your fault, and you’re not crazy. Find someone you can trust and let them know you’re struggling. We encourage you to also find some professional help as well who can help you work through whatever it is that is holding you back.