Racial Trauma: How To Recognize And Cope

Last Update on August 8, 2022 : Published on August 8, 2022
How to recognize and cope with Racial Trauma

We all are aware of racism, micro-aggressions, and discrimination that people go through because of their racial background. When such mistreatment or discrimination takes a place of violence or abuse, it can lead to racial trauma. It is also referred to as race-based traumatic stress. It is basically a sequence of consequences that occurs after experiencing discrimination and racism. Racial trauma can impact the mental, psychological and emotional health of a person severely. Such trauma is experienced simultaneously by an individual or a community. In this blog, I have covered what is racial trauma, the signs and symptoms of racial trauma, and how to cope with racial trauma.

What is Racial Trauma?

Racial trauma is caused by experiencing a traumatic event related to discrimination. It can also cause symptoms similar to anxiety and depression. Racial trauma is triggered by exposure to discrimination or abuse. Exposure to discrimination for a long time can result in humiliation, frightened, and isolation. And, it keeps on intensifying the severity of trauma.

Racial trauma is mostly experienced by stigmatized or marginalized ethnic groups like indigenous people, BIPOC, and black people.

Causes of Racial Trauma

Any type of discrimination or abuse can be the major cause of racial trauma. Additionally, racial trauma is mostly triggered by constant feelings of stress and anxiety caused by exposure to discrimination. Below are some of the common causes of racial trauma:

  • Exposure to ethnic or racial stereotypes
  • Constant fear about personal safety
  • Witnessed people receiving abuse or received abuse
  • Exposure to abuse of loved ones
  • Direct exposure to discrimination or abuse
  • Abuse or racism issues not acknowledged by other major communities

Symptoms of Racial Trauma

Racial trauma can impact mental and physical health badly. Symptoms of racial trauma are mostly related to the symptoms of PTSD. Some of the common symptoms of racial trauma are:

  • Distress
  • Avoid places, people, or things related to the trauma or exposure
  • Chronic and severe feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Negative thoughts and inability to distract from the trauma
  • Increased reactivity and sensitivity
  • Dissociation or feelings of numbness
  • Reduced mental health
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Difficulty in focusing or concentrating
  • Hypervigilance
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Nightmares
  • Problems in sleeping or staying asleep

Impact of Racial Trauma on Mental Health

The impact of racial trauma on mental health is complicated and complex. It is not that incident that is permeated by nature; it is an incident that affects every person in that community. Sometimes, it also leads to re-traumatization in other people as well who have gone through the same experience. Racial trauma is so intense that it can also impact people who are living far, watching from afar, or experiencing the same.

  • It can reduce self-worthand self-esteem
  • It can reduce the chances of seeking assistance or support
  • It can result inemotional problems like dissociation

Additionally, racial trauma can develop other mental health conditions like:

Tips to Cope with Racial Trauma

Racial trauma is a prolonged mental health condition that needs proper diagnosis and treatment. Racism is difficult to treat and it is very challenging to cope with such a trauma.

If you are not able to process your feelings or not able to overcome the trauma, the first thing you should do is to check with a mental health provider for proper diagnosis and treatment planning.

If you wish to connect with a certified and experienced mental health professional from BetterHelp, click here.

Book Your Therapy Appointment Here

Along with accessing treatment, you can try these below-mentioned strategies and tools below that can help you reduce symptoms and overcome the trauma easily.

Connect with the people of the community

Find the people from the community that understands you and supports you. This will help in healing the wounds. You can also try storytelling to raise awareness and safety related to it. It will also help in centering justice and will try to cultivate the practices that will promote community healing.

Practice self-care

Practicing self-care will not only improve your overall well-being but also will help you in promoting a sense of self. When I say self-care, it should not be done because I said it or your therapist asked you to do it. It should come more naturally and should be anything that you like to do.

Set boundaries

It is so important to raise awareness and it is also more important to stay informed about what exactly is going around in your community. Sometimes, it can be anxiety-inducing but you must try to protect your people from such experiences. Additionally, set boundaries for yourself so that you can protect your mental health. The best way to create or set boundaries is to limit your media consumption in cases of racial trauma.

I hope this blog helps you in understanding racial trauma and tips to cope with it. For more such content, connect with us on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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