Girls, Trauma, and PTSD

Injury is common in women; five out of ten women experience a distressing event. Women tend to experience traumas that are different than guys. While both women and men report the exact same symptoms of PTSD (hyperarousal, reexperiencing, avoidance, and numbing), some symptoms are more normal for girls or men.


Most early information on PTSD and injury came from studies of male Veterans, mainly Vietnam Veterans. Researchers began to study the effects of sexual assault and found that women's reactions were similar to male combat Veterans. Women's experiences of trauma can also cause PTSD.

Danger of experiencing injury

Findings from a large national mental health study reveal that a bit more than half of all women will experience a minumum of one traumatic event in their own life. Girls are somewhat less likely to experience trauma than men. The most common injury for girls is sexual assault or child sexual abuse. About one in three women will experience a sexual assault within their lifetime. Speeds of sexual assault are higher for girls than men. Girls are also more prone to be neglected or mistreated in youth, to experience domestic violence, or to have a loved one unexpectedly expire.

What occurs after injury

After a trauma, some girls might feel depressed, begin drinking or using drugs, or develop PTSD. Women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men (10% for girls and 4% for men).

Women are prone to experience sexual assault.

Sexual assault is more likely to cause PTSD than many other occasions.

Women may be more likely to blame themselves for trauma experiences than men.

Why are some women at higher risk for PTSD?

Not all girls who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. Women are prone to develop PTSD if they:

Have a previous mental health issue (for example depression or stress)

Experienced an extremely severe or life-threatening injury

Were sexually assaulted

Were injured during the occasion

Had a severe reaction at the period of the occasion

Experienced other stressful occasions later

Don't have good social support

What PTSD is like for girls

Some PTSD symptoms are more prevalent in women than guys. Girls are more prone to be jumpy, to have more trouble feeling emotions, and to prevent things that remind them of the injury than guys. Men are prone to feel angry and to have trouble controlling their anger then women. Girls with PTSD are more prone to feel depressed and anxious, while men with PTSD are more prone to have problems with drugs or alcohol.

Treatment for PTSD

There are excellent treatments for PTSD. Women might be more likely than men to find PTSD child abuse help after a distressing event. At least one study found that women respond to treatment as good as or better than men. This might be because girls are usually more comfortable sharing feelings and talking with others than guys about personal things.

Girls in the military

Currently, about 15% of all military personnel in Iraq are girls. A growing number of women are being exposed to battle, although men are more likely to experience combat. Women in the military are at higher risk for exposure to sexual harassment or sexual assault than guys.