Girls, Trauma, and PTSD

Injury is common in women; five out of ten women experience a distressing event. Girls tend to experience different injuries than men.


Most early info on trauma and PTSD came from studies of male Veterans, mostly Vietnam Veterans. Researchers found that women's reactions were similar to male combat Veterans and began to analyze the effects of sexual assault. Women's experiences of trauma may also cause PTSD.

Risk of experiencing trauma

Findings from a big national mental health study demonstrate that a little more than half of all women will experience at least one traumatic event in their own life. Women are marginally less likely to experience trauma than guys. The most typical injury for girls is sexual assault or child sexual abuse. About one in three girls will experience a sexual assault in their own lifetime. Rates of sexual assault are higher for women than guys. Women are also more likely to be neglected or abused in youth, to experience domestic violence, or to have a loved one suddenly perish.

What happens after trauma

After an injury, some girls begin drinking or using medications, may feel depressed, or develop PTSD. There are a few reasons women might get PTSD more than guys:

Women are more than likely to experience sexual assault.

Sexual assault is more inclined to cause PTSD than a number of 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 occasion develop PTSD. Girls are somewhat more likely to develop PTSD if they:

Have a previous mental health problem (for example depression or anxiety)

Experienced a very severe or life threatening childhood trauma trauma

Were attacked

Were injured during the occasion

Had a severe response at that time of the event

Experienced other stressful occasions later

Do not have great social support

What PTSD is like for girls

Some PTSD symptoms are more prevalent in women than men. Women are prone to have more trouble feeling emotions to be jumpy, and to avoid things that remind them of the injury than guys. Guys are really more prone to feel angry and to have trouble controlling their anger then girls. Girls with PTSD are more prone to feel depressed and anxious, while guys with PTSD are more prone to possess difficulties with substances or alcohol. Both men and girls who experience PTSD may develop physical health concerns.

Treatment for PTSD

There are excellent treatments for PTSD. Girls might be more likely than men to find help after a traumatic event. At least one study found that women react to treatment as good as or better than guys. This might be because girls are usually more comfortable sharing feelings and discussing private things with others than men.

Women in the military

Girls in the military are at high risk for exposure to traumatic events, especially during times of war. A growing number of women are being exposed to fight although men are more likely to experience combat. Girls in the military are at higher risk for exposure to sexual harassment or sexual assault than men. Future studies are needed to better understand the effects of women's exposure to sexual assault and both fight.