Women, Trauma, and PTSD

Trauma is common in women; five out of ten girls experience a traumatic event. Girls often experience different traumas than men. While both women and men report the same symptoms of PTSD (hyperarousal, reexperiencing, avoidance, and numbing), some symptoms are more common for women or men.


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

Danger of experiencing trauma

Findings from a large national mental health study reveal that a bit more than half of all women will experience at least one traumatic event in their life. Girls are slightly less likely to experience trauma than guys. The most frequent injury for girls is sexual assault or child sexual abuse. About one in three girls will experience a sexual assault in their life. Rates of sexual assault are higher for girls than men. Women are also more inclined to be neglected or abused in youth, to experience domestic violence, or to have a loved one unexpectedly perish.

What happens after trauma

After an injury, some girls might feel depressed, start drinking or using drugs, or develop PTSD.

Girls are prone to experience sexual assault.

Sexual assault is more likely to cause PTSD than a number of other occasions.

Women may be more inclined to blame themselves for trauma experiences than guys.

Why are some girls at higher risk for PTSD?

Not all girls who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. Girls are more likely to develop PTSD if they:

Have a past mental health problem (for example depression or stress)

Experienced a very serious or life-threatening injury

Were assaulted

Were injured during the event

Had a severe response at the period of the occasion

Experienced other stressful occasions after

Don't have great social support

What PTSD is like for women

Some PTSD symptoms are somewhat more prevalent in women than guys. Girls are more likely to be jumpy, to have more trouble feeling emotions, and to avoid things that remind them of the injury than men. Men child abuse from PTSD are really more likely to feel angry and to have trouble controlling their anger then girls. Women with PTSD are more likely to feel anxious and depressed, while men with PTSD are prone to possess problems with substances or alcohol.

Treatment for PTSD

There are excellent treatments for PTSD. Nonetheless, not everyone who experiences a trauma seeks treatment. Girls might be more likely than men to find help after a disturbing event. At least one study found that girls react to treatment as well as or better than guys. This might be because girls are usually more comfortable talking with others than guys about personal matters and sharing feelings.

Girls in the military

Although men are more likely to experience combat, a growing variety of women are now being exposed to combat. Girls in the military are at higher risk for exposure to sexual harassment or sexual assault than guys.