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How the brain is affected during trauma

Understand how your brain reacts to a trauma such as sexual assault

When a traumatic incident is taking place, it’s rare for us to be able to make sound, conscious decisions. While experiencing trauma, most decisions are subconscious and a result of a hormonal rush.

During a sexual assault, the part of the brain responsible for feeling emotions such as fear (the amygdala), recognizes threats and unleashes a chain of neural activity which allows the body to stop all unnecessary functions (such as digestion) and focus all resources on the threat at hand.

Unless you’re trained for highly stressful situations, it’s hard to choose your response

Unless trained for highly stressful situations (such as police or military forces), it is very difficult to make cognitive decisions such as fight or flight.

Our brains resort to default behaviors of survival, which may include:

To read more about the psychology of trauma, check out these links on trauma and the brain.

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