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Trauma and the Brain 

Animation - Trauma and the Brain: Understanding abuse survivors responses

Who is this animation for?

It is for any professional working with a service user when GBV is a feature in
the case.

If any of the themes in this film affect you, you can speak to a health professional, local Women’s Aid group or Rape Crisis centre.

This animation illustrates:

  • How someone who has experienced rape or sexual assault might react in a police interview
  • How a professional might respond to a service user if they do not know the effects of trauma
  • How this can affect information and evidence gathering, and attitudes to victims
  • How ‘secondary’ trauma can affect workers
  • The three main parts of the brain and what each part does
  • How the brain responds to danger – the survival instinct
  • How instinctive ‘fight’, ‘flight’ and ‘freeze’ responses protect us
  • Indicators of trauma
  • New trauma-informed techniques for professionals to use, and a demonstration

The main messages of the animation

  1. Trauma response is the brain in survival mode
  2. Repeated abuse can make trauma symptoms worse
  3. In response to trauma, people can react in unexpected ways
  4. Trauma is a normal human response to abnormal events
  5. When working with service users, start from memories and move to the present; start from feelings and then move to the facts

Why understanding trauma is important for working with people

Abuse is a traumatic experience. When a person experiences abuse, their responses to
protect them – in the short and longer term – are instinctive. Knowing how and why means that you can recognise these responses and be more effective in what you do.

For example, the animation shows how trauma affects memory recall, which is important if you are trying to investigate a crime.

Why an animation

We have produced this animation to help you in your work with service users who
have experienced GBV, and to help more professionals to understand the effects of
abuse. We are running short training sessions, but not everyone can attend these, and so this resource is a good way of spreading the training.

If you have attended the training, it will also help you to share what you have learned through your own networks and organisations.

What the resource material contains

The materials are brief and self-explanatory and include:

  • ‘Trauma and the brain’ animation
  • PDF information sheets

More information

We have produced an introductory training handout on trauma. This is available as a PDF under Related Documents on this page. You can also contact GBV Services for a hard copy of the animation on DVD.

We can also give you further information and direct you to other materials about trauma and GBV.

GBV Services
NHS Lanarkshire
Coathill Hospital, Hospital Street,
Coatbridge ML5 4DN
01236 707767
GBV Services website

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