In 1980 it was thought traumatic events were outside the range of usual human experience.

But rape, battery, and other forms of sexual and domestic violence are so common as a part of women’s lives.

They can hardly be described as outside the range of ordinary experience.

Military trauma, too, must be considered a common part of human experience; only the fortunate find it unusual.

Unlike commonplace misfortunes, traumatic events generally involve threats to life or a close personal encounter with violence and death. At the moment of trauma, the victim is rendered helpless by overwhelming force.

When the force is that of nature, we speak of disasters.

When the force is that of other human beings, we speak of atrocities.

Traumatic events overwhelm the ordinary systems of care that give people a sense of control, connection, and meaning.

Trauma is an affliction of the powerless.