Is it common for people to experience traumatic events?


Trauma can take many different forms and is far more common than one may first believe. If you want to learn a little more about traumatic experiences, click here for a quick overview. As far as how common it is for people to experience traumatic events, one study found about one third of the population will experience severe trauma at some point. Other studies have found traumatic experiences to be particularly high among children.


The most common sources of trauma, experienced by 15 to 35 percent of the people surveyed, included witnessing someone being hurt or killed, or being involved in a fire, flood, or other such life-threatening accidents. Other common experiences included robbery and sudden deaths of loved ones.

An estimated 0.5 percent of people (1.2 million) in the United States were victims of a violent crime in 2014. Researchers are also closing in on confirming the connection between the effects of racism and trauma, while the connection between urban poverty and trauma has been established.

Within the context of family law litigants, the rates of traumatic experiences are far higher in comparison to the general population. In one study, experts found the majority of parents in high-conflict divorces involving child custody disputes report a history of domestic violence. The National Center for State Courts has also established, by examining court records of domestic violence, that in 20-55% of contested custody cases, domestic violence was present.


When considering the high rates of traumatic experiences among family law litigants in New York State and outside of New York, it is critical to also examine and understand the real-world consequences trauma has on individual lives. Although outside the scope of this post, in future posts, I will touch on some of the common effects of trauma. It is critical that New York Attorneys working with such litigants are familiar with the effects to avoid behaviors that re-traumatize the client. For more on a Trauma-Informed legal practice, check out this post here!

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