Sprang, G. et al., (2022). Journal of Interpersonal Violence, https://doi.org/10.1177/08862605211044961
Secondary Traumatic Stress describes the phenomenon whereby individuals become traumatized not by directly experiencing a traumatic event but by being exposed to the trauma details of another. This could include hearing trauma details, seeing graphic images of abuse or trauma, having to repeat trauma details during the course of one’s professional duties, seeing the aftermath of another's trauma (e.g. children who are self-mutilating or harming, witnessing hoarding behavior, repeated exposure to trauma survivors in extreme distress, etc.). Such indirect exposure to trauma may occur in the context of a familial, social, or professional relationship. The negative effects of secondary exposure to traumatic events are the same as those of primary exposure including intrusive imagery, avoidance of reminders and cues, alterations in cognitions or mood, alterations in arousal and reactivity, and for some, functional impairment. In the most severe instances, STS symptoms may warrant a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (NCTSN, 2011: Bride, 2012; Sprang et al., 2018).