Acknowledging the trauma, and coming to terms with what happened – what cops need to do to stay alive


This article was written in conjunction with the medical community. Follow the writer on Twitter.

Nationwide: Experiencing a severe traumatic event can cause lasting psychological effects. Feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, or even afraid of what lies ahead on the road to recovery is natural.

Our brains have an incredible capacity for adapting and healing, but that does not minimize the toll this process can take on us – physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Trauma in the law enforcement profession is expected just as calluses on the hands of construction workers are expected. When officers don the uniform and start their tour of duty, they go from one troubling call to the next – which takes on toll on them long term.

This happens day in and day out.

Case Study

Suppose you are still coming to terms with a traumatic experience. In that case, making the right choices is essential to maximize your chances of making meaningful progress towards healing both today and in the long-term future.

In this medically driven article, we will explore how psychological processes work when faced with trauma, such as physical pain or emotional suffering, how counseling can help support recovery efforts, and guide steps that can be taken immediately.

Hence, you start getting back on your feet again soon.

That is what will help you lead and happy and balanced lifestyle. By not ignoring trauma, but by learning how to process it.

The trauma of a traumatic experience can often be overwhelming and hard to come to terms with. It is essential to take the time, space, and support needed to move through all stages of healing. Here we discuss the six stages of trauma that one must go through to reach acceptance.

Acknowledging the trauma, and coming to terms with what happened - what cops need to do to stay alive

The 6 Stages

  • Shock: This is an immediate reaction to the trauma, a feeling of disbelief or numbness. It is an emotional shutdown that can help shield one from the full impact of what has happened. This stage can last for days, weeks, or longer.
  • Denial: In this stage, one may not accept that the traumatic event occurred and may minimize its effects. This is a coping mechanism that helps one avoid feeling overwhelmed by the situation and can be used to avoid dealing with the trauma.
  • Bargaining: At this stage, one may try to negotiate with themselves or others to make sense of what has happened and find ways to cope with the trauma. This usually involves trying to find a solution or an outcome that is more palatable than the reality of the situation.
  • Anger: In this stage, one may feel overwhelmed by anger and frustration as one grapples with what has happened and comes to terms with it. This can be expressed verbally or through physical actions such as self-harm or destructive behavior.
  • Depression: In this stage, one may feel overwhelmed by sadness and despair as they come to terms with the reality of what has happened. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness and helplessness, as well as an inability to engage in activities that were once pleasurable.
  • Acceptance: This is the final stage of trauma recovery, where one can accept and move on from what has happened. To reach this stage, one must take the time and space to process their emotions and find ways to cope. It also requires finding new sources of strength and support to move forward positively.


By recognizing these trauma stages and taking the necessary steps to move through them, one can reach a place of understanding and acceptance. Suppose you or someone you know is struggling with the aftermath of a traumatic experience. In that case, it can be helpful to seek professional support. A counselor or therapist can provide an empathetic, supportive environment to process the trauma and help one move toward healing.

If any of this sounds familiar to you or someone you know, check with your department for resources for dealing with trauma. Thankfully, the veil of secrecy for law enforcement officers discussing trauma and post traumatic experiences is being lifted.

If is no longer a subject that is to be ignored, or if not ignored is a sign of weakness or that ‘something ids wrong with you.’

Pursue different healing and coping mechanisms to learn how to process trauma. Your life may depend on it.


Jowett, S., Karatzias, T., Shevlin, M., & Hyland, P. (2021). Psychological trauma at different developmental stages and ICD-11 CPTSD: The role of dissociation. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation23(1), 52–67.

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Acknowledging the trauma, and coming to terms with what happened - what cops need to do to stay alive

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