While many in such a group will experience no effects of the historical trauma, others may experience poor overall physical and behavioral health, including depression, self-destructive behavior, poor self-esteem, marked propensity for violent or aggressive behavior, addictions, and high rates of cardiovascular disease and suicide.
Acute problems of domestic violence or alcohol misuse that are not directly linked to historical trauma may be exacerbated by living in a community with unaddressed grief and behavioral health needs. Parents’ experience of trauma may disrupt ordinary parenting skills and contribute to behavior problems in children. Compounding this familial or intergenerational trauma, historical trauma often involves the additional challenge of a tarnished cultural identity.
Clinical social workers first described historical trauma among offspring of the Holocaust survivors and the children of Japanese Americans interned during World War II.
The children and grandchildren of survivors tend to experience attachment issues and isolation from their parents.
Communities of Native Americans who experienced repeated massacres and the forced removal of children to federal and mission boarding and day schools have been attended.
Historical trauma can be described as the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma experiences. African Americans, for instance, experienced generations of segregation, institutionalized racism, and slavery that have contributed to their psychological, spiritual, and physical trauma.
For members of these communities, daily reminders of racial discrimination often exacerbate individual responses to trauma. An understudied group that has experienced historical trauma is the disability community.
People with disabilities have been subjected to biases and misrepresentations about their capabilities and lived experiences in the recent past.
Attempts to eradicate people with disabilities have included eugenics campaigns, forced psychiatric treatment, institutionalizing people with intellectual disabilities, and compulsory sterilization.