Safe + Sound Blog

Trauma Triggers and COVID-19

Why Can’t I Cope?

By Ana Diaz Lopez, MA, MSW, LSW
Director of Programs

For many survivors of a recent or past trauma, crisis like the coronavirus pandemic can trigger stress responses and exacerbate symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For some, symptoms may come and go – returning when triggers or reminders of past traumas cause a flood of feelings and memories. While some triggers are obvious, others may be subtle and difficult to recognize. These triggers can lead to feelings of intense fear that may be debilitating or create difficulties in coping.

The COVID-19 crisis has been collectively challenging. Overnight, life as we knew it changed and much of our stability was replaced with uncertainty. Survivors of trauma, including those who may be experiencing domestic violence currently or those who witnessed domestic violence in their home as  children, may notice new or increased symptoms of PTSD and difficulty coping. Unresolved traumas that had not caused noticeable difficulties previously may suddenly interfere with an individual’s daily functioning.

Changes in routine, such as increased stress from changed work demands, loss of work, and new parenting demands, can cause feelings of instability and loss of control. Social distancing practices may remind those who have experienced domestic violence of the forced isolation of their abusive relationships. Distance or separation from one’s support system can create difficulties in coping. Additionally, fear for one’s safety or the safety of one’s family during a time of uncertainty can trigger intense fear and worry. 

While each survivor’s experience is unique, some things you may notice are:

  • Increased difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Excessive fear or worry
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Increased loss of concentration

Pre-pandemic, approximately 80% of the adult and child survivors who sought help from us met the criteria for PTSD, experiencing the same symptoms as combat veterans. Safe+Sound Somerset offers several different treatment options of individual counseling to address the trauma of adult and child survivors of domestic abuse. Prolonged Exposure (PE), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior (TF-CBT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are evidence-based modalities designed to facilitate recovery from trauma. At completion of a program, free of PTSD, survivors exhibit improved decision-making abilities, are more present in their lives, and make and carry through plans for their future.


See Also: Collective Trauma of COVID-19


If you or someone you know is experiencing increased difficulties coping with trauma triggers and has a past or recent history with domestic abuse, please reach out. S+SS’s trauma-informed, evidenced-based treatments can help you cope. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, contact our 24/7 call and text hotline at 866-685-1122. Additional information is also available at