Jamuna Rosner is a trauma informed coach, guide facilitator, and creator of Transcend: a trauma informed coaching certification program. Jamuna is a friend of mine here in San Diego, and she began her trauma informed journey over 10 years ago by supporting women around addiction and codependency. She has grown into coaching other coaches, entrepreneurs and industry leaders through their own traumas to create massive breakthroughs. Jamuna’s greatest mission is to expand trauma-informed coaching into the world by helping coaches develop the skills and confidence to take their clients deeper, and facilitate bigger breakthroughs. All while staying client centered. 

What is trauma?
I always like to describe trauma as too much, too fast, too soon for the body to process or handle. It also is something that lives in the body, and it needs a safe environment in order to come out. 

What are the different types of trauma?
Big Trauma is what most people think of when they think of trauma: war, combat war, car accidents, sexual assaults, physical assaults. A big T Trauma is something that is a big event; it usually has a beginning, middle and end. Small trauma is where someone has a lot of small traumas, and they don’t realize that that was trauma in their life. This could be things like emotional abuse, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, a breakup, someone cheating on you. The smaller traumas can compound over time and become something that’s bigger, especially if they’re not healed along the way. 

How does trauma impact our sex lives?
The number of reported sexual trauma is about 25%; that is one in four people, and that is only what is reported. So, most people have dealt with some type of sexual trauma in their life, and this has a huge impact and can create a lot of challenges in a relationship if it’s not healed or processed because a partner could do things that are triggering.

How does someone begin to heal from sexual trauma?
First of all, sexual trauma is not my speciality. I’m a trauma informed coach; I’m not a therapist. When someone has had sexual trauma, or a big, traumatic event that happens, such as an assault, I do recommend getting therapy. EMDR is really powerful for healing sexual trauma, as is somatic work. There are a couple of modalities that are very trauma informed in the therapy world, and there are therapists that aren’t trauma informed; not all therapy is created equal. So, it’s important to go to someone who actually knows how to help you process through that is really important. EMDR is a type of therapy to help someone heal from emotional distress from disturbing life experiences. If someone comes to me with that type of experience, I always recommend a secondary support system, because what can come up in session could be really big. If any coaches are listening or if you have clients like that, it’s really important to make sure they’re properly supported. So in a relationship, the first and foremost most important thing if you’ve had sexual trauma, is to get support on your own, but also to be open and honest about that with your partner so that the two of you can create safety within the relationship. If the person isn’t talking about it with their partner, then their partner could unknowingly trigger trauma. When trust is built, trauma heals. So if you don’t have that safety created with your partner, it’s going to be really hard to heal through that together. It can be really supportive to have that person be there to support you through healing.

What are your recommendations for creating safety with a partner?
What each person needs to feel safe is going to differ. The first thing I recommend is exploring what safety feels like for you, and what you need in your relationship to feel safe. Then communicate that to your partner: this makes me feel safe, this is triggering, I can’t do this thing, etc. When there’s past trauma, and especially if it’s sexual in nature, the partner really needs that safe foundation to be able to heal, not that it’s the other person’s job, because it’s definitely not, you should have outside support as well. However, if you can create that safety, then it’s something the two of you can work on together. Some people might feel safe having a hug or feeling heard, having someone be present with them. Your love languages will also speak to these. If someone’s love language is quality time, they’re going to need someone to be present and connected when they’re speaking to them about something to feel safe. If someone’s love language is physical touch, they might need someone to just hold them. It’s going to depend on the person and what their experience has been like, because it’s not going to be a blanket answer for everyone. So learn what feels safe for you. 

What does it mean to be triggered?
To be triggered means that you’re experiencing a trauma response; you are having an intense emotional or physical reaction from a memory. A trauma response is when a person goes into a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response. Basically you’re going into survival mode. Most people know fight, flight, and freeze, but there’s a fourth one called fawn, which is people-pleasing behaviors to avoid conflict and to feel safe. 

What does the flight trauma response look like?
The flight trauma response is your body telling you to get away from a danger or threat. When we think about our primal instincts, if we think about back in caveman days there were all sorts of dangers, and to survive people would flee. The flight response could also look like an avoidant behavior. If you’re feeling like your partner or someone is attacking you, then your response would be to get away. Also a person could just say, “I gotta go” and they leave. It could also look like hanging up on the phone. The basic need is you need to get away to survive. When that response kicks in, you don’t have control over it. Your brain has now gone into survival mode and you need to complete that cycle before you can come back to homeostasis. 

What does the fight trauma response look like?
The fight response is literally what it says. It’s the same response as flight, only your brain chooses to fight. Our brain is quite literally thinking like we are going to die and you have to fight to survive. Again, you don’t have control over it. Your body will choose.

Fight or flight responses in a relationship could get physical, which is obviously not ideal. This could also be raising your voice and getting really angry and going into attack mode, verbally.

What does the freeze trauma response look like?
The freeze trauma response may look like shutting down completely, going numb, not speaking, and/or disassociation. Just like the first two, the response is involuntary.

What does the fawn trauma response look like?
The fawn trauma response is to appease. It’s a codependent response. If I can get this person to agree with me, then I’m safe. The person might say, “you know what, you’re right,” or, “Oh, I’m wrong, you’re right.” or saying, “Never mind, I don’t need that anymore.” 

How do you get out of a trauma response cycle?
There are different theories on this, Peter Levine is a great person and resource for anyone who’s interested in learning more about trauma responses and the way that the body holds trauma. He created the somatic experience, and it’s the concept which talks about how the body basically holds trauma. So we have to release the trauma that’s in our body in order to move through the healing process. It could go in a lot of different ways. For instance, if you had a flight response, it could be that running would be healing for you because it’s moving the body and you’re moving the energy through your body to get it out. If your responses fight, it could be helpful to do something like punching your pillow or your bed or screaming into a pillow, something that’s a safe way of releasing anger. Freeze is a little more difficult. There is some aspect of cocooning that’s helpful. You could actually allow yourself to go into a ball under a blanket and allow yourself to be in that kind of cocoon for a short period of time. When it comes to a fawn response, I actually don’t know how you move it out of the body because it doesn’t have the same kind of feeling as the other ones. But, movement is always really supportive to move energy through the body instead of allowing it to get stuck.   A lot of people are familiar with emotions and stuffing them down and not letting yourself feel. So, if you do that, then you’re not going to be able to release whatever is coming up for you. Understanding your triggers is really important because the trigger comes before the trauma response. Then you can explore what the trigger is that got you here, and this is something that gets to heal. Again, an EMDR therapist, or a trauma informed therapist, is going to have a lot of tools for you if you struggle to release trauma on your own or if your trauma is BIG T Trauma.

Is it normal for people to not know they are beginning to trigger until after it happens?
Yes, before you can recognize a trigger in real time, it has to happen. The next step is to be able to look back and say, “Oh, this is what happened; this is a trigger.” It can be helpful to create a trauma timeline. When you are able to look at your life and look at different events, it’s helpful to see things that could possibly be triggering for you. Keep in mind that we’re keeping this on an intellectual level and traumas on a body level so it’s not going to be always understood by your logical brain.

Is it helpful to read the book, The Body Keeps Score?
Yes! It is an amazing book. It talks about how the body keeps score, quite literally. The body knows what the mind doesn’t or the mind forgets the body remembers. That’s very oversimplified for a very long book. It’s very in depth, but I do highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in trauma because it does an extensive overview of what’s going on inside the body. This is a lot of subconscious stuff. It’s not conscious. It’s not  our logical mind; we’re not able to think about it or process it through mindset work or talking it out. Talk therapy is not going to heal your trauma in my opinion, It just does not work that way. Trauma lives in the body, it lives in your subconscious. So, you can logically start to be aware of when triggers are happening, but until you understand what’s happening to your body and how to feel it on an embodiment level you’re gonna miss things.

If someone is wanting to start their healing journey, what is the first step that you really recommend most people to do?
We can only do so much on our own because trauma needs a safe place to heal and needs a safe environment to come out of the body. What a good practitioner, a trauma informed practitioner, whether that’s a coach or a healer or a therapist, what they will do is work on building trust and safety with the client. So if you are someone who’s seeking support, find someone who is going to take that time to build that trust and foundation with you. What can happen in relationships is that you can have attunement, and in that by feeling heard, by feeling seen, by feeling validated. Then your trauma can start to heal in layers. Our bodies are only going to do what we can handle at a certain amount of time. The right person is going to allow your trauma to unfold over time, as your body is ready to release it. It could take three months, eight months, a whole year. Everyone’s different. It’s going to depend on the person and how their body is willing to release things and safety. 

How do you know when you are done healing from your trauma?
In my personal experiences, and I’ve been doing this work on myself through my own exploration, therapy, coaching, healing work, etc. for 12 years now. And what I’ve noticed is as we heal, it comes off in layers. As I mentioned before, the body only releases what it can at one time. So if we heal something in the relationship sense, then something else might come up in a different sense, and then it comes up in our business, and in our health, and in other areas of our lives, which is why I say your healing journey is never done. I don’t mean that you’re broken, you’re not. But, If you want to keep reaching a new level of contentment, presence, etc. to be a healthy human, there’s going to be more and more layers that come in different waves. When something is healed, then something else comes up, so I think it’s a journey, and it’s important to remember that as a journey, there isn’t a destination. 

If you have a friend who has experienced trauma, what is a way that you can support them?
Assuming you have created safety with someone who’s a friend, the most important thing that you can do is be completely present to what they’re sharing. Hold space for that person, meaning be present to allow them to talk through something and not need to chime in or correct them or fix anything. If you have that ability, that’s really healing. It can be really, really healing in relationships to just be there and witness what someone is going through. Meaning you say, “oh, my gosh, Jordan, I’m so sorry you’re going through that? Do you want to tell me more? I’m here to listen.” And then you just listen. You can also ask the friend, do you want me to just listen? Do you want my advice or my opinion? Do you want me to help you get a solution? Just get consent before doing more than just listening.

Final thoughts
Start exploring what safety means to you? It is really important to explore what your edges are, where you feel safe, and what you’re doing that feels safe. Think about who in your life feels safe to you. What does that relationship feel like? Because that is probably a good indication of what safety feels like in your body. When you start connecting to your body and pay attention to sensations that are coming up, you will recognize when you don’t feel safe. Typically you will feel it in your stomach or chest, or another part of your body. The body tells you, but you have to listen, you have to slow down enough to listen to those little tiny cues that the body is sending you that are very easy to ignore, if you’re not looking for them.

You can find Jamuna on Instagram @jamunarosner.