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Disenfranchised trauma: What is it?

October 17, 2021

Special note and trigger warning: The following article discusses trauma, illness and death. Please use your discretion upon reading.

For something to be disenfranchised – is for it to be NOT socially acknowledged and to be silenced – shut out and shunned. It is the unacknowledged and silencing that causes the disenfranchisement.

The disenfranchisement of experiences related to any kind of loss is disenfranchised grief. Beyond this loss and disenfranchised experience, can be found disenfranchised trauma. All the highly emotive and silenced aspects of what has happened with COVID, can be considered disenfranchised trauma.

Trauma, itself can be a serious physical injury, a disordered psychic or behavioural state caused by mental, emotional or physical injury, an emotional upset, or a force, agent or mechanism that causes trauma (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2021).

For more about disenfranchisement and disenfranchised grief, you can see that article here: (Doka, 2002; McDonald, 2008/2021).

It is with important to distinguish disenfranchised grief, which is all about loss and bereavement, separately to disenfranchised trauma.

Trauma can therefore be many things and it doesn’t always result in loss, though often, grief accompanies trauma and trauma can accompany grief. Therefore, the focus here is specific to discuss disenfranchised trauma as a separate phenomenon to disenfranchised grief.

There have been many examples of disenfranchised trauma over the past two years that humans have experienced. Some examples are; the bushfires – that were unable to be properly worked through as a community, COVID-19, the disease that has killed and injured so many – starting from deaths and injuries from the COVID-19 illness, vaccination deaths, vaccination injuries, workplace bullying, government heavy-handed lockdowns, and more.

Even our collective trauma has become disenfranchised – which means though we may be ‘in this together’ – when we actually are not – courtesy of a lack of communal and community discussions, lack of capacity to have connection with other humans, and the continuous exposure to death, destruction and horror over social media and mainstream media.

As a community, we need more connection across ALL aspects of the community, in order for us all to heal, no matter what anyone’s belief system is, or how you’ve adjusted to life post-COVID. It’s essential to find an open-minded counsellor to discuss your needs. I’m happy to help you work through the complexity of these trying times.


Doka, K. (ed). (2002). Disenfranchised Grief: New Directions, Challenges, and Strategies for Practice, Champaign; Illinois: Research Press.

McDonald, R.T. (2021). Miscarriage: Disenfranchised grief. Retrieved from

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2021). Definition of trauma. Retrieved from

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