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Acute Stress Reaction

Acute stress reaction is the psychological response to being exposed to a terrifying or traumatic event.  Acute stress reaction generally is what is diagnosed within the first thirty days after exposure to the event.  Some of the symptoms of acute stress are disassociation, detachment, avoidance of things which remind you of the incident and constant replaying of the incident.  During this time it is important to seek help from a trained psychological professional.  Studies have shown if treatment is made within the first thirty days the onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be lessoned or even prevented.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD has some of the same symptoms of acute stress reaction.  The difference are the symptoms last for longer than thirty days past the event.  It is important to note PTSD can be attributed to a culmination of  traumatic events.

Secondary Traumas


Secondary trauma occurs after the original incident.  Secondary trauma generally occurs due to stress put on the officer from outside sources related to the incident such as media, peers, family, and the manner in which the administration chooses to manage the incident afterward.  Many times the secondary trauma is worse for the officer than the initial incident.  The response from the officer’s administration greatly affects their recovery.  When the officer’s agency fails to protect or assist the officer it causes what is known as Betrayal Trauma.

Betrayal Trauma can be caused by the officer’s agency or governing body failing to support an officer after the original trauma occurs.  Cities tend to succumb to political and media pressure, during which they tend to overreach the investigation with assumptions or misguided community loyalties that often turn those we serve against the officer.

Our own communities who we have sworn to serve begin to judge, calling for justice prior to the completion of an investigation, essentially resulting in the officer being tried in the media without the forum to defend himself or herself. That feeling of powerlessness can drive officers into a downward spiral that, more times than not, ends in catastrophic events such as divorce and ultimately suicide. The officer’s deterioration doesn’t go unnoticed; fellow officers and supervisors fail to speak up, afraid to hurt a brother officer’s career when, in fact, they could be saving a career and the officer’s life.

How We Can Help

The staff members at PISTLE have been down this road and we want to help you avoid it.  We have insights to the recovery process as well as the pitfalls that are out there.  We network with individuals to help in labor law, worker’s compensation, mental health, and the retirement process if you so chose. For more details about how we can help you click below:

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