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  • Writer's pictureRachel Pereyra

Acknowledging Unseen Wounds: Understanding Workplace Trauma

“I feel weird using that word because this doesn’t count as trauma..” 

Acknowledging Unseen Wounds: Understanding Workplace Trauma by Rachel Pereyra for SOULACY Magazine

If I had a nickel for everytime I thought/said or heard this from the mouth of a woman I would be rich. Trauma is a multi-faceted word that doesn’t need to be followed up with justifications. Outside of our incredibly dehumanizing medical system, your trauma is your own and you do not need to explain it or rank it for other people. 

While, unfortunately, there are endless ways to experience trauma, I want to focus for a minute on the workplace. I recently had a coffee chat with a woman a few months into her founder journey for her new business and we talked a lot about the trauma of a bad culture and a bad boss. We commiserated on our shared trauma of working in the finance space, #financebroculture, and discussed the ways it made us feel dirty. We also similarly want to use our talents for the betterment of our world by supporting businesses on a mission to change the landscape of business. 

I share this background anecdote because out of this conversation grew a deeper one, one about the depths to which our trauma can affect us. 

That time that you got your period at work and had to do the awkward shuffle to the bathroom with a pad or tampon shoved into your waistband/shoe/bra/etc because you felt very uncomfortable even acknowledging your woman-hood in the workplace. 

Or maybe it was the time your best friend since high school died tragically and suddenly, when you called your boss to leave work you started crying and he told you everything was fine, take bereavement then refused to honor it when your paycheck rolled around. 

Maybe it was the manager who didn’t want to promote you or pull you onto a key project because ‘you just got married and will probably be pregnant soon’ or the boss who told you to ‘show some teeth’ in a sales training. 

Trauma needs no justification, not even at work

There may have even been overt sexual harassment, physical assault, and intimidation or blackmail, racism, sexism, or more happening at your workplace. 

I would love to say these are hypotheticals, but they aren’t. These are part of the highlight reel of corporate America and demonstrate why trauma doesn’t need a justification or explanation. 

That story you are holding onto that ‘doesn’t qualify’ as trauma; if one of your friends or a family member told you that story - would you consider it traumatic? Probably. 

Studies are showing that the younger generations aren’t putting up with these toxic workplace cultures and bosses anymore. This is a good sign. I for one am hopeful that this is an indication that the way of doing things will have to change. 

When I work with my clients we spend a lot of time and energy ensuring the environment that is their business is a great place to be a part of - for the founder, their team, and their clients. Seeing this many founders and a new generation of workers prioritizing mental health care, well-being, and workplace culture gives me genuine hope I won’t have to continue adding to my horror story list from corporate. 


TLDR: Trauma needs no justification, not even at work. The scope of the horrors inflicted from the corporate culture are seemingly endless, but today’s youth and wave of new founders give me hope for a healthier future.


Rachel Pereyra is a Biz Ops Expert & Human Resources Consultant working with scaling agencies and non-profits to take them to their next level.



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