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Open Doors to Safety Blog
Trauma informed advocacy means attending to survivors’ emotional as well as physical safety. Just as we help survivors to increase their access to economic resources, physical safety, and legal protections, using a trauma-informed approach means that we also assist survivors in strengthening their own psychological capacities to deal with the multiple complex issues that they face in accessing safety, recovering from the traumatic effects of domestic violence and other lifetime abuse, and rebuilding their lives. It also means ensuring that all survivors of domestic violence have access to advocacy service in an environment that is inclusive, welcoming, destigmatizing, and non-retraumatizing.”
Trauma has been defined as the unique individual experience of an event or enduring condition in which the individual experiences a threat to life or to her or his psychic or bodily integrity, and experiences intense fear, helpless, or horror. A key aspect of what makes something traumatic is that the individual’s coping capacity and/or ability to integrate their emotional experience is overwhelmed. Trauma often impacts individuals in multiple domains, including physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual. (Giller, 1999; Pearlman & Saakvitne 1995; van der Kolk and Courtois 2005).
Attributes of a Trauma-Informed Organization
- A trauma-informed program, organization, system, or community is one that has undergone a transformation in awareness about the traumatic effects of abuse and violence and incorporated that understanding into every aspect of its practice or program.
- A trauma-informed approach is incorporated into knowledge, attitudes and skills of advocates as well as the organization’s policies, procedures, and language and its support for staff.
- Any person, system or setting can be trauma-informed. DV programs recognize that survivors, staff and others with whom they interact may be affected by trauma at some point in their lives and the programs work to avoid retraumatization (replicating the events or dynamics of prior trauma).
- Being trauma-informed is the perspective that trauma-related responses are viewed from the vantage point of “what happened to you” rather than “what’s wrong with you.” It is also recognizing that many trauma responses are survival strategies.
- Trauma-informed programs are welcoming and inclusive and based on principles of respect, dignity, inclusiveness, trustworthiness, empowerment, choice, connection and hope.
In 2009, the Coalition began working with its member programs to implement trauma informed services to survivors of interpersonal violence. Our Trauma Informed Services Specialist received technical assistance through a three year project at the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health. The Coalition is committed to continuing to support and train advocates in being trauma responsive.
To contact our Trauma Informed Services Specialist email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-224-8893, ext. 317.