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Building Trauma- Informed Communities

Community Health Workers experience a lot of people who are survivors of trauma. The reality of life shows us in the media every single day just how many people experience trauma. We see it in their actions and behaviors and how it effects our communities and households. Most of all it truly takes a village to help one another to understand how important it is for us to obtain the knowledge, education and informed care from those who have the resources that will actually help us to survive in a way where we can help not only our own lives but the lives of others.

I am a survivor of many things, breast cancer, heart attack, domestic violence, mental and physical abuse, racism, bullied and hated in my own home/community, homelessness as well as a survivor of losing my own children and continued healing in these areas. Which makes it easy for me to talk, gain trust and support those who are going through such traumas.

There are 5- core components of a trauma- informed approach to domestic violence. How can we help as CHWs lets' explore the simple, easy and caring steps:

  1. Provide survivors with information about the traumatic effects of abuse.

  2. Adapting programs and services to meet survivor's trauma-and mental health-related needs.

  3. Creating opportunities for survivors to discuss their responses to trauma.

  4. Offering resources and referral to survivors.

  5. Reflecting on our own and our programs to make things better for those survivors.

See we may not be aware of what is in the mind of a s

urvivor, they may believe that it is a sign of strength to be able to withstand extreme difficulty without complaining. However, it is better to seek help and seek it as soon and as safe as possible. This could save your/their life. Some may not seek help because the silent endurance is connected to their spirituality, dedication to family/spouse or could be their religious belief to remain silent. We as CHWs must without pressuring the client understand that there are natural ways that the human mind and body respond to stress and pressure that can help them know and believe that those thoughts are a sign of weakness. It takes considerable strength to speak up. I did not speak up until I wrote my book "A Girls' Cry In the Dark".

CHWs can also discuss the importance of counseling, our communities do not believe, or may be embarrassed to attend a counseling or group session, but that de

cision is very powerful for a survivor. At which sessions they will discuss the link between lifetime trauma, domestic violence and mental health. It is important that they/us know that emotional or mental health effects of domestic violence and ways that these responses or lack their of can interfere with accessing safety, processing information once approached, or remembering the details of the actions of the person causing the stress or trauma. Many discussions will take place in a trauma-informed program such as trauma, ability to trust, manage feelings, discuss the things that abusers may do to make them feel crazy, the abusers use mental health issues of their own to control their partners.

What we need to do to meet the survivor's trauma-and mental health needs.

As CHWs we must also become sensitized to the effects of trauma and the need to provide inclusive services and adhere to polices that work for the survivors. There are many programs that are available.

Here is a resource that will provide you with the support you need not only to help your client but also help you to create a program around Trauma-Informed care and services that will help you in this area of expertise if you are called to do more as a community health worker and beyond.

National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health

Phone: (312) 726-7020

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