Trauma is not a destiny.
Trauma is broadly defined as experiences that produce intense emotional pain, fear, or distress, often resulting in long-term physiological and psychological consequences. Trauma can be a one-time event (e.g., natural disaster or loss of a loved one), repeated events (e.g., abuse or neglect), or a vicarious event (e.g., witnessing trauma experienced by another). Traumas can be experienced by a single individual (e.g., sexual assault) or an entire population (e.g., slavery). Experiences of trauma without adequate protective factors, especially in childhood, can change a person’s brain structure, contributing to long-term physical and behavioral health problems.
Research and the experiences shared by the TIA Toolkit Advisory Panel show that there is opportunity for healing after trauma. Traumatic experiences affect each person differently depending on their protective factors (e.g., the presence of safe and supportive adults and friends; a sense of belonging at school and/or in the community), individual strengths, and resources. The explanation for the differences in impact are often found in resilience, or one’s ability to cope with a crisis or recover from difficulty. Collective resilience are the bonds and networks that hold communities together, provide support and protection, and facilitate recovery during traumatic events. It involves celebration of culture, spirituality, civic engagement and inspires healing.
Healing-centered engagement is a useful framework to address deficit-framed perspectives of a trauma-based narrative. Healing-centered approaches are also important when considering the impact of racism on individuals, communities, and systems; healing from those experiences and history; and addressing systems of oppression.
It's not enough to provide healing care and then return them to environments that traumatize them.