DV programs are an essential part of a community’s service network for children and families. Given the effects of witnessing domestic violence on children and youth, programs need to recognize the impact of trauma on children and youth entering their programs in addition to the needs of adult survivors. In order to adequately support healing and resiliency within children and youth in our programs and to break the inter-generational cycle of violence, we need to adopt trauma informed approaches, philosophies, policies, and advocacy.
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, A trauma-informed child- and family-service system is one in which all parties involved recognize and respond to the impact of traumatic stress on those who have contact with the system including children, caregivers, and service providers. Programs and agencies within such a system infuse and sustain trauma awareness, knowledge, and skills into their organizational cultures, practices, and policies. They act in collaboration with all those who are involved with the child, using the best available science, to facilitate and support the recovery and resiliency of the child and family.
A service system with a trauma-informed perspective is one in which programs, agencies, and service providers:
- Routinely screen for trauma exposure and related symptoms;
- Use culturally appropriate evidence-based assessment and treatment for traumatic stress and associated mental health symptoms;
- Make resources available to children, families, and providers on trauma exposure, its impact, and treatment;
- Engage in efforts to strengthen the resilience and protective factors of children and families impacted by and vulnerable to trauma;
- Address parent and caregiver trauma and its impact on the family system;
- Emphasize continuity of care and collaboration across child-service systems; and
- Maintain an environment of care for staff that addresses, minimizes, and treats secondary traumatic stress, and that increases staff resilience.
The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health’s website has a number of publications and tip sheets on developing trauma informed care for survivors and their children.
- A Trauma-Informed Approach to Domestic Violence Advocacy
- Tips for Creating a Welcoming Environment
- Tips for Enhancing Emotional Safety
- Tips for Supporting Children and Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence: What You Might See and What You Can Do
- Practical Tips for Increasing Access to Services
- Tips for Discussing a Mental Health Referral with DV Survivors
- Tips for Supporting Survivors with Reduced Energy
- Tips for Making Connections with Survivors Experiencing Psychiatric Disabilities
- A Trauma-Informed Approach to Employment Support: Tools for Practice