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An Online Resource Library Supporting Professionals Ending Gender-Based Violence.

Trauma-Informed Domestic Violence Services: Understanding the Framework and Approach (Part 1 of 3)

April 01, 2013

In the past 30 years, there has been a profound shift in understanding about the impact of trauma on individuals, families, and society. A growing number of studies have documented the impact of trauma on the brain and have demonstrated that violence and trauma can affect our physical health, mental health, and relationships with others (Felitti, Anda, Nordenberg, et al, 1998De Bellis, Van Dillen, 2005;Classen, Pain, Field, Woods, 2006Lanius, Bluhm, Lanius, Pain, 2006Lyons-Ruth, Dutra, Schuder, Bianchi, 2006McEwen, 2006;Nemeroff, 2004van der Kolk, Roth, Pelcovitz, Sunday, Spinazzola, 2005Yehuda, 2006). At the same time, research on trauma and resilience, combined with what we have learned from the experiences of survivors, advocates, and clinicians has begun to clarify helpful ways to respond, both within and across cultures and communities. This emerging body of knowledge offers information that can be helpful to the domestic violence (DV) field in its work with survivors and their children.

Building on over 20 years of work in this area, the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (NCDVTMH) has put into practice a framework that integrates a trauma-informed approach with a DV victim advocacy lens. The term trauma-informed is used to describe organizations and practices that incorporate an understanding of the pervasiveness and impact of trauma and that are designed to reduce retraumatization, support healing and resiliency, and address the root causes of abuse and violence (NCDVTMH 2013 adapted from Harris and Fallot 2001). The resources compiled in these linked collections reflect this integrated perspective.

The goals of this Special Collection series are to provide:

  • Basic information about the different ways in which trauma can affect individuals and to highlight current research on effective ways to respond to trauma;
  • Practical guidance on developing trauma-informed DV programs and services; and
  • Resources that will help support collaboration between DV programs, and mental health, substance abuse, and other social services agencies and that will increase awareness about trauma treatment in the context of DV.

This is PART 1 of a 3-part collection that also includes Building Program Capacity (PART 2 of 3) and Developing Collaborations and Increasing Access (PART 3 of 3). PART 1 provides an overview of the framework and research supporting trauma-informed approaches to working with survivors and their children.  

A Note About Gender: Intimate partner violence perpetrated by men against their female partners is epidemic. At the same time, whatever a person’s gender or their partner’s gender, they may experience intimate partner violence, and gendered language can minimize the experiences of many survivors. We have attempted to use language in this Special Collection that reflects our analysis of gender oppression and other forms of oppression, as well as our commitment to serving all survivors of domestic violence.

This Special Collection was developed by the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (NCDVTMH) in partnership with the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. Contact NCDVTMH for specialized technical assistance and training on this and related topics.