What Does It Mean to Be Trauma-Informed?

"Trauma-informed" is not just a buzz word. It's a behavior. It's important to address victims in a trauma-informed manner as you only get once chance at it.​

Trauma notifications should be provided using a trauma-informed approach, which has six key principles:

1. Safety

What do victims need to feel safe?  What are their boundaries? Safety means different things to different people. Ask the victim if they feel safe and what would make them feel safe or more comfortable. ​

2. Trustworthiness and Transparency

Be honest when responding to questions. If you can’t answer a question, explain the reason. If you don’t know the answer, say that you don’t know. 

3. Collaboration and Mutuality

Recognize your role with the victim. There may be an unspoken power differential between both of you. It may be helpful for you to discuss your role and specific purpose in a caring tone.

4. Empowerment, Voice, and Choice

Recognize the victims’ strength.​ Give victims choices, no matter how small. For example, ask the victim what name they preferred to be called by or referred to.​

5. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Uniqueness

Recognize that the victims’ needs and reactions may be influenced by culture. Ensure that cultural needs of the victims are met; if you don’t know how to do this, ask them or a leader in that culture or community. Be aware of historical trauma for the victim and their community.

6. Peer Support

Ask the victim if they have support or if there is someone that you can call for them. Ensure that all victims are given the same information as one victim is not more important than others.