People exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence may endure psychological trauma.

The person might have had direct exposure, indirect exposure, experienced repeated or extreme exposure to traumatic events.

Traumatic events could include the following: child abuse, physical assault, sexual assault, natural and human-made disasters, accidents, combat, being held hostage or in captivity, torture, hate crimes, medical trauma and indirect exposure to traumatic events impacting close others.

Experiencing a traumatic event can overwhelm a person’s capacity to cope.

This experience can lead to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The aim of trauma-informed care is to learn how to avoid retraumatising survivors.

Therefore, part of a Vincentian’s role involves being aware of the following:

It is important to deliver the assistance the survivor needs while making the survivor’s sense of control and safety a priority.

Creating a relationship that is safe can have a profoundly positive impact on the survivor.



Understanding the survivor's experience of relationships helps to provide empowering assistance by offering ‘a hand up’ to people in need.

Trauma survivors may have experienced relationships that were threatening, dangerous, violent, unpredictable, neglectful, and/or confusing.

Survivors can potentially create re-enactments of their trauma with the person offering assistance so:

The survivor and Vincentian might feel caught in the following roles: victim, perpetrator, rescuer, neglectful bystander (transference and countertransference).

Professionals advise that it is important to:

Clark, Carrie. 2015. Treating the trauma survivor : an essential guide to trauma-informed care / Carrie Clark, Catherine C. Classen, Anne Fourt, and Maithili Shetty. Edited by Catherine Classen, Anne Fourt, Maithili Shetty and Corporation Ebooks: New York, NY : Routledge.

Ford, Julian D., Jon D. Elhai, and Gilbert Reyes. 2008. The Encyclopedia of Psychological Trauma. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley. Book.