Historical Trauma

"Knowledge and resources about the impact of trauma on the individual, organization, and community levels are powerful tools for those searching for the words and pathways to healing."
- Monika Johnson Hostler, Executive Director, North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault


Why is healing from collective trauma critical for our social justice efforts?
VAWnet: Online resource library on gender-based violence
Authored by Patty Branco, Senior Technical Assistance & Resource Specialist for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, this article discusses collective and historical trauma, covering both background information and specifics of groups that experience historical trauma. The article is presented through a social justice lens, with an emphasis on resiliency to strengthen community healing. It includes an excerpt from a video by Dr. Joy De Gruy defining Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome.


We acknowledge that materials on this page do not do justice to the vast and diverse experience of historical trauma, across and including all communities who have experienced oppression. We have included resources that address historical trauma generally and some identities specifically. After an extensive search, it is clear that more research and resources that bring a culturally specific lens and perspective to trauma are needed. As with the entire site, JDI will update this content as additional resources are identified, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Addressing Mental Health Risk Factors
Advancing Excellence in Transgender Health
This PowerPoint presentation identifies the risks and trauma facing Transgender people, and explores strategies for increasing access to trauma-informed supports and treatment options.

Allies in the Struggle: Intersectional Work as Trauma-informed Response and Prevention
This presentation developed by Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance
describes systemic and institutional racism in America and its impact on people of color experiencing sexual and intimate partner violence. Integrating a racial justice lens in advocacy work is critical to becoming allies with survivors of color who live at the intersections of racism, sexism, and other oppressions.

Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation
Authored by Beth E. Richie, this book outlines how Black women face
particular threat and violence. Race and culture have not been adequately considered in the analysis of gender-based violence. Richie outlines policy implications and a call to action for change.

Center for American Progress Report
The Unequal Toll of Toxic Stress: How the Mental Burdens of Bias, Trauma, and Family Hardship Impact Girls and Women
Written by Janet Warner, this report cites the ways in which women and girls of color are disadvantaged through racial inequities in education, communities and workplaces. Links to primary source research are included.

Collective Trauma
Healing Collective Trauma Project
A website dedicated to healing historical trauma from a cross-cultural perspective. There are interviews, articles and videos as well as additional resources provided by other professionals in the field of trauma care.

Discovering Our Story – Listening to our Elders
The first lesson of five on historical trauma and the experience of Indigenous peoples. This page offers a basic understanding of historical trauma as well as ways for Indigenous peoples to cope with trauma.

Historical Trauma and Geriatrics – Stanford School of Medicine
Stanford’s page on Historical Trauma details different occurrences of historical trauma among Alaska Natives. It explores the different eras of Alaskan colonization and disasters that resulted in a shared trauma for the population, such as the Exxon-Valdez oil spill.

Historical Trauma and Micro-aggressions – ACES Connection – A Community of Practice Social Network
ACEs Connection (Adverse Childhood Experiences) is a social network that accelerates the global movement toward recognizing the impact of adverse childhood experiences in shaping adult behavior and health, and reforming all communities and institutions — from schools to prisons to hospitals and churches — to help heal and develop resilience rather than to continue to traumatize already traumatized people. This link on their website offers a catalog of links to articles on the subject of historical trauma and micro-aggressions.

Historical Trauma as a Public Narrative: A Conceptual Review of How History Impacts Present-Day Health
From the National Center for Biotechnology Information
Abstract of an article that is a critical review that integrates the literature on historical trauma in order to specify theoretical mechanisms that explain how historical trauma influences the health of individuals and communities.

How to Heal African-Americans’ Traumatic History
This article offers a perspective on how the current oppression of African-Americans is connected to past trauma of slavery and lynching, and the potential for healing by learning about history.

Impact of Historical Trauma on African Americans and its Effects on Help Seeking Behaviors
This resource provides background on historical trauma, who is affected by it and how it can manifest. There is also information about why people who have experienced collective trauma might not seek help or be wary of those offering services.

Impact of Violence at the Intersections of the Margins
Sponsored by the National Latino Network and presented by Olga Trujillo, JD, this webinar tells a personal story to explore how poverty, language, culture, religious beliefs, and immigration combined create trauma and opportunities for trauma-informed responses.

Indian Country Child Trauma Center
Historical Trauma Among Native American Populations: What Providers Need to Know
This resource outlines the various dynamics service providers might encounter while working with Indigenous peoples. It was created to inform providers on how to improve the quality of care, treatment and services for Indigenous youth who have experienced trauma.

Dangerous Intersections
Incite! is a network of radical feminists of color organizing to end state violence and violence in homes and communities. This subpage provides an overview and analysis about how gender-based violence serves as a tool of racism and colonialism.

Intergenerational Trauma – Social Work Today
Multiple generations of families can transmit the damage of trauma throughout the years. Social workers must be aware of and detect the subtle and not-so-subtle effects on a family, a community, and a people.

National Clearinghouse for Abuse in Later Life (NCALL)
Reclaiming What is Sacred: Addressing Harm to Indigenous Elders and Developing a Tribal Response to Abuse in Later Life

This report examines the intersections of aging and abuse in tribal communities. The authors, Lauren J. Litton, I.S.P. Consulting and Victoria Ybanez, Red Wind Consulting, Inc. describe historical trauma impacts on elders, and actions to address the needs of indigenous elders and their communities.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Part of the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is dedicated to “the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.”

The Native Wellness Institute
The Institute is dedicated to promoting well-being for Native people through programs and trainings that focus on and use the teachings and tradition of their ancestors. The website lists the services, trainings and programs provided by this organization.

Our Pulse: On Residual Trauma Facing LGBTQ Latinx Communities
Article identifies the Pulse shooting in Orlando as an act of hate violence targeting Latinx people, a gender-inclusive term to acknowledge people of Latin American heritage or descent. LGBTQ Latinx-identified community organizers, advocates, and nightlife promoters discuss the anticipated, residual trauma that will face Latinx communities. Also translated into Spanish.

Racial Equity & Liberation Virtual Learning Series
Move to End Violence
6-week online learning community to explore racial liberation

Racial Injustice and Trauma: African Americans in the US
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was launched by the U.S. Congress in response to increasing recognition of the widespread and long-term impact of exposure to violence and traumatic events in childhood. The NCTSN mission is broad, encompassing all ages, service systems, and trauma types. The mission of the NCTSN is framed primarily around the needs of individual children and families and the providers who serve them.

The Return to the Sacred Path: Reflections on the Development of Historical Trauma Healing
This slideshow by Dr. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart describes historical trauma, historical trauma theory and unresolved grief intervention. The slideshow offers examples of community healing, relevant video segments, and the formation of the Takini Institute, which focuses on reducing the suffering of Indigenous Peoples experiencing historical trauma.

Trauma May Be Woven into Native Americans – Indian Country Today Serving the Nations Celebrating the People
This article explains the concept of epigenetics, which proposes that genes passed through generations can carry memories of trauma experienced by ancestors and influence how the following generations react to trauma. Epigenetics literally translates to “above the gene,” and the Academy of Pediatrics has reported that the way genes work determines neuroendocrine structure and is strongly influenced by experience.

Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Individuals
By Amy E. Ellis Ph.D

Trauma-Informed Approaches for LGBTQ Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence
A Review of Literature and a Set of Practice Observations
Authors: Erin C. Miller, M.P.S., M.D.V., Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault; Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Lisa A. Goodman, Ph.D. Boston College, Kristie A.Thomas, Ph.D, Simmons College, Alex Peterson, University of British Columbia, Jillian R Scheer, M.A. Boston College, Jule. M. Woulfe, M.A. Boston College, Caroel Warshaw, M.D. National Center on Domestic Violence, Mental Health, and Trauma, Principal investigator: Curt Rogers, M.P.A GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project.
The literature review helps set the context for thinking about trauma-informed practice for LGBQT communities, including focuses on trauma, mental health, and resilience, systemic, institutional, and individual-level barriers that thwart LGBQT* peoples’ access to informal and formal support services.

White Supremacy and Gender-Based Violence: How They Feed Each Other and What We Can Do About It
This Virginia sexual and domestic violence coalition Alliance in Action blogpost by director Kate McCord outlines the intersections between white supremacy and gender-based violence, and how SDV organizations can actively engage in racial justice work.


Absorbing Trauma by Osmosis: Holocaust Memory Across Generations

Absorbing Trauma by Osmosis: Holocaust Memory Across Generations
In this 5 minute talk from the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, Leela Corman, graphic artist, describes her experiences as the granddaughter of Shoah survivors and talks about the different ways in which each of her grandparents reflected upon and transmitted their stories.

How Do People Experience Historical Trauma

How Do People Experience Historical Trauma
Created by the University of Minnesota, this 6-minute video discusses how people experience historical trauma and the lasting effects on individuals as well as communities.

Healing from Trauma and Abuse in the Native American Community (Recorded workshop presentation)

In this 2 hour presentation by the Native American Health Center, Dr. Art Martinez (Chumash), Clinical Psychologist outlines strategies to heal from trauma and abuse.

Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome
Dr. Joy De Gruy, author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome
In this 90-minute lecture, Dr Joy De Gruy presents researched-based connection between slavery and trauma in video. Published in September 2016.

The Urgency of Intersectionality

The Urgency of Intersectionality
In this 2016 TedTalk, Kimberle Crenshaw reviews the term “intersectionality” that she coined to describe how our overlapping identities relate to experiences of structural racism and oppression, and expresses its urgent relevance today given state violence toward people of color.

What Is Historical Trauma

What is Historical Trauma
This 5-minute talk describes historical trauma as a collective, cumulative emotional wounding across generations resulting from cataclysmic events such as slavery, colonization, or the holocaust.