Organizational Trauma

"Constant exposure to violence and oppression can become embedded in the cultures of sexual assault and domestic violence organizations. Directly addressing this traumatization is essential for organizational healing."
- Pat Vivian, co-author of Organizational Trauma and Healing


Organizational Trauma and Resilience
Resource Sharing Project
Organizational self-care enhances individual self-care by creating a healthy environment for individuals. Organizational self-knowledge can render institutions more resilient in the face of challenges as it equips groups with resources and patterns to assess and strategize. A RSP PowerPoint presentation based on Pat Vivian and Shana Hormann’s work an be found here:


Dynamics of Organizational Trauma
The Tennessee Coalition To End Domestic and Sexual Violence
This Prezi slide identifies the ways that organizations can be traumatized and describes strategies to reduce trauma and build resiliency.

Healing After a Crisis
From The Positive Leader,
Summary of the work of the authors of the book “Organizational healing: Lived virtuousness amidst organizational crisis”, who used a case study approach to understand how organizations heal after an extreme or shocking event.
(source focuses on healing in a general workplace not DV/SA specific)

Guiding Organizational Responses to Vicarious Trauma: New Tools and Strategies for Success
Jane Doe Inc. Webinar Series with Kris Bein, Assistant Director, National Resource Sharing Project, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault
This webinar describes a conceptual framework for understanding how organizations are affected by traumatic events and situations, and ways that organizations expand their resiliency. This information offers insights about structures and processes that can help organizations adapt and grow, as well as directly respond to trauma.

Leading in Times of Trauma
Harvard Business Review
Though this article is from 2002, it presents a timeless concept: how to deal with trauma in an organizational setting. The article offers ways to handle the aftermath of trauma in a healthy and holistic way by giving examples of real world events and the reactions of organizations. This resource is not specific to Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault.

A Trauma-informed Approach to Employment Support: Tools for Practice
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health
This resource outlines how programs can incorporate information about trauma and mental health into the employment support provided to survivors. These guidelines help sexual assault and domestic violence programs, health care and service providers, and other systems know how best to make a survivor feel safe and valued in the work environment.

Organizational Stress as a Barrier to Trauma-Sensitive Change and System Transformation
Sandra L. Bloom, M.D. Associate Professor Health Management & Policy School of Public Health Drexel University
It is the job of the staff to become trauma-informed about the impact of past experiences on the evolution of the clients problems. But it is the shared responsibility of staff and administrators to become “trauma sensitive” to the ways in which past and present overwhelming experiences impact individual performance, leadership styles, and group performance.

Organizational Trauma and Healing
By Pat Vivian and Shana Hormann
This resource is the web version of Vivian and Hormann’s book, intended to help leaders and others understand organizational identity, culture, and trauma. Educating leaders in trauma and its impact on organizational identity is a key step toward healing and promoting healthier organizational cultures.

Organizational Trauma and Resilience Paper
Written by Pat Vivian and Shana Hormann
This four-page paper describes organizational trauma and culture in an accessible format.

Protecting Employees from Organizational Trauma
Workhuman, Globoforce
This blog post by Darcy Jacobsen outlines the causes and effects of organizational trauma and identifies strategies for building resilience into workplace to help employees rebound from organizational change. This resource is not specific to Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault.

The Sanctuary Model
Dr. Sandra L. Bloom
Every outpatient and inpatient mental health setting, child protection service, parenting program, domestic violence shelter, school, and homeless shelter today must contend with the issue of a past history of exposure to trauma in their clients. The S.E.L.F. Psychoeducational Group Curriculum is a good way to start, addressing the fundamental problems surrounding exposure to violence without needing to focus on specific individual events within a group setting.


Origins & Dynamics of Organizational Trauma

From the Tennessee Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Self Care Series
Just like people, organizations can experience trauma. Organizations can be traumatized by single catastrophic events, ongoing harms, and by the nature of working with victims of trauma. This hour-long workshop explores how organizational trauma occurs, how it affects people in the organization, and how to build resiliency.

Trauma Informed Organizations

Milicent Otieno, Chief Executive Officer of Local Capacities for Peace International in Nairobi, Kenya, Annette Lantz-Simmons, Executive Director of the Center for Conflict Resolution in Kansas City, Missouri and David Brubaker, Associate Professor at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding in Harrisonburg, Virginia talk about the necessity of being trauma-aware and how organizations might implement a trauma-informed framework. This 8 minute video was created with input from students of the 2015 Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University who were enrolled in the Strategies for Trauma-Informed Organizations course.

Ted Talk: The Paradox of Trauma-Informed Care

This 12 minute presentation by Dr. Vicky Kelly discusses the paradox of trauma-informed care. Dr. Kelly has over 35 years of experience as a psychotherapist, administrator, consultant and trainer. She is a nationally known trainer in the areas of trauma and attachment. The common thread across her career has been helping victims of trauma heal. She has been an early advocate for human services to adopt “trauma-informed care,” an approach that calls for a focus not just on someone’s behavior, but, more importantly, on what drives behavior.