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Common Re-Traumatizing Elements of Institutional Responses To Identity-Based Trauma 


  1. Deciding (instead of asking) what would be helpful for the harmed individual, and accusing the harmed individual of being difficult or demanding when they ask for what they actually need instead

  2. Failing to provide support to the community/communities of people who share the  harmed individual’s identity/identities

  3. Forcing or pressuring the harmed individual to tell and re-tell their story *not* on their own terms

  4. Placing partial or whole blame on the harmed individual for inviting or allowing the incident 

  5. Establishing an arbitrary or otherwise unreasonable timeline for the harmed individual to recover or return to a previous routine

  6. Attempting to establish parameters for expressing pain, fear, and/or grief “appropriately,” including denying or limiting the opportunity for the harmed individual to safely express emotion, especially anger

  7. Denying or limiting the opportunity for social/emotional support, including the harmed individual’s need to connect with the community/communities who share their identity/identities

  8. Minimizing or assuming the impact of the experience on the harmed individual and/or their community/communities

  9. Characterizing the incident as isolated, rare, surprising, coincidental, or unrelated to a history of systemic oppression

  10. Waiting too long to respond and provide support 

  11.  Misunderstanding safety as a universal state and not a highly subjective one

  12. Failing to hold the harmful individual(s) accountable 

  13. Failing to examine the systems and culture of the institution, which allowed for the incident to occur

  14.  Failing to take appropriate and swift action to eliminate barriers to safety in the institution (note: “safety” as defined by the harmed individual and their community/communities)

  15.  Attempting to deny, hide, minimize, or misrepresent the incident in internal or external communications with the institution

  16.  Failing to work with the harmed individual to decide how (if at all) the individual will be identified in internal and external communications about the incident

  17.  Attempting to protect the harmful individual from natural consequences and/or failing to protect the harmed individual from further harm

  18. Attempting to remain “neutral” in a way that preserves the status quo and protects harmful individuals or systems

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