We view violence as the major public health issue of the 21st century – the threat that will determine whether we survive as a species or not.
The personal is indeed, political. In her landmark book, Trauma and Recovery, Dr. Judith Herman wrote that:
"To study psychological trauma is to come face to face both with human vulnerability in the natural world and with the capacity for evil in human nature. To study psychological trauma means bearing witness to horrible events. When the events are natural disasters or “acts of God”, those who bear witness sympathize readily with the victim. But when the traumatic events are of human design, those who bear witness are caught in the conflict between victim and perpetrator. It is morally impossible to remain neutral in this conflict. The bystander is forced to take sides (p.7)."
We believe that a vital part of our work in the world today is to bear witness to what our patients, our staff, our families and colleagues have taught us about the nature of human existence, about prevention from harm, and about creating a safer, better, healthier world. In 1998. the same year that the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study was released, we published the first book that explored the deepening connection between public health prevention strategies and trauma theory. Today, communities around the country are becoming activated to do something to stop the violence that human beings inflict on each other, and the world around us. We have a long way to go, but the evolution has begun.
Bloom, S. L. and Reichert, M. (1998) Bearing Witness: Violence and Collective Responsibility.
The Sanctuary Model offers a coherent, trauma-informed and trauma-responsive methodology and a wide variety of tools that can be useful for organizations and communities to create and sustain social structures that support both intervention and prevention.