Words play a critical part to supporting survivors

These may be terms you recognise or that you may know the theory behind. What you may not know, is what they mean to Survivors.

Trauma Informed Care – means knowing who we are and how we respond. It is knowing the impact of our experiences and honouring the survival strength we have gained from those experiences.

Trauma Informed Principles – our experiences took things from us. Our safety, within ourselves and the spaces we live in. Those experiences took our normal developmental experience about how to trust and what trust means. Our experiences removed our choice, it told us that choice and trust is not ours to have.

  • We were taught that things are done ‘to us’ not ‘with us’, compounded by ‘treatment’ done ‘for us’. These things don’t feel like our choice and they are not done in collaboration with us.
  • Our experience removed our power to know who we are; and what we need, and when faced with healing, how to harness the power we have in our own survival. Trauma informed principles offer this back to us.

Support – means an understanding that the experience we have had is not always the main focus of support. It is acknowledging and listening to our story, if we choose to share it, but more than that - it is about being open to what we need and what helps us manage our everyday lives.

Safety – means being safe within our bodies. Safety is a place to have choice where you sit, when you meet, the choice to leave if needed. Safety is created when our bodily responses and non- verbal cues are honoured as our survival not our disengagement.

Trustworthiness - means we have to learn to trust, who to trust and who to distrust. Trust is built not simply given, and the building of trust involves finding the right care and support. Trust is built by those listening to the language we use and understanding how it fits into our lives. Having our trigger recognised.

Choice - means listening to our choices. Clear expectations create healing. Don’t vaguely offer what you cannot provide. Your role is to be clear about what you can offer, so then we can decide to offer you our healing to support.

Collaboration – means working together to set clear expectations. If I know my role and what your role has to offer, then I can have greater choice to engage. Without trust and choice, collaboration doesn’t happen. Sometimes collaboration is simply too hard, it doesn’t mean we don’t want support.

Empowerment – We, the Survivors, are the experts in our own life, even if we don’t know it yet. We need to understand how we take the power back and why it is important that we do. I may know what I need to do but I don’t always have the capacity to do it.


If you are a trauma-informed mental health professional, you can apply to be on the Trauma Support Provider Directory.