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Sunday, March 8 • 8:30am - 9:45am
Addressing the needs of women survivors of child abuse: The ethical, socio-political and professional imperative of trauma-informed care

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Interpersonal trauma has a broad range of physical, social and mental health consequences, which poses a heavy and largely unrecognized burden on our healthcare, social service and criminal justice systems. Interpersonal trauma experienced in childhood has especially pernicious consequences. In this paper, we address the problem that traumatized women are vulnerable to receiving suboptimal healthcare and social services especially when they have a history of chronic traumatization, such as childhood sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect. To remedy this, our healthcare and social service systems must deliver trauma-informed care. Although there is a growing recognition of the need for trauma-informed care within healthcare and social services, there continues to be an under-recognition and lack of appropriate care for trauma survivors. Without the requisite knowledge, providers cannot practice in a professionally competent way and cannot provide adequate client-centered care because care needed may never be provided and "care" provided may be neither effective nor efficient. Drawing on feminist philosopher, Iris Young’s social connection model that explicates that certain suffering is socially caused, we argue that providing trauma-informed care is an ethical, socio-political and professional imperative. We also argue that trauma-informed care is a form of restorative justice by providing opportunities for women trauma survivors to receive the care they need and, in the process, have a reparative experience of validation and empowerment. While clinicians and professional bodies have a special responsibility to increase trauma recognition and response in all aspects of care for trauma survivors, we will argue that there is also a broader ethical and socio-political imperative to share this responsibility. The responsibility to ensure that trauma-informed care is provided extends beyond individual practitioners, relevant health professions and health systems to citizens, governments and global health and human rights initiatives. Our collective “responsibility for justice”—best understood through Iris Young’s “social connection model”—is what’s required.

Sunday March 8, 2015 8:30am - 9:45am