Monsees & Mayer Is Trained In Trauma-Informed Communication

Thanks to Victoria Pickering (Director of Advocacy) & Tyler Lumpkin (Coordinator of Education) from MOCSA (Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault), we took our commitment to helping victims and survivors of sexual abuse to a new level. To improve the work we do with survivors on a regular basis, we needed to make sure our interactions with survivors were done in a way that allows them to feel safe while telling their story.

trauma-informed communication

The trauma is the whole process, not just the event itself. Thanks to MOCSA, we were presented with practical skills and wonderful insights. Did you know that due to the prevalence of sexual abuse in our society, almost everyone is in contact with someone who has been affected by sexual violence, whether directly or indirectly? Unfortunately, we may just not be aware of it. Therefore, we want to share some of the information we obtained from our training in hopes to encourage and educate others about the importance of being trauma-informed.

Call Monsees & Mayer today at (816) 361-5555 with any questions. We are here to help. 

Monsees & Mayer Is Trained In Trauma-Informed Communication

Thanks to Victoria Pickering (Director of Advocacy) & Tyler Lumpkin (Coordinator of Education) from MOCSA (Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault), we took our commitment to helping victims and survivors of sexual abuse to a new level. To improve the work we do with survivors on a regular basis, we needed to make sure our interactions with survivors were done in a way that allows them to feel safe while telling their story.

trauma-informed communication

The trauma is the whole process, not just the event itself. Thanks to MOCSA, we were presented with practical skills and wonderful insights. Did you know that due to the prevalence of sexual abuse in our society, almost everyone is in contact with someone who has been affected by sexual violence, whether directly or indirectly? Unfortunately, we may just not be aware of it. Therefore, we want to share some of the information we obtained from our training in hopes to encourage and educate others about the importance of being trauma-informed.

Call Monsees & Mayer today at (816) 361-5555 with any questions. We are here to help. 

What Is Sexual Violence?

In order to better understand trauma, we must first find an understanding of sexual violence and sexual abuse. Often in the world of advocacy, the terms “sexual violence” and “sexual abuse” are used interchangeably as umbrella terms for a varying degree of sexually violent and abusive acts. “Sexual violence” and “sexual abuse” can be used to refer to:

  • Rape
  • Trafficking
  • Incest
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Stalking
  • Harassment
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Unwanted contact

What Is Sexual Violence?

In order to better understand trauma, we must first find an understanding of sexual violence and sexual abuse. Often in the world of advocacy, the terms “sexual violence” and “sexual abuse” are used interchangeably as umbrella terms for a varying degree of sexually violent and abusive acts. “Sexual violence” and “sexual abuse” can be used to refer to:

  • Rape
  • Trafficking
  • Incest
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Stalking
  • Harassment
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Unwanted contact

The 3 Lenses To Use When Reviewing Sexual Violence

View the situation from their point of view – It is important to try and view the situation from the victim/survivor’s point of view. You must realize that their current behavior will be dramatically impacted due to the violence they have endured. Everyone responds to trauma differently and we can tailor our support to their individual needs.

Re-traumatization cannot be avoided – No matter how hard you try to avoid it, re- traumatization will happen. There will be a trigger that sets off a memory. All you can do is to provide a safe place for survivors when their trauma resurfaces during their recollection of events.

Focus on the needs and concerns of the survivor – It is important that the needs and concerns of the survivor be the top priority. Creating a safe and empowering environment for survivors will contribute to their safety and well-being when they are disclosing events and seeking help. This allows the survivor to have a voice in the process.

Focus on the offender’s behavior – Throughout the questions and interactions with victims of sexual violence, the main focus should be taking into account what we know about the offender. This can be accomplished by focusing on the offender’s actions and behaviors during the events, rather than questioning the victim about the way in which they themselves acted during the events. Focusing on the offender’s behaviors will provide an opportunity to broaden the scope of the investigation beyond solely what the victim has experienced.

What Is Trauma and Trauma-Informed Communication?

When assisting a survivor of sexual violence, it is helpful to look at the situation through a lens that MOCSA refers to as “Trauma-Informed.” To do this, we need a better grasp on the meaning of trauma and the ways in which it affects victims and survivors.

According to the research and information provided to us by MOCSA, trauma:

  • Can be defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience
  • Is not only a mental and emotional response, but it is a physical experience and reaction as well
  • Can physically change our brain
    • Triggers chemicals within our brain and our body that influence perception, reaction, and memory
    • Traumatic memories can become fragmented and stored in our brains differently than those of a non-traumatic experience

Trauma-Informed communication is an approach to, and understanding of, successful engagement with survivors of trauma as they navigate these difficult times. It also involves understanding the impact of trauma on physical, emotional, and mental health as well as how it effects behaviors and their engagement with offered support. Through Trauma-Informed communication, thoughtful discourse can take place with an emphasis on helping survivors.

Knowing How To Use Trauma-Informed Communication Helps

An important aspect of being trauma-informed is knowing how to better communicate and interact with victims and survivors of sexual violence. Here are some tips that we have learned through our training with MOCSA:

1. Start where the victim is!

It is important to understand where the victim/survivor is mentally, emotionally, and physically. We need to understand that they have endured an extremely traumatic event, and we need to hold ourselves and others accountable and approach them and their experience with understanding, respect, and non-judgment.

2. Talk with the survivor, do not interrogate!

When disclosing such a hurtful and deeply traumatic experience, victims and survivors need listening ears and a safe environment. It is important that they are safe and do not feel threatened or interrogated when reporting the events and seeking assistance. This takes immense amounts of courage, and it is never easy for survivors to talk about and relive the experiences, known as re-traumatization.

3. Give the victim/survivor choice!

Rather than assuming that we know what is best for the victim or survivor, ask them how they would like to proceed in the matter. Give them the option to choose what they feel is best for them at that moment. Assisting victims and survivors through a traumatic experience is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Each individual has unique wants and needs that must be taken into account every step of the way. Instead of assuming their wants and needs, ask how you can support them through. 

4. Refrain from asking “Why?”

When a victim of sexual violence or sexual abuse is disclosing the events to you, refrain from asking questions regarding WHY they were at the place they were or WHY they were around the perpetrator. This is very harmful language, and it assumes the responsibility of the crime is on the victim rather than the offender. The victim does not have to justify their actions and whereabouts for us to understand the “cause” of the assault. Questions should remain “offender-focused” as much as possible. The questions should be based on the actions and the behaviors of the offender, as the offender is the one who committed sexual violence against the victim and should hold the responsibility for the events that occurred.

As a firm who works diligently to assist victims and survivors of sexual violence and sexual abuse, Monsees & Mayer P.C. takes great pride in the education and awareness that MOCSA has shared with us. We are thankful to have had this opportunity to work with such a great organization, and cannot express enough gratitude to MOCSA for providing our team with an abundance of information to better serve our community. We are proud to say that Monsees & Mayer P.C. is Trauma-Informed.

Knowing How To Use Trauma-Informed Communication Helps

An important aspect of being trauma-informed is knowing how to better communicate and interact with victims and survivors of sexual violence. Here are some tips that we have learned through our training with MOCSA:

1. Start where the victim is!

It is important to understand where the victim/survivor is mentally, emotionally, and physically. We need to understand that they have endured an extremely traumatic event, and we need to hold ourselves and others accountable and approach them and their experience with understanding, respect, and non-judgment.

2. Talk with the survivor, do not interrogate!

When disclosing such a hurtful and deeply traumatic experience, victims and survivors need listening ears and a safe environment. It is important that they are safe and do not feel threatened or interrogated when reporting the events and seeking assistance. This takes immense amounts of courage, and it is never easy for survivors to talk about and relive the experiences, known as re-traumatization.

3. Give the victim/survivor choice!

Rather than assuming that we know what is best for the victim or survivor, ask them how they would like to proceed in the matter. Give them the option to choose what they feel is best for them at that moment. Assisting victims and survivors through a traumatic experience is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Each individual has unique wants and needs that must be taken into account every step of the way. Instead of assuming their wants and needs, ask how you can support them through. 

4. Refrain from asking “Why?”

When a victim of sexual violence or sexual abuse is disclosing the events to you, refrain from asking questions regarding WHY they were at the place they were or WHY they were around the perpetrator. This is very harmful language, and it assumes the responsibility of the crime is on the victim rather than the offender. The victim does not have to justify their actions and whereabouts for us to understand the “cause” of the assault. Questions should remain “offender-focused” as much as possible. The questions should be based on the actions and the behaviors of the offender, as the offender is the one who committed sexual violence against the victim and should hold the responsibility for the events that occurred.

As a firm who works diligently to assist victims and survivors of sexual violence and sexual abuse, Monsees & Mayer P.C. takes great pride in the education and awareness that MOCSA has shared with us. We are thankful to have had this opportunity to work with such a great organization, and cannot express enough gratitude to MOCSA for providing our team with an abundance of information to better serve our community. We are proud to say that Monsees & Mayer P.C. is Trauma-Informed.

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Helpful Information For Trauma-Informed Communication

MOCSA Crisis Line

“MOCSA’s mission is to improve the lives of those impacted by sexual abuse and assault and prevent sexual violence in our community.” MOCSA has a variety of services ranging from advocacy, counseling, education, legal assistance, and a crisis line. MOCSA’s crisis line is available in both Missouri and Kansas for individuals needing help. It can be reached at 816- 531-0233 or 913-642-0233. However, even though it is called a crisis line, it is for anyone who may have questions, need emotional support, or may simply need information or a referral. Calls are answered 24 hours a day in multiple languages.

Sexual Assault Forensic Exams

Unfortunately, not all hospitals are equipped to perform exams for sexual assault and rape. Many Missouri hospitals simply do not have the certified staff required to conduct the exams. Luckily, the Kansas City metro area has nearly 30 hospitals where a survivor can receive a forensic exam with a MOCSA advocate by their side, including:

Trauma-Informed Communication FAQs

How can I best use trauma-informed communication in my daily life?

Any and all interactions using Trauma-Informed communication should be survivor centered. What this means is that the systemic focus of communication should be on the needs and concerns of the survivor. Their safety and wellbeing should be at the forefront of any interaction. By focusing on the wrong committed by the assailant and the trauma the survivor experienced, problems such as victim-blaming can be avoided.

What steps should be taken during trauma-informed communication?

First, start by believing the survivor. Allow them the option to have an advocate present, such as those provided by MOCSA. Mirror the language of the survivor. In order to best support survivors during their ordeal, it is crucial to listen intently to what they have to say. Try to limit the number of times the survivor must repeat, and subsequently remember, their traumatic experience. Refrain from victim-blaming and remain nonjudgmental throughout your communication.

With these steps in mind, we can listen to survivors of sexual abuse and provide them to the help they deserve.

Contact Our Sexual Abuse Lawyers Today

Crimes of this nature are often underreported, so by creating an environment that allows survivors to feel safe, we can do our part in seeking justice. If you or a loved one has survived a traumatic experience of this nature, we urge you to contact us so that we may fight for the freedom stolen from you by the perpetrators.

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