While many communities are working to promote health and safety, many continue to be plagued with persistently high rates of trauma. With rates of trauma and its symptoms more prevalent in the U.S. than in most other countries, trauma can be a barrier to achieving community health and wellbeing. There is a growing understanding that trauma manifests not only at the individual level, but also at the community level, through exposure to both interpersonal violence and structural violence, which prevents people and communities from meeting their basic needs. Community trauma manifests, for example, as a breakdown of social networks, relationships, and positive norms across the community.
In the video below, Dr. Howard Pinderhughes outlines the current landscape of understanding about trauma among individuals and communities, including the impacts of structural violence and historical trauma.
The Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience Framework in Action
PI develops tools and works with a number of communities to incorporate the ACE|R framework into their efforts to improve community health and safety. For example:
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, PI is working with the Health Department to use ACE|R as a core framework for an action plan to reduce the incidence of interpersonal and structural violence, and to promote community safety and resilience. CBS 58 and the Milwaukee Independent covered the January 2017 Safe MKE symposium as part of Milwaukee’s action planning process, and Fox 6 Now, the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, and other outlets covered the initiative’s launch in November 2016. Milwaukee is a member of the UNITY City Network.
In Oakland, California, as part of a national SAMHSA-funded project, PI is part of the city’s efforts to reduce trauma. PI is working with project partners to develop ACE|R training materials. Oakland is a member of the UNITY City Network.
The ACE|R report offers a groundbreaking framework for understanding the relationship between community trauma and violence. It outlines specific strategies to address and prevent community trauma—and foster resilience—using techniques from those living in affected areas.
In June 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a workshop on public health approaches to reducing and preventing community violence, and Howard Pinderhughes, ACE|R co-author, presented on the framework. The workshop proceedings are outlined in this summary brief and full publication. A video of Dr. Pinderhughes’ presentation can be viewed here.
Since the initial development of the Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience Framework in 2016, multiple networks and communities have shared it, as well as adopted, adapted and/or implemented it to address and prevent community trauma. Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: Learning from Practice reflects valuable lessons from their practice.
In November 2017, Milwaukee released its Blueprint for Peace. Grounded in the Framework, the Blueprint identifies forms of violence and structural violence and draws on community assets and best practices to focus on preventing violence, as well as intervention efforts to ameliorate the impacts of violence and prevent future perpetration and victimization.
Ohio’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is utilizing the Framework to drive its statewide opioid prevention efforts and strategy in partnership with 12 communities. They are specifically using ACE|R to build trauma-informed coalitions and identify drivers of substance misuse.
In City Heights in San Diego, CA, United Women of East Africa Support Team is addressing community trauma and building resilience in East African men and boys, using ACE|R as the organizing framework for their assessment, planning, and implementation efforts.
As one of eight communities in the California Accountable Communities for Health Initiative, the East San Jose Peace Partnership has used ACE|R as its overarching framework. This emphasis has helped the project to remain focused on community level change strategies and provided a structure for expanding its focus to address multiple forms of violence.
Bridge Housing has advanced the notion of Trauma Informed Community Building and improved outcomes for people living in public housing through implementing strategies to address and prevent community trauma.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department embraced the ACE|R Framework in its community-driven planning process to improve mental wellbeing for boys and men of color and LGBTQ youth, particularly in efforts that focus on healing as a starting point for collective action.