Neurobiological research has shed light on the impact of adversity and chronic stress on the brain. When an individual perceives a threat to her or his safety, a complex set of chemical and neurological events known collectively as the "stress response" is triggered. Over time, survival responses that are adaptive in dangerous situations (e.g., shutting down, constantly surveying the room for danger, expecting to fight or run away at a moment’s notice) may occur whether or not danger is present. People who have experienced trauma may also become less able to regulate arousal and emotional responses. Being aware of the neurobiology of trauma can help advocates to better understand the effects of trauma on survivors and on themselves. Research on the effects of trauma on the developing brain can also help inform our responses to the needs of children exposed to DV, as well as to adult survivors who may have experienced trauma earlier in life.
Center on the Developing Child
Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child provides a wealth of information on child development and the effects of abuse and neglect on the developing brain.
Promising Futures: Best Practices for Serving Children, Youth, and Parents Experiencing Domestic Violence
This new website was developed by Futures Without Violence, formerly the Family Violence Prevention Fund, and is designed to help domestic violence victim advocates enhance their programming for children and their mothers. If you are just starting to think about how your program’s policies could better reflect an equal commitment to mothers and children, or you have been delivering holistic services for all family members for years, this website has information and tools that can help you advance your practice. More specifically, it includes a report on 16 Trauma-Informed, Evidence-Based Recommendations for Working with Children Exposed to Domestic Violence.
Trauma Information Pages
Trauma Information Pages focus on emotional trauma and traumatic stress, including PTSD and dissociation, whether following individual traumatic experience(s) or a large-scale disaster. The purpose of this site is to provide information for clinicians and researchers in the traumatic-stress field. This site includes selected full-text articles about trauma—versions of preprints, published articles, and chapters on a variety of trauma-related topics.