Vicarious Trauma Response Initiative

Vicarious Trauma Response Initiative

Individuals responsible for responding to, and addressing, the needs of crime victims in various professional capacities are impacted by both single incident and chronic trauma exposure. Through interdisciplinary and cross-agency community collaborations, VTRI seeks to ensure that all such providers and organizations understand the impact of vicarious trauma and benefit from workplaces and communities of practice that promote their health, wellbeing, and their resilience. 

There is growing awareness that individuals responsible for responding to, and addressing, the needs of victims of crime in various professional capacities may experience vicarious trauma due to their work-related trauma exposure. This can result from both daily, chronic exposure to victims of crime, and through response to mass violence incidents that capture wider attention.

Resources and Training Opportunities

Strategies to Address Barriers in Community Vicarious Trauma Collaborations
The Neuroscience of Trauma

VTRI Virtual Training

VTRI Monthly Training Series

The VTRI Monthly Training Series is a collection of webinars conducted throughout the VTRI project available at no cost through IACPlearn. The series includes webinars on the following topics: 

  • Strategies to Address Barriers in Community Vicarious Trauma Collaborations
  • Building a Trauma Informed Police Department Through Community Collaboration
  • Creating a Vicarious Trauma-Informed Organizational Culture
  • Trauma-Informed Law Enforcement Supervision
  • The Critical Role of Middle Management in Implementing a Vicarious Trauma-Informed Workplace
  • The Implications of Work-Related Traumatic Exposure in Courts
  • Cultivating Partnerships to Support Systemic Resilience: An Emergent Approach to Trauma in the Judicial System

Additional Resources and Webinars

  • Exploring Vicarious Trauma as a Community: The purpose of this training is to lay the foundation for a common understanding of vicarious trauma, as well as shared language describing the negative and positive reactions to work-related trauma exposure. It explores individual and organizational impacts, strategies to mitigate the negative impact of vicarious trauma, and the organizational pillars of a healthy and vicariously trauma-informed organization that enables it to explore higher levels of responsiveness.
  • Brown Bag — The Neuroscience of Trauma for Dummies: Hosted by the Missoula site, this webinar presented by Dr. Colter Ellis focuses on a practical and straightforward overview of the neurophysiology of trauma. This training pays special attention to how working with traumatized populations can disrupt the autonomic nervous system and how that “secondary trauma” can impact an individuals health and relationships. 
  • Brown Bag — Collaboration: Strengthening Partnerships and Ourselves: Hosted by the Denton site, this webinar aims to inform participants about how multidisciplinary, collaborative partnerships can help mitigate vicarious trauma within organizations, and provides tips for creating and strengthening said partnerships. The webinar also discusses how these partnerships and the mitigation of vicarious trauma not only helps the wellbeing of providers, but also service provision to victims. 
  • Brown Bag — Trauma-Informed Supervision: Hosted by the Salt Lake City site, this Trauma Informed Supervision Lunch & Learn focuses on the basics of trauma-informed supervision, why it is vital for supervisors to be trauma-informed, and tools for supervisors to begin using immediately as they interact with staff.
  • Brown Bag — Psychological First Aid: Hosted by the Kitsap site, this webinar covers the topic of Psychological First Aid and how secondary trauma impacts the entirety of the human service worker, and provides strategies to assist in engaging secondary trauma and resilience building.

Other Online Resources

The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (VTT) is an OVC-funded toolkit that focuses on organizational responses to work-related trauma exposure.

The Vicarious Trauma—Organizational Readiness Guide (VT–ORG) is a tool created as a part of the VTT to help assess an organization's capacity to address vicarious trauma within their organization and discover their organization's needs. 

The Initiative

This initiative, funded by the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), provides dedicated resources, training and technical assistance to 12 communities seeking to build interdisciplinary, cross-agency collaborations to assess and address the impact of vicarious trauma on their respective staff. The goal of the Vicarious Trauma Response Initiative (VTRI) is to identify and develop skills and practices needed to promote healthy, comprehensive, and sustained collaborative approaches that buffer and mitigate the negative effects of vicarious trauma.

Community Implementation Sites

Anniston, AL

  • Lead: 2nd Chance, Inc.
  • Partners: The District Attorney's Office of the 7th Judicial Circuit, Calhoun Cleburne Children's Center, Starting Point - Sober Living Facility, Jacksonville State University OVW Project Partners, Office of Violence Against Women Campus Violence Project, Jacksonville City Police Department

Birmingham, AL

  • Lead: One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center
  • Partners: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, YWCA Central Alabama, Jefferson County District Attorney, US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Prescott House CAC, Crisis Center - Rape Response Program

Clackamas County, OR

  • Lead: Clackamas Women's Services
  • Partners: A Safe Place Family Justice Center, Clackamas County District Attorney's, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Legal Aid Society of Oregon & Victim Rights Law Center, Clackamas County Health, Children's Center, Parrot Creek, Clackamas County Juvenile Department, Safety Compass

Cleveland, OH

  • Lead: Cleveland Clinic Police Department
  • Partners: Case Western Reserve University Center of Trauma and Adversity, Cleveland Division of Police, Frontline Services 

Denton, TX

  • Lead: Denton County Friends of the Family
  • Partners: The Colony Police Department, The Denton County Criminal District Attorney's Office

Kitsap County, WA

  • Lead: Kitsap S.A.I.V.S.
  • Partners: Port Orchard Police Department, Scarlet Road, Port Gamble/S'klallam Court Services Division (tribal victim services), Kitsap County Sheriff's Office, Bremerton Police Department, CHI Franciscan - Harrison Hospital, Turning Point

Maywood, IL

  • Lead: Sarah's Inn
  • Partners: Youth Crossroads, Village of Maywood Police Department, Loyola University

 Missoula, MT

  • Lead: Missoula City-County Relationship Violence Services Department
  • Partners: Missoula County Sheriff's Office, Missoula Police Department, YWCA Missoula, Providence St. Patrick Hospital First Step Resource Center, Department of Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services, Missoula County Attorney's Office, All Nation's Health Center

Norman, OK

  • Lead: Mary Abbott Children's House
  • Partners: District 21 District Attorney's Office, Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Norman Police Department, Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center, Bethesda Non-Profit Sexual Abuse Counseling Services 

Philadelphia, PA

  • Lead: Philadelphia Children's Alliance
  • Partners: Philadelphia Police Department - Special Victims Unit, Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Philadelphia District Attorney, St. Christopher's Hospital of Philadelphia

Salt Lake City, UT

  • Lead: Division of Aging and Adult Services, Adult Protective Services
  • Partners: Salt Lake City Police Department, Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center, Utah Pride Center, Center for Persons with Disabilities, Salt Lake City Fire Department, The Urban Indian Center

Washington, DC

  • Lead: Network for Victim Recovery of DC
  • Partners: DC Metropolitan Police Department, DC Forensic Nurse Examiners, DC Rape Crisis Center, Department of Forensic Sciences, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

IACP is leading a collaborative partnership of diverse organizations and individuals to implement this project. The following four organizations, along with individual consultants with subject matter and training and technical assistance expertise, form the VTRI’s Oversight Team. They are responsible for key areas of responsibility as outlined below.

Partner Logos


ICF International, Inc.

ICF will establish and facilitate a virtual Learning Collaborative (LC) by convening stakeholders from across the Sites to create a meaningful community of practice where peer learning sessions can guide Site action plans. ICF is expert at utilizing engagement activities, video, whiteboard, document sharing and other interactive tools to optimize cross-Site learning that helps each Site translate new knowledge into actionable skills and policy changes within the context of their organizations, multidisciplinary teams and communities.

National Children’s Advocacy Center

NCAC has demonstrated leadership and devoted considerable resources to educating diverse disciplines and multidisciplinary teams about secondary traumatic stress and how to create a culture of organizational wellness and support. NCAC’s focus is on creating comprehensive Wellness Plans that includes strategies at all levels of the organization and throughout staff and team members’ employment.

Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Northeastern University is the lead evaluator for this initiative, lending its expertise in research and evaluation and specific to the issue of vicarious trauma. Northeastern’s evaluators are providing technical assistance to the Sites on conducting electronic organizational and community partnership assessments, including the Vicarious Trauma Organizational Readiness Guide (VT-ORG) and analyzing data.

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Indian Country Child Trauma Center

The Indian Country Child Trauma Center provides a culturally enhanced model of Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) for American Indian and Alaska Native children and their families who have been exposed to trauma. Their expertise in addressing the needs of those providing services on American Indian reservations and in urban areas serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities will guide the VTRI’s overall implementation efforts and the training and technical assistance needed to ensure relevance and accessibility by Sites serving these populations.

Stakeholder Group

In addition to the above organizations, VTRI is partnering with national organizations that represent diverse professional disciplines and populations the project is seeking to include among its Community Implementation Sites. These organizations have agreed to lend their unique expertise in delivering training and technical assistance to Sites once selected.

  • AEquitas
  • DC Chapter Union of Black Episcopalians
  • Esperanza United
  • Forensic Committee, International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • International Association of Forensic Nurses
  • Montana State University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity
  • National Association of Judiciary Interpreters & Translators
  • National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, & Mental Health
  • National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges
  • National Council on Interpreting in Health Care
  • National Crime Victim Law Institute
  • National Sexual Violence Resource Center
  • Safe Horizon
  • Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative
  • Ujima, Inc: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community
  • University of Montana, School of Social Work Center
  • White Bison: An American Indian Non‐Profit Corporation

For more information, please email

Sign up here to receive updates on the initiative.

This web page was produced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police under Cooperative Agreement 2019-V3-GX-K007 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, finding, conclusions, and recommendations expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice.

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