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, cross-agency community collaborations, the VTRI initiative 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

VTRI Virtual Training

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.

Strategies to Address Barriers in Community Vicarious Trauma Collaborations

This training provides strategies for the creation of vicarious trauma-informed communities and the initiation of discussions among community partners who work in trauma-exposed professions.

Building a Trauma Informed Police Department Through Community Collaboration

This session provides a foundation for successful community collaboration in building a trauma informed police department, a model for a collaborative approach to building a trauma informed police department, and a demonstration of how this grassroots approach has ignited a spark both in the police department and community, creating a desire and willingness to become more trauma informed.

Creating a Vicarious Trauma-Informed Organizational Culture

The increased attention to vicarious trauma and its impact on professionals working in high trauma exposure environments has evolved significantly over the past two decades, and most attention has been given to articulating the impacts of vicarious trauma and what individuals can, and should do, to address vicarious trauma. However, these individuals all work in systems and organizations which must also be addressing vicarious trauma at supervisory and organizational levels. This session identifies some common challenges and various practices organizational leaders can implement to improve the organizational response to vicarious trauma.

Language Matters: The Interconnectedness of Language Access and Trauma-Informed Organizational Policies

The purpose of this training is to increase the audience’s understanding of the importance organizational trauma-informed practices to include both language access provisions and cultural humility responses to decrease harm and increase safety and healing for survivors of violence. These practices support the well-being and resilience of bilingual/bicultural providers who often absorb the burden of inadequate organizational practices resulting in an insurmountable workload, isolation, and burn out.

Language Access Compliance: How to Create and Implement a Bullet-Proof Plan for Language Assistance

Developing a language access plan is a vital step in defining how to provide language services. Whether your organization has a language access plan in place already or not, there is always room to improve policies and operations where communities with language barriers are involved. This workshop will walk you through key components for a successful and compliant language access plan and help you identify what important information should be in place in order to increase the ability of your organization and workforce to effectively serve individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or have limited English proficiency.

Trauma-Informed Law Enforcement Supervision

Trauma-informed supervision combines knowledge about the impact of trauma and effective supervision strategies. Through this training participants will learn more about the roles and responsibilities of a trauma-informed supervisor in law enforcement, how the cumulative impact of job-related and personal stress can influence job performance, and next steps you can take to implement or further develop trauma-informed practices as a supervisor.

The Critical Role of Middle Management in Implementing a Vicarious Trauma-Informed Workplace

Middle management is crucial in creating a trauma-informed work environment. During the session, participants will recognize the unique and critical role of middle management in supporting a trauma-informed workplace, review strategies to utilize when communicating with organizational leadership and direct reports, and discuss potential solutions to common challenges faced by middle management when implementing trauma-informed practices.

Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools

Supporting students impacted by trauma requires a whole-school approach and a growing evidence base explains why safe and supportive school cultures are necessary for the success of all students. This session will present the definition and attributes of a trauma-sensitive, safe, and supportive school; present an inquiry-based process that can guide schools in creating the school-wide infrastructure needed to provide a safe, supportive, and trauma-sensitive learning environment that is responsive to the needs of students; and share research findings related to the impact of creating a trauma-sensitive school on school staff.

Vicarious Trauma Toolkit

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

Vicarious Trauma Toolkit

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

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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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