My latest research explores trauma-informed care from a religious ethics standpoint. Psychological trauma is a spiritually disruptive experience. To accompany someone through the aftermath of trauma, we need to be willing to talk about God. In the article, “Bearing Witness as Social Action: Religious Ethics and Trauma-Informed Response,” I provide guidance for caregivers and other service providers. Trauma-informed care can become a form of social action in solidarity with the survivor. I use the framework “bearing witness” to describe this action.
Keywords: psychological trauma; trauma-informed care; interpersonal trauma; spirituality; bearing witness; religious ethics; solidarity; social action; Judith Herman; relational model; pro-cess theology
This article is a Feature Paper in the inaugural issue of the journal Trauma Care. Feature Papers represent the most advanced research with significant potential for high impact in the field. Feature Papers are submitted upon individual invitation or recommendation by the scientific editors and undergo peer review prior to publication. This type of paper provides an outlook on future directions of research or possible applications.
Table: Bearing Witness in Four Moments
|Perspectival Moment||Mode of Transcendence||Moral Theme||Practice of Social Action||Trauma-Informed Response (SAMHSA)||Stage of Trauma Recovery (Judith Herman)|
|I. Existence||recognition||dignity||grounded being||realize||overcoming relational barriers|
|II. Present||empathy||love||attentive presence||recognize (identify and name)||safety|
|III. Past||memory||justice||historical clarity||respond||reconstruction of narrative|
|IV. Future||imagination||solidarity||meaningful participation||resist||reconnection and restoration|
“Bearing Witness: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Christian Ethics.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 39 no. 1 (2023): 155–74. doi:10.2979/jfemistudreli.39.1.10.
“Bearing Witness as Social Action: Religious Ethics and Trauma-Informed Response.” Trauma Care 1, no. 1: 49-63. https://doi.org/10.3390/traumacare1010005
Bearing Witness in the Kin-dom: Living into the Church’s Moral Witness through Radical Discipleship. New York: United Methodist Women, October 2020. ISBN: 9781952501043.
Teaching Sexuality and Religion in Higher Education: Embodied Learning, Trauma Sensitive Pedagogy, and Perspective Transformation, co-edited by Darryl W. Stephens and Kate Ott. New York: Routledge, 2020. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429327162.
“Trauma-Informed Pedagogy for the Religious and Theological Higher Education Classroom.” Special issue Reflecting on the Possibilities of Religious Education Research. Religions 11, no. 9 (2020): 449. doi:10.3390/rel11090449.