Overcoming Community Trauma

by Roberto Katz

During 2016, the city of Orlando suffered community trauma from an event that has lasting effects on subsequent generations. The shooting tragedy at the Pulse nightclub affected several communities and several individuals with intersectional identities. Many of the survivors and those affected by the tragedy came from communities that already had accumulated historical trauma.

An event of this nature not only traumatized the LGBTQ+ community, the Latin community, and the LatinX community, it re-traumatized them. As we raise future generations, we are at risk of passing this historical trauma to them. Therefore, it is vital to heal as a community. Those who address and treat this trauma will not only help themselves, they will also protect the future of those who follow.

Recommendations For Healing Community Trauma

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) regards community trauma and violence as a preventable issue. In this respect, they provide a series of recommendations that can be used as tools to facilitate healing:

– An emergency-room based violence interruption and retaliatory prevention program.

– A city mural arts program to bring residents together. Simultaneously, transforming physical space along with mindsets and attitudes regarding people across race, age, and neighborhood.

– Law enforcement training on crisis intervention and trauma; districts creating trauma-informed schools and identifying the impact of uneven discipline practices across diverse populations.

– County public health department employee training in trauma-informed care.

– Neighborhood and faith-based leadership providing better supports for people re-entering the community after incarceration.

– The use of media and public events to highlight the power of peer support.

Help Yourself to Help Your Community

Even in 2020, Orlando is still healing as a community. This is reflected in the events that routinely take place throughout the city – in the History Center, outside of Pulse, at Lake Eola, and other locations. These public events are helpful, however, treating community trauma starts with the individual.

We can help our community through our actions and volunteer efforts, but we must make sure that we are taking care of ourselves first. Please, assess your level of functioning and symptoms before helping. We can only be effective helpers if we take care of our own wellness first.