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ISTSS Briefing Paper Addresses the Trauma of Hate-Based Violence

CHICAGO, IL, December 5, 2019 – The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), the leading global organization promoting the advancement and exchange of knowledge about severe stress and trauma, has released a briefing paper on the traumatic impact of hate-based violence. Manifestations of prejudice and hate occur all over the world, and there is an urgent need to understand and respond to the mental health needs of survivors and communities affected by this type of violence.

“This briefing paper summarizes what we know about the profound effects of hate-based violence on individuals and on their communities. It also highlights the need for more research to improve access to evidence-based treatments and prevention services for those impacted by these events,” says ISTSS President Debra L. Kaysen, PhD, ABPP.

Existing research suggests that hate-based violence is often traumatic for the survivor, the survivor’s community and society at large, but direct and systematic research on the traumatic impact of hate-based violence is still very limited and has mostly been carried out in developed countries. Understanding how hate-based violence can lead to serious and potentially chronic traumatic stress reactions can provide a framework for reducing the stigma experienced by survivors and increasing their access to effective treatments.

ISTSS recommends a number of actions to improve knowledge regarding hate-based violence and to better address the mental health needs of those affected by it:

  • Important stakeholders such as law enforcement, first responders, legal and justice system professionals, and health personnel should be trained in culturally responsive, trauma-informed methods of responding to hate-based victimization.
  • Community-based educational programs outlining the traumatic impact of hate-based violence should be developed and implemented in order to increase awareness and to support survivors in accessing recovery services.
  • Evidence-based treatments adapted to engage and effectively assist survivors of hate-based violence should be made widely available and accessible to affected persons and groups.
  • Research is needed to increase understanding and to test the effectiveness of trauma-informed treatment for the adverse physical and mental health consequences of hate-based violence.