Justice Begins with a Trauma-Informed Approach: Reflections and Visions

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60 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 19, 2022

Tom Tremblay
Thomas Tremblay
Chief, Burlington Police Department (Ret.)

Victims and survivors of sexual assault measure “justice” in many ways. There are evolving community expectations and demands for trauma-informed approaches to victims and survivors. This has led to new professional standards for trauma-informed care in our response, investigation, and prosecution of sexual assault cases, and more importantly, for victims and survivors; “Justice begins with a trauma-informed approach.”

The effects of trauma on victims and survivors, and the vicarious trauma experienced by service providers, are often misunderstood, misinterpreted, or ignored. Trauma-informed care is grounded in the understanding and responsiveness to trauma not only for victims and survivors, but also for service providers. We must ask ourselves how we can be expected to understand someone else’s trauma if we don’t start by understanding our own trauma.

The presenter will share his vision for utilizing trauma-informed approaches throughout the administration of “justice.” This can help build trust, that can empower victims and survivors in overcoming their reluctance to engage in the criminal justice system. It can also contribute to their immediate and long-term recovery and provide a helpful foundation for how they will measure justice – and how we can reimagine justice in our continued work ahead.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Examine the complex nature of sexual assault and the human condition of bias surrounding gender-based violence and its impact on the pursuit of justice.
  • Define trauma, historical trauma, vicarious trauma, and trauma-informed care in the context of gender-based violence and the importance of emphasizing physical, psychological, and emotional safety for victims / survivors, and service providers.
  • Identify promising practices for sexual assault reforms: prevention, trauma-informed and victim-centered approaches, and offender-focused investigations for greater accountability and public trust. 


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