Violence, Abuse and Disasters: Many Faces of Trauma Conference in Tampa Addresses Statewide Impact of Trauma
Governor Charlie Crist has proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. News of this proclamation comes with startling statistics - the number of murders resulting from domestic violence increased 15 percent last year and more than 14,000 people were forced to seek shelter in domestic violence centers around the state. As our economy suffers, violence within the home worsens. Florida has had a 25 percent increase in calls to the state’s abuse hotline. In December 2007, about 900 people called the hotline everyday. Now, about 1,200 people are calling the hotline every day. Trauma from violence and abuse, as well as trauma from child physical and sexual abuse, disasters, and war affects more than just the individual. It affects the whole family and the communities they live in.
The Many Faces of Trauma Conference scheduled October 20 & 21 at the Renaissance Hotel in Tampa helped to promote further research and ensure trauma-informed policy and practice are adopted to increase the well-being of Florida’s citizens across the lifespan. Several key speakers will be at the conference to address information on trauma assessment, intervention/treatment and community and system responses to trauma:
- Dr. Fran Norris provided Monday’s keynote address. She is a community psychologist who has been conducting research on the psychosocial consequences of disasters for more than 20 years. Since Hurricane Katrina, she has been serving as the National Cross-Site Evaluator for the federally funded Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program, for which she recently completed an evaluation of mental health services provided across 17 states in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricanes. For more info: http://facesoftrauma.fmhi.usf.edu/keynote.html
- The featured presenters on Tuesday shared their very personal story. Sandra "Sandy" Heuisler experienced personal trauma that involved childhood abuse, substance abuse, rape, and even homelessness. Sandy, her son Corey and his dad Dave Johnson discussed the strain on their family as she spent years struggling to overcome childhood abuse, only to be traumatized again within the walls of psychiatric hospitals. Sandy is one of four women featured in an award-winning documentary that profiles a non-traditional community program that offered safety, compassion, and hope. "Behind Closed Doors" will be shown (20 minutes) during the presentation. Sandy and Dave are from the National Center on Trauma Informed Care, a technical assistance center dedicated to building awareness of trauma-informed care and promoting the implementation of trauma-informed practices in programs and services.
The conference was sponsored by the University-Community Trauma Research Group, formed in 2006 by the USF Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute to provide a forum to promote transdisciplinary approaches to prevention, intervention and research on trauma across the lifespan and to understand its biological, psychological and societal effects. To date, participants have looked at traumatic stress as a result of child physical and sexual abuse, interpersonal violence, disasters, and war. The conference is supported, in part, by the University of South Florida Internal Awards Program under Grant No. R011759.