The Coordinator of Client Services at the International Justice Mission (IJM) Ghana, Akosua Asamoah, has advised journalists to be trauma-informed before engaging survivors of human trafficking.
“Being trauma-informed is like putting on a pair of glasses, and being able to view the situation through a “trauma-lens” that helps you engage with survivors sensitively,” she added.
Trauma-Informed Reporting involves telling stories that promote a culture of safety, empowerment and healing.
She said this in a virtual meeting for IJM Ghana’s Young Journalists Fellowship-Cohort Two, themed “Trauma-Informed Reporting” last Thursday.
The presentation was to help journalists gain foundational knowledge on trauma and its impacts on survivors; learn to practically apply trauma-informed care principles to interviewing survivors on human trafficking cases and gain an understanding of self-care, its importance, and the skills necessary to cope well with stress.
Ms Asamoah explained trauma as an event experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening, and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
She noted that trauma was categorised into Acute (a single event that lasts for a limited time); Chronic (Multiple traumatic events over a long period of time) and Complex (A specific kind of chronic trauma that was afflicted by someone who the survivor relied on for survival or safety, like a caregiver).
Examples of trauma, she said, include sexual abuse/rape, physical abuse, natural disasters, traumatic loss, serious accidents, violent crimes, witnessing violence, trafficking in persons, poverty, neglect and medical procedures.
Ms Asamoah said factors impacting trauma response were age and developmental stage, temperament, belief about the level of danger faced during the event, trauma history, and problems after the traumatic event, cultural influences and the availability of a good support system.
“When Journalists are not aware of these changes, and how they impact both the survivor and the survivor’s family, they can do more harm than good,” she added.
The Coordinator of Client Services at IJM Ghana underscored that trauma-informed approaches were key at each stage of dealing with survivors of trafficking, as when a client experiences a traumatic event, any aspect of their internal and external experiences are changed.
As such, Ms Asamoah encouraged journalists in giving trauma-informed care to “realise the widespread impact of trauma; recognise the signs and symptoms of trauma in survivors and yourself; respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, practices and seek to actively resist re-traumatisation”.
She also advised them to manage their biases by assessing themselves, acknowledging their biases and making conscious efforts to act in a fair, trauma informed manner towards others.
Ms Asamoah used the opportunity to caution journalists to also apply self-care by deliberately choosing to regularly engage in activities that maintained and enhanced their well-being.
BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR