Journalists build capacity on trauma-informed reporting

 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.


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