Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual's functioning and physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

SAMHSA, 2012, Part one: Defining trauma, para. 1

What is Trauma?

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study (1995-1997) is the largest study to date, with more than 17,000 participants, which has linked health risk behavior and disease in adulthood to exposure to emotional, physical, or sexual abuse and household dysfunction during childhood (Felitti, et al., 1998).

The study found that nearly two-thirds of all respondents had at least one adverse childhood experience and 12% of the respondents had four or more adverse childhood experiences.

The study also found a strong graded relationship to the amount of exposure to abuse or household dysfunction and multiple risk factors associated with some of the leading causes of death in adults. The ACE study found a significant relationship between adverse childhood experiences and alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, intimate partner violence, obesity, physical inactivity, depression, suicide attempts, and smoking. Further, the more adverse childhood experiences reported, the more likely a person will develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, stroke, and skeletal fractures. The ACE study illustrates that adverse childhood experiences are more common than acknowledged; it shows the impact that these adverse experiences have on physical and behavioral health later on in life and thus the need for preventative interventions.

Trauma-Informed Community Development

In 2012, community members from the faith-based community began to engage the Hill District in a wider conversation about Community Trauma. This engagement was in partnership with Duquesne University and culminated in a Consultative Workshop in 2014.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, as a result of these conversations, began to work in partnership with these local community members to develop a technically advanced method to evaluate the health and wellbeing and resilience in the community. These partnerships resulted in a confluence of strategies that have become the basis for Trauma-Informed Community Development (TICD).

As informed by the lived experience of trauma, both personal and collective, TICD is a framework that establishes and promotes healthy resilience communities so that people can be healthy enough to sustain opportunities and realize their potential.