Systemic trauma is practices and policies of institutions that cause psychological, economic, spiritual, or physical harm to specific groups of people. It maintains inequality, marginalisation, and the oppression of certain groups through excluding these groups from opportunities, access to meaningful work, fair reward, justice, equity of rights, and equity of living conditions and giving preference to the majority group.
Systemic trauma can affect anyone in a minority group. It might be based on race, class, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender or disability.
When we are thinking about trauma, it can be easy to forget the impact of our systems. Our experience of those structures and systems might be completely different from another person’s experience.
We must begin to broaden the context of trauma to include the communities, institutions, and historical forces that shape the society we are living in. We might be safe at home but unsafe in our community—context matters.
If you have any book recommendations for those who would like to do more reading on this topic, please put them in the comments below.