National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health Publishes A Systematic Review of Trauma-Focused Interventions for Domestic Violence Survivors

Title page of A Systematic Review of Trauma-Focused Interventions for Domestic Violence SurvivorsThe National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health (NCDVTMH) is pleased to announce the recent publication of A Systematic Review of Trauma-Focused Interventions for Domestic Violence Survivors. Written in collaboration with Cris Sullivan, PhD, and Echo Rivera, MA, from Michigan State University, the paper is a literature review of evidence-based trauma treatments for survivors of domestic violence; it is part of a multi-year effort funded by FYSB’s Family Violence Prevention and Services Program to build an evidence base for both trauma-informed work and trauma-specific treatment in the context of domestic violence.

Domestic violence advocates believe it is critical for their colleagues and partners to be aware of the types of trauma treatments that are currently available, particularly models that are specifically tailored for survivors of domestic violence, and to be aware of both the strengths and limitations of existing evidence-based treatments for trauma in the context of DV. The literature review provides an analysis of nine trauma-based treatments specifically designed or modified for survivors of domestic violence, and includes recommendations for research and practice. Given that domestic violence survivors have a wide variety of life experiences with a range of mental health effects, there is no single treatment model that will fit the needs of all. Additional investigation is needed to assess the types of interventions that will be most helpful to survivors of domestic violence, as very limited research exists on evidence-based treatments for addressing mental health issues in the context of ongoing domestic violence.

A key finding from the review is the observation that trauma treatments that have been modified to meet the specific needs of domestic violence survivors hold particular promise for helping in the healing process. While it is too early to definitively know which treatments work best, evidence suggests that helpful interventions consist of: 

  • Education regarding the causes and consequences of violence; 
  • Attention to ongoing survivor safety; 
  • Cognitive and emotional skill development to address trauma-related symptoms; and 
  • A focus on survivor’s strengths.

These lessons will be used to assist advocates in promoting survivors’ emotional wellbeing and recovery as a part of NCDVTMH’s ongoing work to identify and share information about promising practices.

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Program is pleased to support NCDVTMH in its work to advance how the domestic violence field responds to survivor trauma. The literature review represents an important step forward in better understanding the complex impact of abuse on survivors and their capacity to rebuild their lives.

To read the full literature review, visit the NCDVTMH webpage.

To learn more about how the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program supports national resource centers like NCDVTMH, visit the Family Violence webpage.