Trauma & Social Justice: Making Connections

Summer Reading: Books for Healing & Social Change
July 12, 2010
Unraveling the Armor of Privilege
October 11, 2010

On September 18, 2010 I begin hosting a Trauma and Social Justice book group.We will discuss books like Steven Wineman’s Power Under: Trauma & Nonviolent Social Change and Laura van Dernoot Lipsky’s Trauma Stewardship These books eloquently support the orientation that I seek to bring alive for my coaching clients and workshop participants.

My orientation is based on unconditional compassion and respect for the body’s wisdom. Understanding how our bodies store trauma (including intimate trauma, social trauma and vicarious trauma), I offer simple body/mind practices to transform trauma into resilience.

An inspiring number of healers, educators, activists and organizations have been pursuing similar paths and developing trauma-wise, body-based healing tools to support sustainable social justice work. Some of these pioneers and projects that I am aware of include,

in the Bay Area:
Victor Lewis
Trinity Ordona
Lawrence Ellis
Mordechai Kohen
Staci Haines, Generative Somatics; Somatics & Social Justice Collaborative
Seminary of the Street

In Minneapolis, MN:
Susan Raffo, Heather Hackman;
Tommy Woon

Social Justice Leadership


These people and organizations integrate trauma healing methods into social justice work, understanding that individual and collective healing from trauma is inseparable. Many of them employ insights from neuroscience, attachment theory, and ancient/modern bodies of cultural wisdom.

From folks like these, and from my own experience, I have learned that social trauma shows up in our bodies and communities as unconscious behaviors, internalized oppression and dominance, toxic in-fighting within organizations and movements, and unsustainable workaholic practices.

This means that healing from trauma is critical to healing and empowering marginalized communities, growing authentic social justice allyship in privileged communities, building powerful alliances among diverse communities, and sustaining long-term social justice work.

I invite you to explore this powerful body of work; hopefully some of the books, people or organizations mentioned above will resonate with you, and connect you to others doing similar work.

Be well,



  1. Susan says:

    I love that you just wrote this. I just wrote up something similar as a potential workshop at Creating Change – how privilege lives in the body. Thank you for your work, Vanissar. So seriously.