The STAR mission is to provide Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience which empower individuals and groups to heal and break cycles of violence in order to build healthy relationships and communities.
STAR is a unique approach to trauma healing that connects personal and community healing and transformation with organizational and societal well being. Traumatic events need not lead to cycles of violence. Rather, they have the potential to awaken the human spirit and the global family. The STAR framework draw on the fields of trauma healing and resilience, restorative justice, conflict transformation, human security and spirituality.
- Trauma resulting from conflict affects individuals, families, communities and societies and can fuel continuing cycles of violence and prevent sustainable rebuilding. Trauma affects the body, mind, and spirit of individuals, communities and societies. Addressing medical/mental health issues is part of healing but social and spiritual components are also needed that are contextually and culturally appropriate. Individuals and communities are resourceful and resilient and have many of the keys to healing within themselves that can be supported and strengthened.
- Resilience is the capacity of individuals and communities to adapt, survive, and bounce back in the midst of or after hardship and adversity. Persons who have experienced trauma often continue to function (going to school, earning a living, and caring for each other); however, they may still carry frozen grief and unaddressed justice needs that can fuel conflict later. The “proof” of well-being and trauma transformation is not only the absence of post-traumatic reactions or the ability to continue functioning. Rather, it is in the quality of relationships within and between individuals, families, communities and the wider society in the days, months, and years that follow violence/conflict/trauma.
- Self-care is closely connected to resilience and is especially important for persons who are hurting or are suffering from the hurt of helping others. Persons can recognize compassion stress and the early warning signs of compassion fatigue and learn ways to treat and prevent it. Self-care plans for self and others build resilience.
- Justice is usually associated with legal systems, which may or may not address or satisfy the needs of the many people harmed in conflict. STAR introduces principles of restorative justice that involve victims and offenders (whether individuals or groups) working together to address justice needs in ways that stress dignity for all, responsibility and restitution, thus increasing positive social capital. When neither traditional legal processes nor restorative justice is possible, then the principles of “restorative creative justice” provide options for victims and a counterpoint to the despair and anger of unrequited justice.
- Conflict Transformation processes use communication to address the underlying causes of conflict and develop creative solutions that meet everyone’s needs. These processes help identify experiences and issues that have caused harm, trauma and injustice and build relationships between the people in conflict which may lead to forgiveness’ and a process of reconciliation. Processes of dialogue, negotiation, mediation and training are needed at all levels to end violent conflict and prevent further conflict and trauma.
- Security commonly refers to national security and is seen as the duty of governments to protect their citizens, often through military means. At a more basic level, security encompasses being safe in one’s own home and community, assurance of human rights, and economic viability that ensures that basic human needs are met. Thus, access to credit, jobs, and networks and institutions that provide safety are also trauma interventions and conflict prevention.
- Spirituality and faith beliefs, the systems by which people give meaning to their world, are key to understanding trauma responses and addressing the deep wounds and torn social fabric post-conflict/trauma. Religion can be a source of conflict or a source of peace, but spiritual values and principles that underlie all religions help people heal.
Underlying the psycho-social-spiritual way of viewing trauma and resilience is the belief that healing can be enhanced and future trauma can be prevented by the integration of these concepts and by working together.