Trauma Informed Relationships: A Concept

A healthy tree has healthy roots, so does a healthy relationship.
  • Safety (Mental, Physical, Emotional)
  • Trustworthiness and Transparency
  • Peer Support
  • Collaboration and Mutuality
  • Empowerment, Voice, and Choice
  • Cultural, Historical, and Gender Specific Issues


Practical applications of the safety principle in interpersonal relationships are:

  • Keeping the channels of communication open by not gaslighting the other parties of your relationships when they come to you with issues.
  • Clear and nonviolent communication via “I” statements and lack of loaded or insulting/ condescending language
  • Being solution oriented rather than focusing on faults and problems
  • Lack of physical, financial, mental, or emotional abuse
  • Being approachable and making other parties feel a sense of ease rather than one of apprehension
  • Being patient, sympathetic/ empathetic and understanding

Trustworthiness and Transparency

Practical applications of this principle within interpersonal relationships:

  • Clear and concise statement of boundaries and commitment to honoring those boundaries
  • Having integrity and being honest within your interactions, lacking manipulation, lying by omission, not being sneaky with the intent to deceive the other party
  • Clear and open communication and being receptive to the input of the other party when making decisions that could possibly affect them
  • Clear and open communication about commitments that you’re no longer able to honor, offering notice and restitution or replacement
  • Respecting the privacy of the other party, and not using privacy and trust extended to you to deceive or hide malicious, manipulative, or dishonest behavior
  • Reassuring partners of their security within the relationship

Peer Support

Practical applications of Peer Support in interpersonal relationships:

  • Offering sincere support and space/ time for a person to vent to you or share their mental health issues to you
  • Asking the other party their triggers and avoiding them
  • Inquiring and respecting the pronouns a person wishes to be used in relation to them
  • Keeping confidence of private information that has been divulged to you
  • Being cognizant of the communication styles of the other party- not everyone is a verbal communicator
  • Asking the other party their needs and doing your best to provide them
  • Knowing when to get professional help and knowing which organizations to reach out to if the person does need help and support that is beyond your ability to provide
  • De-escalating a person who has become violent to self or others due to being psychologically triggered

Collaboration and Mutuality

Practical application of Collaboration and Mutuality in interpersonal relationships:

  • Inquiring the strengths of each party; playing on those strengths, offering support/ action where they have “weaknesses”
  • Realizing that you are responsible for your own growth and must do your own work
  • Being accountable to the commitments that you have made for self and for others
  • Sharing power and decision making where applicable and appropriate
  • Being able to take constructive criticism without defensiveness, and provide constructive feedback in a way that isn’t attacking the other party
  • Leveling power imbalances that are financial, age based, or otherwise inequitable to give other parties a fair voice in their own care/ decisions that will affect them

Empowerment, voice, and choice

Practical ways to apply Empowerment, voice, and choice to interpersonal relationships:

  • Actively listen to the needs of the other party rather than assume
  • Focus on positive attributes rather than deficits or flaws
  • Mutuality, voice, and choice all go hand in hand, so giving the other party an equal voice in decisions that inform their care/ relationships is tantamount
  • As with collaboration and mutuality, leveling of power imbalances is also important to making the other party feel empowered and giving them a voice/ choice within the context of the relationship
  • Absence of abuse and manipulation based on power imbalances
  • Giving space and freedom for the other party to be their own person without your influence, jealousy, or control

Cultural, Historical, and Gender Specific Issues

Some practical applications of awareness of cultural, historical, and gender specific issues in interpersonal relationships:

  • Being aware of the health and wellness issues that affect the specific demographic of the other party. Providing personal and/ or political advocacy for those issues
  • Do not dismiss, silence, or gaslight the other party when they are referencing or discussing demographic specific issues that you do not understand or disagree with
  • Do not center yourself in those discussions
  • Realize that sometimes you will be in the demographic of people that have benefited politically, economically, or socially from the issues that have caused trauma for others, do not perpetuate that violence and actively reject that “benefit” and power imbalance when/ if applicable

In a society like America that is full of violence based on race, sex, religion, and economic standing, trauma is almost positively something that will inform and affect the way we relate to one another.

In applying the principles of trauma informed care in our interpersonal relationships, we all stand to become better parents, better partners, better friends, and better humans.




Pro black. Pro woman. Pro child. I write about and for blackness. I am periodically petty, overly opinionated, and underpaid.

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Pro black. Pro woman. Pro child. I write about and for blackness. I am periodically petty, overly opinionated, and underpaid.

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