The Sanctuary Model
By now you may have heard the wonderful news that we're officially certified in the Sanctuary® Model, an evidence-supported, trauma-informed organizational change approach to establishing an organizational culture that promotes healing, safety and empowerment for both clients and staff. But what does that mean, and why is it important?
What is the Sanctuary® Model?
The Sanctuary® Model is a set of ideas for organizations to follow to become more trauma-informed in a holistic way, and includes seven commitments as well as an organizing principle called "S.E.L.F."
The Sanctuary® Model emphasizes seven commitments in organizational interactions:
- Nonviolence: We work hard to make sure that we are physically safe and that we feel safe with the people around us.
- Emotional Intelligence: We work to express our feelings in healthy ways that don’t hurt ourselves or others.
- Social Learning: We are committed to sharing our ideas with others and listening to others share their ideas.
- Democracy: We acknowledge that we make better decisions when everyone plays a part in the decision making.
- Open Communication: We don’t keep our thoughts to ourselves; we say what we mean but aren’t mean when we say it!
- Social Responsibility: Together we get more done. We are committed to helping each other out.
- Growth and Change: If we want things to get better, we need to believe that we can grow and change. We know it’s hard!
Women Against Abuse also observes "S.E.L.F," an acronym that stands for what the Sanctuary® Institute calls "the four interactive key aspects of recovery from negative experiences”:
- SAFETY allows us to manage our emotions well
- EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT allows the expression of loss
- The ability to express LOSS allows us to think about our future
- Creating our own FUTURE allows us to create a safe one.
We believe that everyone goes through challenges and hardship at some point in their life, and that these things shape who we become and how we behave. With this in mind we try to change the question from “What is wrong with you?” and instead ask “What happened to you?” In this way, the Sanctuary® Model helps us to better assist clients and employees with planning their goals, finding their strengths, and overcoming challenges in their lives.
What does Sanctuary® certification mean?
The Sanctuary® Institute awards Sanctuary® certification to signify that an organization “provides a higher level of care, a trauma-sensitive environment for clients… and a better work environment for staff.”
For the past four years, with feedback from the Sanctuary® Institute's staff and leadership, we've worked carefully to integrate Sanctuary® principles into our organization's structure and into our staff's interactions with both clients and each other. After a two-day visit to our multiple programs this spring, the Sanctuary® Institute informed us that we have achieved our Sanctuary® certification! Women Against Abuse is now one of 73 certified Sanctuary® Model organizations internationally, only two of which are domestic violence service providers.
Sanctuary® certification requires re-evaluation every three years, as it is designed to promote, sustain, and strengthen an organization's commitment to the maintenance of a trauma-informed culture for all of its stakeholders.
Want to learn more?
Visit the Sanctuary® Model website for more info.