New books of note: ‘Restoring Sanctuary’ and ‘Blind to Betrayal’

sanctuaryDr. Sandra Bloom, associate professor at Drexel University’s School of Public Health and founder of the Sanctuary programs, and Brian Farragher, chief operating officer of ANDRUS, have come out with their long-awaited Restoring Sanctuary: A New Operating System for Trauma-Informed Systems of Care. ANDRUS provides services for families and children in New York State’s Westchester County, and also operates the Sanctuary Institute.

Restoring Sanctuary is the third in a trilogy. Creating Sanctuary, written by Bloom, focused on the Sanctuary Model of Care itself, and how it evolved. More than 200 organizations have adopted the Sanctuary model. Destroying Sanctuary, written by Bloom and Farragher, showed how organizational trauma is destroying the U.S. health care system. Restoring Sanctuary provides a roadmap for organizations to transform themselves into safe and trauma-informed environments.

Last week in New York City, about 100 people turned out at a book party for Restoring Sanctuary. In a write-up on, Farragher was quoted as saying that Destroying Sanctuary “described the formidable barriers to providing effective mental health and social services to our clients and issued a call for reform and recovery.  This new volume takes that next step.  We see it as a roadmap to recovery for our nation’s human service organizations.”

Another book, Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren’t Being Fooled, by University of Oregon psychology

blind professor Dr. Jennifer Freyd and clinical psychologist Pamela Birrell, who teaches at the University of Oregon, will be published on Monday. It provides examples of why organizations, agencies, and society as a whole might want to adopt the Sanctuary model.

This book is about betrayal blindness, how no matter whether “the betrayer is an unfaithful spouse, an abusive authority figure, an unfair boss, or a corrupt institution, we often refuse to see the truth order to protect ourselves.”

Betrayal can occur at the individual and societal level. Betrayal can be the act of a terrorist or the act of a friend. Parents can betray by abandoning or abusing their children. Treason is betrayal. Social justice and oppression often entail betrayal and betrayal blindness…..

This is interesting, in light of the overwhelming number of people who have experienced adverse childhood experiences who want, but fail to obtain, advice or even acknowledgement from many of our institutions, including the medical community. And it’s especially relevant, since ACEs have been shown to cause long-term physical and mental consequences, as well as violence and being a victim of violence, and all ACE studies done so far show that more people have experienced childhood adversity than have not.

The book addresses why we use betrayal blindness — with fascinating examples of how people cannot see betrayal, even when it happens right in front of their faces — as well as how it’s important to move beyond betrayal blindness to heal.

Carly Smith (l) and Jennifer Freyd (r)

The book comes out at the same time that one of its authors, Dr. Jennifer Freyd, and doctoral student Carly P. Smith published a study of institutional betrayal, in which they developed an Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire. In the study they determined that nearly half of 233 female university students who had endured at least one unwanted sexual experience in their lifetime also experienced betrayal by the institution where the sexual abuse occurred. Here’s the bottom line:

In the final analysis, researchers found, those who experienced institutional betrayal suffered the most in four post-trauma measurement categories, including anxiety and dissociation.

The study appears in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

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