Community safety and policing

Roxbury, MA
United States

Providing research to support advocacy for African American women who are caregivers who have lost loved ones through homicide or incarceration related to community violence, as these women are not consistently supported by funding programs, public agencies, and traditional mental health care institutions.

There is a large body of work studying how community violence impacts communities of color, yet current research does not focus on female caregivers who are affected by one or both sides of gun violence: homicide and incarceration. These women are an often overlooked, yet deeply vital, demographic within the African American community who require additional support for the trauma following community violence.

We Are Better Together seeks to increase access to mental health and trauma resources for these women and reshape how Boston—and communities at large—address violence. We Are Better Together will conduct surveys and focus groups and collect academic and medical data to further understand how to address community violence communally. This research will also give local and regional survivor groups opportunities for collaboration and partnership to better provide services to female caregivers and survivors. This work will be led by women who have lived experience of community violence. This leadership structure is essential to We Are Better Together’s long-term goal: to change the response and impact of institutional systems in trauma response to a progressive community-driven system.

In order to shift trauma-response systems back into the community, communities need support material and guidance. We Are Better Together will craft leadership trainings, community organizing guides, and handbooks to help residents better understand trauma response as well as the mechanisms of the institutions they intersect with, such as health care and criminal justice. They will also expand access to necessary services for African American women and girls in addition to supporting local and neighborhood organizations invested in this work. We are Better Together hopes that this will support future advocacy and push for policy changes related to trauma response and community violence.