Trauma-informed design is about integrating the principles of trauma-informed care into design with the goal of creating physical spaces that promote safety, well-being and healing. This requires realizing how the physical environment affects identity, worth and dignity, and how it promotes empowerment.

Science tells us that built space can have a positive impact on our physiological and emotional state. And there is great opportunity to heal with intentional, trauma-informed design by integrating direct experiences of nature- water features, greenscapes, natural light, etc. and specific color selections, wall and furniture placement, textures, and clear wayfinding.

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Four pillars in the Main Lobby are concave/convex wood structure foundations. Concave and convex shapes are found throughout nature. The intersection of concave and convex shapes symbolizes male, female, intersex, and non-binary – fully inclusive. The wood represents wisdom, strength and forgiveness. Rising from these inclusive foundations are vertical “structures of strength” composed of repeated patterns of the Adinkra symbol for strength and resiliency. The finish of these structures is a bronzey gold patina finish: the darker areas of the patina represent survivors’ trauma and challenge, while the gold unearths the beauty and worth within each person. The two together are nuanced reminders that we are all like gold tested in fire.

In this Covid-19 era, health concerns in public buildings are understandably high. State-of-the-art technology integrated into the facility will deactivate bacteria, mold, allergens and viruses, most notably Covid-19. The technology has already proven effective against SARS, norovirus and several flu strains. Avalon will also include the most up to date exterior and interior security. Innovative technology for security doors and building zones will be intelligently designed with access areas- staff and administration, returning clients, advocates, first time patients, visitors, etc. Separate entrances include: 1) this Main Lobby for returning clients and guests; 2) a Staff, advocate, and criminal justice personnel entrance, and 3) forensic exam patients and loved ones who may accompany them.

Expanded clinical space within a medical wing will provide patients with a medical forensic history, examination, coordinated care and treatment of sustained injuries, and collection of evidence that will build cases against perpetrators.

  • Medical Care and Forensic Examination
  • Three Medical Forensic Exam Rooms
  • Three Patient Intake Suites
  • Post-Assault Follow Up Care Clinic
  • Pharmacy
  • Clinics within Six Hospital Sites
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An entire wing is dedicated to the journey of healing. The damage of sexual assault is just the beginning, each person suffers consequences that are as individual as the survivor. Because patients and clients are in different areas of their journey to empowerment and health, Avalon provides comprehensive healing opportunities that are as varied as each person’s journey. Various modalities can be easily accessed in one healing wing. Through Art Therapy, sharing or viewing artwork in the Art Gallery, luxuriating in a Meditation Room designed to feel like a clearing in a forest, utilizing the Yoga/Healing Room or simply taking in the view of the Yoga Lawn from the Yoga Lounge, healing and empowerment are accessible here in the Healing Wing.

Nature is art at its finest. Since direct experience to nature is universal in its ability to heal all people, the healing wing integrates 3-dimensional wallpaper to bring the outdoors in and an art therapy room and art gallery to display survivor’s artwork. Shared pain and healing can be cathartic when communicated through art. Art can make connections that can’t always be made with other healing modalities. Art Heals, period.

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The Avalon Healing Center has expanded to work on both a statewide and national level. Currently, the organization serves on several different task forces. They have also been involved in Think Tanks that are working to change the way entire communities view issues surrounding sexual assault including legislation around the handling of rape kits, funding for sexual assault services, law enforcement response to sexual assault and victim’s rights. Staff plays an integral role in educating other communities on best practice standards around both medical and advocacy services.

At the national level, Avalon Healing Center has been working to educate the rest of the country on our community’s experience of over 11,000 rape test kits hidden in a Detroit police warehouse and the lessons learned from our involvement in the National Institute of Justice Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project. They have also been included in the SAFER Act Work Group that developed guidelines for the entire country on best practices as it relates to evidence collection and criminal justice response to sexual assault.

Patients who survive assaults are in need of advocacy, support, and person-centered services. Survivors are often unsure of whom to contact or how the judicial process works.

As Avalon Healing Center works to address the need for follow-up services by offering comprehensive, trauma-informed, antiracist person-centered care plans for every survivor, the organization also understands that health care providers and law enforcement agencies can and must be better prepared to acknowledge their implicit biases; address overt racist and misogynistic behaviors, procedures, and policies; and support patients through every step of the healing and justice-seeking process.

Avalon and its partners – including hospitals and clinicians – are invested in creating and providing training series to reach health and criminal justice sectors, and have the backgrounds, expertise, and medical knowledge in order to do so.

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