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I'm thinking a lot about institutional betrayal, a concept developed by @jjfreydcourage and collaborators, in the wake of multiple sudden university closures and the several, like my own, gearing up to open anyway.
I'm going to share a few quotes from Smith & Freyd 2014. I'm going to let you use your own interpretive lenses as you think about how you might apply institutional betrayal trauma theory in this pandemic.
Institutional betrayal is "trusted and powerful institutions (schools, churches, military, government) acting in ways that visit harm upon those dependent on them for safety and well-being." p. 575
"Betrayal trauma theory posits that abuse perpetrated within close relationships is more harmful than abuse perpetrated by strangers because of the violation of trust within a necessary relationship." p. 577
Institutional factors that seem to correlate with betrayal: "those that foster a sense of trust or dependency from their members (often both)." p. 578
Other major institutional characteristics: 1) membership requirements, "strict definitions of membership in which conformity is valued and deviance quickly corrected as a means of self-policing among members." p. 580
2) prestige, "Yet institutions and leaders do not often operate purely on power and fear; they also create trust and dependency in their members by recreating primary relationships. It is this very trust and dependency that leads to a conflict when abuse is occurring:...
"to stay...means enduring more abuse, but to report the abuse would mean potentially losing an important relationship." &3) priorities, "institutional betrayal may remain unchecked when performance or reputation is valued over, or divorced from, the well-being of members." p. 580
4) institutional denial, "having clear stds of membership allows for the 'othering' of the individual making the allegations against the institution, as nonconforming attributes of individuals can be highlighted in order to cast doubt on the veracity or importance of reports...
"...When under duress, institutions can also point to their prestige to assuage doubt." p. 580
Finally, items from the IB scale:
-Not taking proactive steps to prevent this type of experience?
-Creating an environment in which this type of experience seemed common or like no big deal?
-Creating an environment in which this experience seemed more likely to occur?
-Making it difficult to report the experience?
-Responding inadequately to the exp, if reported?
-Covering up the experience?
-Punishing you in some way for this experience? (table 1, p. 582)
Ok, so: if your institution offers soothing words about how it's going to be fine, if they hide positive test #s (which FERPA definitely doesn't prohibit if shared in aggregate), if they are creating conditions that ensure community spread, if critique is criticized or punished?
That feeling, that gross feeling that values and lives don't matter any more? That's institutional betrayal.

*(with apologies to @jjfreydcourage if I have inadvertently misinterpreted any of her brilliant work)
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