I recently attended a "Trauma Informed Practices" workshop through Theatre Intimacy Education where we explored the trouble of wielding phrases such as "safe space" and "trust me" as they are often leveraged by those in power to exert control, whether that is in the rehearsal room or board room.
I remember facilitating groups in college believing that I was reducing possible harm by stating that "this is a safe space". At no point did I question, safe for whom or safe from what. Safety is personal and it is relative; what is safe for me, may be in stark contrast as to what is safe for you. In the workshop we learned that safety is complicated because those they have experienced trauma know the world is not safe; trauma literally recodes various structures of the brain. Safety is personal and it is relative. Most importantly, facilitators in the workshop shared that safety is not comfort, and it is our job to unlink them. The illusion of safety or safe spaces is often utilized to get individuals to violate their own boundaries; to take risks, divulge sensitive information, or consent to things they otherwise wouldn't.
Trust is a mechanism of coercion. Trust can often be used to imply unrealistic expectations or infer anticipated behavior, "I trust you to do X" or as a means to energetically dump pain or trauma on another individual, "I trust you all with this information". It can also be a means by which override objection, "just trust me".
Safety and trust obscure inherent power dynamics and thus often actively work against spaces that are intending to be consent-based and trauma-informed. That's why they are problematic. They are readily pulled out under the guise of reducing harm, when in fact, they often cause more.
Christopher W. Daniels,