Specialist supervision service for Freedom Programme and Domestic Abuse trainers.
Vicarious trauma is the impact of exposure that workers are faced with when listening to clients and hearing their accounts of abuse.
Over time we can unwittingly begin to absorb the pain, fear and horror that survivors have endured.
This then impacts not just on our work, but on the way we run our personal lives.
Very often vicarious trauma can be mistaken for burn out. When employees feel that they no longer have the energy to continue working with victims they put it down to burn out.
Many years ago when working as a sexual violence advocate I was told that most people could only manage to do the job for two years tops before they “burn out” and leave. Such is the world of working with victims of trauma !!
or is it ?
As employers we have a duty to keep our employees and volunteer’s safe, not just from physical harm, we also have a responsibility for our employee’s mental health. This is particularly relevant when working in jobs that deal on a day to day basis with traumatic events. It is important that those providing supervision are aware of and have a full understanding of vicarious trauma, how to identify it and how to deal with it.
The plus side for employers is that they will have fewer staff leave and therefore an experienced well balanced workforce.
To my credit during all the 30 years spent working in domestic and sexual abuse, unless staff relocated or project funding came to an end, no one ever left and our staff turnover was virtually nil.