Probably not. Hearing details about abuse and working closely with people who are traumatised by abuse is likely to affect anyone. My approach to working in this space and staying healthy is to recognise that it DOES have an impact on me. In fact, the day I feel unaffected by what I do for a living is the day I’ll stop doing it. I don’t want to become so numb to these human stories I’m surrounded by that I no longer feel anything. For me, staying healthy starts with self-care. If I’m not doing a good job of looking after me who else is going to? I try to be creative about how I look after myself. Going for walks, staying physically fit, taking myself off for a coffee or a change of scenery, and my cartooning all form part of my self-care practice. Here are some do’s and don’t that I find useful:
Be honest with yourself when this work is affecting you.
Get creative about looking after yourself – there is a lot more to self-care than going for therapy. Have fun and experiment with what works for you.
Use your peers – being able to chat to someone who’s in a similar position can be really useful.
Don’t be a martyr – there is no room and no reason for self-sacrifice here.
Don’t take it home – you may have made a choice to work in an area related to sexual abuse but your friends and family haven’t. Hopefully you have an infrastructure of training and support that helps you deal with the realities of working in this space, but your loved ones probably don’t. So don’t be tempted to off-load on to them. If you are struggling let them know that the thing that is bothering you at the moment is about work (and not them) and then seek the support you need from colleagues or professionals.