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The Cost of Caring

The Cost of Caring 2

Secondary Trauma. It is defined by psychologists as “the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another. Its symptoms mimic those of post-traumatic stress disorder.” Secondary trauma is one more way that human trafficking victimizes. Only these victims are not themselves survivors of human trafficking. They are the caregivers of survivors. They are the police, the case workers, the counselors, and staff of aftercare centers and programs. They are heroes.

Much attention has been given to survivors of trafficking, and rightfully so! Their experiences showcase some of the worst things that human beings do to one another, robbing people of dignity, agency, and hope. For many survivors, the consequences of their experiences are lifelong and can significantly impair their ability to live a normal life. What is less understood is the affects of being a caregiver of traumatized people, especially the kind of caregiver whose role is to listen to the details of horrible abuse from the perspective of the one who experienced it. In fact, what makes a caregiver good at his or her job is compassion, and it is exactly this compassion that can lead to the undoing of that caregiver’s own mental health.

As I interact with people investing their lives in the care of survivors, I am deeply aware of the price that they are paying personally. They do not have to put themselves at risk, yet they do. Every. Single. Day. They show up; they listen; they absorb anger; they pray; and they cry their own tears of powerlessness. And then they wake up the next day to do it again.

Dark Bali is a network of these heroes. We are aware that not everyone is given the privilege or responsibility for carrying the stories of survivors and victims of human trafficking, and we do not regret our place in these stories. What we do ask for is that as we carry the traumas of the ones in our care, you would help carry ours. Will you come alongside us and ensure that we have what we need to do the work that is ours to do?  If we all share the burden of the stories of Indonesia’s trafficking victims and survivors, our movement will grow and our vision to see slavery abolished and the lives of survivors restored will be accomplished.


(As an organization primarily focused on equipping those on the frontlines, Dark Bali honors caregivers who continue to serve, sometimes at great personal cost. While these heroes care for survivors, we care for them by providing training on important topics like trauma, therapeutic techniques, and burnout/secondary trauma. To partner with Dark Bali in order to serve all of our coalition partners, contact us or become a financial partner.)

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