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Secondary Trauma

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 yet one more way that sex trafficking victimizes. Only these victims are not themselves survivors of sex trafficking. They are the caregivers of survivors. They are the police, the case workers, the counselors, and staff of aftercare centers. They are heroes.[1]

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 significantly impair their abilities 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 do it again.

DarkBali is a small, local network of these heroes. We are aware that not everyone is given the privilege or responsibility for carrying the stories of survivors, and we do not regret our place in these stories. What we do ask for is that just as we carry the stories of survivors, you would carry ours? Will you look at what we see and listen to what we hear? Will you carry our story beyond yourself and raise awareness to the reality of what is happening to children in Bali? Maybe if we all share the burden of the stories of Bali’s child sex trafficking survivors, our movement will grow and abolition will be possible.

[1] https://www.counseling.org/resources/library/Selected%20Topics/Crisis/Simpson.htm

secondary traumaandgrief

One Comment (Add Yours)

  1. Thank you for this amazing and difficult work that you are doing! I, for one, will share the load and share about it with others. I hope to do this kind of work in the near future!

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