Self Care for Support Persons
It is important that you take measures to promote your own self-care after helping someone deal with sexual and relationship violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and gender-based discrimination. Witnessing an assault or hearing the details may arouse vicarious trauma and feelings such as anger, fear, outrage, or depression in you. These incidents may also trigger memories of your own traumatic experiences, inciting a variety of physical or psychological stress responses.
Things You Can Do
Consult with supervisor other trusted staff person, or friend to process without disclosing the survivor identity if they are not a “need-to-know” resource.
Establish and maintain a sense of what you can and cannot do for the survivor, keeping in mind that they must be able to make their own decisions and choices and may need assistance beyond what you can provide. Discuss your limitations and refer the survivor to a professional so that they can get the help they need.
Give yourself time and space to process and reflect on what you have heard and experienced and effectively deal with any challenges that result.
Separate the assault from your own experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and opinions. No matter how similar certain cases may be, every survivor is different and everyone has to have their own space and opportunity for recovery.
Treat yourself, engage in a hobby, and allow yourself some “ME” time. Engage in healthy coping and self-care behaviors that nurture you to reward yourself for the important and valuable role you have played in this process and the difference you have made in the life of someone who trusted and confided in you.
Learn more about self-care for friends and family and why self-care is not self-indulgent from healers of color.