The fatigue, sleepiness, or difficulty falling asleep; physical
The actual trauma of sexual
violence can have long-lasting emotional, and physical effects on a person.
Vicarious trauma is the cumulative emotional residue
that a counsellor may experience when working with people who have suffered traumatic
life events (Vicarious Trauma, 2018)
is a negative reaction to trauma exposure,
and includes a range of psychosocial symptoms.
Any person who works
with victims of trauma is at risk of being negatively impacted by the effects
of vicarious trauma.
Factors that make
counsellors or volunteers vulnerable to the risk of vicarious trauma include, prior traumatic experiences; social
isolation, both on and off the job; a tendency to avoid feelings, withdraw, or
assigning blame to others in stressful situations; difficulty in expressing
feelings; a lack of preparation, orientation, training, and supervision in
their jobs; being new and less experienced at their jobs; constant and intense
exposure to trauma with little or no variation in work tasks; and a lack of an
effective and supportive process for discussing traumatic content of the work.
experience the effects of vicarious trauma differently. Negative reactions
include, but are not limited to difficulty in managing emotions; feeling
emotionally numb or shut down; fatigue, sleepiness, or difficulty falling
asleep; physical problems or complaints; being easily distracted; feeling
hopeless about the future; relationship problems; feeling vulnerable or
worrying excessively about potential dangers; increased irritability;
aggressive, explosive, or violent outbursts and behaviour; destructive coping
or addictive behaviours; lack of or decreased participation in activities that
used to be enjoyable; avoiding work; and a combination of symptoms that
comprise a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
may be identified by talking to an individual about the impact of their work,
and by discussing vicarious trauma as part of supervision; by discussing the
demands of the role and its impact on family members; or through therapeutic or
professional assistance i.e. counselling.