anonymous asked:

I'm a survivor, and I really want to volunteer at my county's crisis center. I dont know if I could do the hotline, but perhaps help people at the hospital or in some other way. However, it's of course going to be triggering. And potentailly emotionally harmful/difficult since I can't take back or end what will have just happened to another victim. Any mods have advice? This blog helps people and is triggering. Is there a specific way to be both a victim and help at a crisis center?

Hey anon, myself and a few other mods are going to tag-team this to give you a lot of different perspectives and experiences. 

I very recently became a mod for SCaR, but I’m coming from a very recovered place. I’ve been processing my trauma for quite a while now, (not that time dictates how recovered someone is, but for me, the time has helped a lot). I did a LOT of work in therapy to learn how to deal with triggers when they happen. After I knew how to deal with triggers, I stopped avoiding them, and started working through them if it was safe to do so. At first, I had to ignore triggers a lot, because I couldn’t safely work through them, but after a while, most of them were safe to work through, and now I’m at the point where I can safely work through almost every trigger every time. Because of all that, I don’t get triggered very often anymore. It still happens, but very rarely, and the things that trigger me now are very different than the things that triggered me when I was first starting out on my recovery journey. 

So for me, SCaR isn’t super triggering. (At least not yet, and I’m hoping it stays that way). So my advice is more focused on the “can’t take back or end what will have just happened to another victim.” While I don’t find myself triggered by SCaR, I do get overwhelmed. There are a lot of things that people ask about that I have zero experience with, and I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about trauma, mental health, etc.. So a lot of times I don’t know what to do, but I want to be able to help. That’s one of the reasons SCaR has a lot of different mods with different experiences. One of the hardest things about being a mod for me is not being able to help everyone. There are some questions I have to let go, and know that someone else will answer them because they will be able to give a lot more help than I could. And I don’t always know what to say. Which is a lot easier online, because I can think about it a little more than I could if I had to respond immediately in person. A lot of times I have to remind myself that it’s okay not to have all the answers, and that I am only one person, I can’t save or help everyone. I still struggle with that a lot, so I try to compartmentalize this part of my life from the rest of my life. I try to avoid binge answering asks, or looking through for questions I could help with. And I make sure that I still spend time on my personal tumblr because that’s something that is completely separate and a very different atmosphere. Make sure to not let it consume your life. Your well-being comes first. Take time for yourself, see your friends, do something distracting. Make sure to do things that don’t revolve around the crisis centre or your work there. Do things that you still like to do!

A big thing for me is making sure I still practice self-care, even when I don’t think I need it. A lot of times I feel a lot happier and calmer after doing some self-care, even if I thought I was happy/calm before doing it. This can be anything from some meditation/breathing to an entire day devoted to bubble baths/reading/cooking/gardening/drawing/whatever you’re into. Try and be aware of what specifically triggers you, and maybe avoid that if you can, or at least practice self care after being triggered. Wanting to help other people is fantastic. But you can’t take care of/help other people, if you’re not taking care of yourself. You can only give your best to someone else, when you are at your best. That is something my boss used to tell me a lot, because I wanted to make sure everyone else around me was okay and happy, so much so that I ended up burning out every summer, and usually breaking down. Be selfish. Put yourself first. You will be better for it, and the way you help people will be better for it. Putting yourself first also means that you might have to take a break from helping at the centre, or put it on hold until you are in a better place. And that’s okay. No one will judge you for that or think any less of you. Taking care of yourself is a strength, not a weakness.

Good luck, and I hope this helps!

-Erin

Hey there, 

I can speak as someone who started the training process for my college’s crisis team and backed out early on because it was too triggering for me at the time. I’m in a very different place healing-wise; I just started therapy five months ago and I have over a decade of trauma to process. With that said, the program coordinators were incredibly diligent about making sure identified (and unidentified, really) survivors were safe and at a good place to be able to help throughout the training workshop. The reality is, the work can be triggering. It can be incredibly rewarding if you can handle it though. From my experience and from speaking with other team members, being a medical advocate is extremely difficult and often more triggering than taking on the hotline. With the hotline, there’s a sense of… detachment? Your main role is to be a soundboard, to reassure the caller that they’re going to be okay, and provide resources if they need it (like phone numbers to a counseling center or domestic shelter services, how to go about getting a SANE exam, who to call if they’d like to report, etc). When you’re in the hospital, you’re dealing one-on-one with survivors (sometimes their friends and family too), usually pretty immediately after the assault, and it can be VERY overwhelming even for people who aren’t survivors. When you’re a medical advocate, you’re on call 24 hours a day on your shift days and have to be ready to drop everything and go whenever you get a call. With the phone line, you put in your 4 hours a week and you can walk away. Just be aware of that and check into the different responsibilities for each role. Most people use the hotline as a stepping stone to see if they’re able to handle it. In our program, we have a supervisor who checks in at least once a month with each volunteer; it’s sort of like a therapy session for all volunteers, non-survivors included, to make sure they’re handling everything okay. I’d see if there’s a service like that with your county’s program too. 

Self-care is SO important when doing this kind of work, too. It can be really easy to forget about caring for yourself when you’re immersed in caring for others. I know our program puts on different little events for the advocates; they’ve had movie nights, mani-pedi parties, ‘family’ dinners, etc. I know they also have self-care products- lotions, nail polish, candles, journals- donated and volunteers are always welcome to take them. If your program doesn’t have something like that, make sure you make it a priority for yourself! :) 

If you have any other questions, let me know.

Elle