We have known for some time that trauma has immediate and lasting effects on victims. We are now more aware of the effects of trauma, experienced directly and vicariously, on the wide range of professionals who respond to and care for survivors. All too often, exposure to trauma manifests itself in many ways, from the psychological to the emotional to even the physical. Research shows that such vicarious trauma, left unaddressed, leads to staff burnout, turnover, stress, and lesser quality of services to victims.
We must take care of organizations—and their leadership, staff, and volunteers—dedicated to providing victim services. The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit offers guidance to help organizations strengthen their ability to address work-related exposure to trauma for victim services, emergency medical services, fire services, and law enforcement personnel. Although the toolkit focuses on addressing vicarious trauma in organizations in these four disciplines, its concepts and resources can be applied more broadly and to anyone who serves victims.
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is privileged to support this effort to address vicarious trauma and promote resiliency in the field. Investment in the victim services workforce is critical to ensuring that staff and organizations are equipped to withstand the stress often associated with this work and capable of providing critical services for victims and communities for decades to come. Taking care of the needs of victim assistance personnel ultimately allows them to better serve survivors.
Marilyn M. Roberts
Office for Victims of Crime