Q. How many of my patients or clients are survivors?
1 in 3 women are survivors of physical abuse, rape or stalking so unless you see women only rarely in your work, you are likely dealing with anywhere from 2-8 survivors everyday. Issues associated with past abuse can go undetected for years. Survivors can be re-traumatized by an uninformed professional who deals with a patient or client without regard for a possible history of past abuse.
Q. How can a client or patient be “re-traumatized”?
A. Something as simple as a routine medical procedure (a blood draw, cervical exam) or commonly used language (“this won’t hurt,” or “just relax,”) may trigger memories of a survivor’s past abuse, whether the abuse was yesterday or thirty years ago. Triggers can lead to re-traumatization which can add to existing or new health and wellness challenges.
Q. I’m not a counselor; I’m a _______. What can I do to help survivors?
A. I'm not a counselor either! What your clients and patients need is for you to be informed about abuse, its affects and to use that information to serve them in an inclusive and sensitive way. Like any other situation where you encounter an issue that is beyond your expertise, you can always refer out to a counselor, peer support groups or local survivor services agency.
Q. Our office is already busy!
A. It's not about spending more time. It’s about being more efficient with your time by using a trauma-informed approach to patient care, being a better listener and having greater resources at your fingertips.
Q. I’m a survivor. Will this material be triggering for me?
A. Some survivors are triggered by the material and some are not. I encourage people to reach out to me in advance to share any concerns that they have about their reaction to the material and/or talk about their own story. Most survivor participants say that they learned more about themselves and their own healing process (or lack thereof) as a result of my training. Survivor attendees also report greater confidence and competence in their own work.