Anti-violence workers attend retreat to heal themselves from on the job trauma

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Local anti-violence workers are taking time to refill their empty cups. When we tell domestic violence stories, we typically focus on the survivors. But what about the advocates, law enforcement and counselors who get them to safety?

The Domestic Violence Network and the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault (ICESA) brought together anti-violence workers for a day of self-care based on the book, "Trauma Stewardship." The day included yoga and trauma informed care practices.

"We know how important it is for our direct service providers to absolutely take care of themselves because they take on so much trauma. Day in and day out so much vicarious trauma," Domestic Violence Network, Strategic Collaboration Specialist, Cecily Johnson said.

In an industry that ingests someone else's experiences, it's hard to get workers to stay on the job long-term. They also hope the first of its kind retreat will help address high turnover rates.

"There are days and weeks where the stories that we hear and the situations that we're working with are very hard on our hearts, hard on our minds so you go home really exhausted," Center for Victim & Human Rights, Community Outreach Coordinator, Emily Djabi said.

So, during their time together, they let it all out with likeminded people who just get it. The goal is to teach them how to take it in and let it go.

"Here's the trauma that I've taken on how can I unpack it? How can I navigate through it" Johnson said.

Some advocates have come up with their own self-care routines.

"When I go home and it's overwhelming and a lot then I cry or I work out or I rest," Coburn Place Advocate, Monique Pompey said.

With the understanding self-care doesn't just mean a spa day. The biggest takeaway here is how I can take care of survivors and myself daily.

"Is how to incorporate that into my everyday activities versus just trying to do a treat on the weekends or one night a week," Djabi said.