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Post by: Wendy Wrobel

Wendy Wrobel

My name is Wendy Wrobel and I am a 1L at Regent University School of Law.

The world, our day, even our school, work, perhaps money and food have been uncertain of late! This is a new experience for many of us. Many of us may feel stuck, or alone, or even afraid. These are real and valid emotions, and in a small way, I believe it gives us just the smallest glimpse into what people around the world go through every day. The very people the Center for Global Justice works to support! The voiceless, the trafficked, the abused, they feel this and so much more every day.

Our work here at the Center, is such a small but fundamental way to contribute to the larger picture of serving the marginalized. I feel thankful that life right now isn’t our daily reality, and I hope it encourages all of us to find ways to serve those who are suffering.

A lot of people who work in the field of global justice suffer from secondary traumatic stress (STS), otherwise known as compassion fatigue. Even though they themselves may have not experienced the trauma of trafficking or abuse, working with people regularly who have experienced trauma can be straining and wear on the individual’s mental health.

It is important for all of us to be aware of the effects stress can take on our mind a body and be attentive to the effect trauma has on each of us in order to better serve the people around us.

There are many ways of approaching secondary traumatic stress, but there are three important steps. Knowledge, recognition, and responding. By knowing that you may be affected by it and learning what it looks like you may be able to recognize it in yourself in order to respond with self-care, support and action.

Some symptoms of STS are guilt, anger, social withdrawal, chronic exhaustion, loss of creativity, cynicism and an inability to listen. Strategies for people who are working in traumatic fields (such as global justice, health care, foster care, etc.) are to prioritize their health. To mentally, physically, and spiritually be attentive to their well-being that they may avoid burn out and be able to continue their work to support others. Activities such as counseling, good sleep, and exercise can make a world of a difference for someone who has STS.

You can support someone with STS by encouraging them to seek help, and supporting them in simple ways like providing food or simply listening to them. Allow yourself to take on some of the burdens that they bear every day. I am thankful to work for the Center for Global Justice, where they prioritize the work we do, and also encourage us to be transparent about how we are feeling and what we can handle.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.