Working in a role supporting people who have experienced family violence can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging.
Working with trauma
Specialist family violence services work with victim survivors in crisis, and support them to manage serious risk posed by perpetrators. They also support victim survivors to navigate a complex and often ill-equipped service system.
Workers are vulnerable to stress, vicarious trauma and burnout from ongoing exposure to family violence risk and impacts, and working in this highly challenging context.
Specialist family violence services work hard to ensure they provide a safe and supportive work environment for practitioners. Regular supervision, debriefing and support, as well as access to employee assistance programs and opportunities for reflective practice, are all important ways that services enable your success in these roles. They will also encourage a positive workplace environment and regular breaks, and will support you to take leave to ensure you can sustain your work.
If you’ve experienced family violence
Victim survivors played a lead role in establishing the family violence sector, and they continue to shape specialist family violence services through advice and insights to inform service delivery and policy. Many practitioners and leaders in the sector also have lived experience of family and gendered violence.
If you have lived or current experience of family violence and want to train and work in the sector, it’s important to have external and organisational support and strategies in place. This is because aspects of the work may trigger you and impact your wellbeing. This is a common response. But provided you have appropriate organisational support and strategies in place, it should not act as a barrier to you working in the sector or with victim survivors of family violence.
Lived experience – regardless of whether you share your experience – can be valuable by helping to inform how services work or demonstrating genuine understanding of a victim survivor’s experience.