"Feeling heavy"

Vicarious trauma and other issues facing those who work in the sexual assault field
ACSSA Wrap No. 4 – September 2007

The sexual assault organisation in social context

There has been a shift in the literature on vicarious traumatisation, from a focus on the individual level to the organisational level, with the most recent research on the topic emphasising the importance of organisational support. Researchers and theorists have noted that, because vicarious traumatisation occurs in the workplace, the nature of this environment is particularly important (Wasco et al., 2002). But individual workers and sexual assault organisations also exist within a broader social environment, which will also influence the need, ability and propensity of both individual and organisational strategies to deal with vicarious trauma. Workplace policies, legislation and funding will enable, constrain and shape the supports an organisation is able to put in place. Broader social attitudes about rape will inevitably influence individuals and organisations in the ways they carry out their work, and the impact it has on them. Perhaps this broader social level is the next field of exploration in vicarious trauma research and prevention.