Are you one of those employees that wear several hats within the agency ?  On a daily basis you display your multiplicity of skills by doing many things and doing them well.  You perform your job without hesitation or complaining and are motivated to help clients and support the agency’s mission. 
Yes I am talking to you, the one that skips lunch to sit with a client in anticipation of their court hearing at 1:30 p.m.  Yes you, the one that handles all of the bilingual crisis calls, translates handouts and brochures into Spanish, does the Spanish radio and television interviews, in addition to handling your English speaking client caseload.  Yes you, the one that comes to the office on the weekend in preparation to provide training to all the juniors and senior government classes at the local high school.  Yes you, the one that stays up until 2:00 a.m. to write and submit that foundation or government grant that will hopefully offset the agency budget cuts from the state.  And I am definitely talking to you, the one that responds to the hospital at 3:00 a.m. for the rape survivor, stays until the exam is over and the survivor is released, then returns home to get ready to be at work by 8:00 a.m. 
Yes all of you, the dedicated staff of California rape crisis centers.  You have gone beyond the call of duty on so many occasions that it has become the norm instead of the exception to the rule. 
This behavior that you display while admirable on many levels can have a negative effect on you physically and emotionally.  In order to be an effective resource for survivors of sexual assault you need to give some critical attention to your self care.  CALCASA has continually stressed the importance of trauma stewardship for crisis center staff.  In February 2010, CALCASA held a Trauma Stewardship one day training in Pacifica, California.  We also distributed a book to every California rape crisis center written by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky titled “An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others”.  In addition, CALCASA designed an entire Wellness Track at the National Sexual Assault Conference in September 2010 that was sponsored by the Joyful Heart Foundation.  Some of the workshops from the Wellness Track were:

  • Self-Care Tools for Everyone! – Breathing, Yoga and Writing
  • Creative Expression for releasing, transforming and healing
  • Techniques for Self Massage
  • Core Fusion
  • The Joy Diet (Self-Care for Advocates)

 The internal calling of a heart for service to help survivors can be strong.  The alarm of self preservation to have a healthy work life balance should be just as strong.  I talked about the importance of work life balance in an post I wrote last year titled “Life is a Balancing Act”.   Having a balance between work and life can restore some harmony to your life and reduce stress.  Take a “time out” to enjoy the blessing in your life.  I coach my son’s under 6 soccer team and my daughter’s under 10 soccer team; that is one of my releases and pleasures in life.  Please share in the comment box below what you do to take care of yourself and establish or try to find that healthy work life balance.  Remember, it is okay to  hang up some of those hats that you wear from time to time.