Blain Nelson's Abuse Pages
DV Resources from Academic Family Medicine Mail-list Archive
Taking Care of Yourself While Working with Women on the Edge of Crisis
  1. You are only the first line of intervention. Don't shoulder too much of the load and become victimized yourself. You have a limited role.
  2. Know your bottom line. It is not to save her, but to provide resources, support, and access to help. The rest is up to her.
  3. Make sure you have and use a support system. Talk with co-workers, your partner, your friends.
  4. Respect each woman's process and pace. Keep your - and her expectations realistic. Trust her to make the best decisions about her own life, even if you disagree.
  5. Pay attention to the aspects of her behavior that upset you the most. She may remind you of something in yourself you don't want to see or accept.
  6. Don't play God. Your job is to provide resources, access, support and information. You are a broker, not a savior.
  7. Don't take responsibility for the abuse, or for her decision to stay or leave. Don't feel or act rejected if she doesn't take your advice. Don't take it personally if she does not trust you. The last person she trusted beat her up. Remember that you did your best.
  8. You may never get thanks from the women you work with. Learn to appreciate yourself, and to accept strokes from others, like your co-workers and partner. Remember that they are in need of the same thing.
  9. Don't become part of the crisis. If you are emotionally overwhelmed, step out of the situation, or get support for yourself. Don't put her in the position of having to take care of you .
  10. Support and admire the courage, strength and wisdom it took for her to ask for help.
  11. Enjoy the highs of the changes you are privileged to be part of. When things look bleak, remember that there was a time that battering was not even acknowledged or a crime.
  12. Do what you tell the women you work with to do:
    • Take care of yourself
    • Don't internalize your feelings, but transform them through problem-solving, writing, exercising, talking
    • Don't overload yourself; take things a step at a time
    • Take a break and use your own self-nurturing skills. That includes asking for help and support.

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