“I was 19 and had my first overseas business trip whereby after a couple drinks over dinner, my manager incessantly asked me to join him in his hotel room and not to waste the big bed. I repeatedly said I wasn’t interested with a nervous smile and ‘giggle’, because I didn’t know how else to respond to someone thrice my age with two teenage daughters…”, Stories like these are one of the many reasons we at Hollaback! do the work we do.
In the wake of #metoo, we’ve heard from many of you that you’re exhausted by hearing more stories of harassment. We hear you — and this feeling many of us are experiencing, actually has a name: “secondary trauma” or “compassion fatigue.”
According to the Psychiatric Times, secondary trauma is defined as indirect exposure to trauma through a firsthand account or narrative of a traumatic event. For some of us hearing repeated stories of harassment may result in some of the following:
- Experiencing a set of symptoms and reactions that parallel PTSD (e.g., re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal).
- Having a hard time listening to other people’s stories of harassment, or feeling emotionally exhausted after you do listen.
- Remembering things that happened to you that you haven’t thought about in years or getting thrown off by sharing their own story of harassment.
Secondary traumatization is also referred to as compassion fatigue (Figley, 1995) and vicarious traumatization (Pearlman and Saakvitne, 1995). Know that you’re not alone.
I know, you are probably asking: so then why do we keep telling stories? Short answer — Movements are fueled by stories. The second we stop sharing our stories, our work to end harassment becomes detached from the needs and experiences of real people.
So we’re going to keep sharing stories. But if you need to take a break — know that that’s OK. We’re not running a race, we’re running a marathon. It’s not just OK — it’s good for you and the movement — pass the baton when you need a break. Feel free to check out our self-care guide when you are in need of some self-care.
Every story that comes into the site is approved by a really amazing human: Gabriela Mejia, Communications Fellow. If you have a spare minute to email her a message of gratitude, please do: [email protected]