After returning from a local partner visit and training, our International Program Director, Dr. Becca Johnson, sat down to answer some questions about her work and the impact we can have in the countries we serve.
Thanks for taking time to sit down and chat
No problem at all, I’m happy to talk about the work in the field.
Can you share a little about yourself?
I have been a licensed psychologist for over 25 years and have served as trainer, counselor, consulting psychologist, clinical director and aftercare director for numerous anti-trafficking and child abuse organizations.
What do you hope to achieve when you visit a partner site?
I generally have three goals. My desire is to encourage and provide practical support to those directly serving trafficking survivors, provide specific training on addressing trauma, and provide consultations on any particularly challenging cases the staff may be facing.
What kind of challenges do the staff at our partner sites face?
The amount of stress experienced by the staff is generally quite high, as they daily face the practical and emotional needs of the trauma victims they serve. This is compounded by financial and budgetary concerns, as well as the potentially dangerous situations that arise in rescuing and working with victims of human trafficking. Addressing vicarious trauma (the trauma experienced by those who work with trafficking survivors day in and day out) is essential. As someone once said, if you work with trauma survivors, “It is not a matter of IF, but WHEN” you will experience this vicarious trauma yourself.
How do you help the staff to overcome these challenges?
I sit down and talk with the staff to find out what they are doing and how. What are the main challenges they face? Where do they most want help? What are their toughest cases? And, as I already shared, it is always helpful to educate about vicarious trauma and the importance of self-care. If they aren’t addressing that area, the staff will burn out, become ineffective, or leave.
How does your assistance given to the staff lead to better care given to survivors?
When I visit a site, my hope is that I can leave the staff better equipped, feeling better about what they are doing, and most importantly, I hope that it directly benefits the healing process for survivors. I provide easy-to-understand, research-based, accessible, and practical information on trauma recovery. We are finding that those involved in victim restoration are receiving useful information they can implement and, most importantly, victims are experiencing emotional healing and hope amidst the horrendous and multiple traumas of their past.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share more about your work in the field!
Thank you as well, I consider it a privilege to be able to contribute to a victim’s healing journey.
Dr. Becca Johnson is the International Program Director for Rescue:Freedom International.
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