Wednesday, April 14

Trauma-care lessons for shelter staff

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A shelter for trafficking survivors in South 24Parganas had no fixed visiting hours till last year. Frequent interaction with family members would often aggravate survivors’ trauma and make them hostile towards rehabilitation. The organisation now allows family members to visit once a week.

Setting such boundaries has helped Digambarpur Angikar get better results in counselling trafficking survivors and abused children.

Many social workers and shelter home staff shared their success stories at a meet organised by International Justice Mission (IJM) at Seva Kendra Calcutta on Thursday. Children in shelters can be exposed to multiple abuse and may be suffering from complex trauma.

With the state’s focus on resettling these children in their home environment, shelter employees often get only a couple of months to counsel victims.

The duration is hardly enough unless a proper assessment plan is in place, social workers said.

IJM’s Trauma Informed Care (TIC) programme has been training shelter employees to assess an individual’s trauma, build trust and connect better with the survivors to help in smooth rehabilitation.

“Many a times a survivor may be returned to her home and community but the latter are not equipped to deal with trauma or help her overcome it. That might traumatise her again and prompt her to take unsafe decisions,” said Anju Sherpa, the manager of the aftercare team at IJM.

A large number of survivors run away from home or are re-trafficked, social workers said.

The three-day training focuses on sensitising every employee of the shelter — from the cook to the manager — so as to make them aware of every victim’s trauma.

“Words like psychotic and mad are sometimes used to describe a victim’s behaviour and these cause trauma,” said another social worker, not wanting to be named.

“We had a girl who ran away from home eight times because she was not allowed to take part in sports. It was tough winning her trust. She felt we were not doing enough to convince her father. Individual trauma assessment helped as she was different from most girls in the shelter,” said Anima Das, an NGO worker.

Building resilience, trust and chalking out a coping mechanism are part of the TIC programme. “The shelter staff must present a united front to avoid being manipulated by victims,” said Elizabeth V. Koshy, a psychologist with IJM-Calcutta.

The third day of the programme deals with secondary and vicarious trauma. “We teach the staff how not to get too affected by incidents of trauma. Secondary trauma often leaves them frustrated and helpless,” Koshy said.

The training has been imparted to representatives of Sanlaap, All Bengal Women’s Union, Bhumi, World Vision and government shelters.


Source: The Telegraph

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