The people the Polaris Project helps have been through some of the worst things human beings can do to each other. Hearing their stories, and learning about human trafficking as an industry and a crime, is supposed to be upsetting. There is a term we used in Orientation: Secondary Trauma. It is where people hearing the stories of people who have suffered a trauma take some of that trauma into themselves.
But people who work on human trafficking have to stay healthy and balanced, or they can’t help the people who need them. Polaris Project does a great job of encouraging what we call “self-care”, where fellows and staff are all asked to check in with themselves, and take care of themselves mentally all the time.
This week, my most successful tactic in combating secondary trauma has been to fix problems. One day, I turned up my bicycle. Another, I baked a cake. Today, I biked on some nature trails around my house, and bought 2 pairs of shoes at Payless.
Each of these activities gave me a chance to take a problem with way bothering me (a slow bike, a hungry set of friends, fancy shoes that I can’t bike in) and fix it. Trafficking is not a problem I can fix, but because I want to, I get frustrated. By giving myself problems, small, easy problems, to fix, I feel better by the time I go to sleep.
Next stop: find a part-time job.
“It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray. . . .”
“There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
“It’s a lot more complicated than that—”
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”–Granny Weatherwax, Carpe Jugulum