CASA Volunteerism

RubyBlue

Policy Enforcement
So I have a permanent schedule at work now which enables me to add volunteering to my life. One area I will certainly volunteer is at the animal shelter. Another one that I have really wanted to get involved in is CASA where I can be an advocate for children in abusive situations.

But this last week has made me very concerned about even trying. Earlier this week was a thread that made me really angry at the responses on it and I’m still struggling with this internal narrative that my trauma isn’t enough. Isn’t bad enough. It’s just a bruised toe in the grand scheme of things.

I really, really don’t want a child to have that internal voice. I want to be able to help a child realize that everything about them is valid. But how would I do that when I’m clearly very triggered by that theme? I can’t predict what a child will say or think and the very last thing I can do is walk away from that child to cool off.

How do you know if and when you are healthy enough to help people? Or are you ever truly healthy enough?
 

Freida

Sponsor
How do you know if and when you are healthy enough to help people? O
CASA is an amazing program but it's also heartbreaking, so building up your own strength is really important.
Start small and build your tolerance. I started by working at the stables, so that I was around animals first and people second and that seems to have helped me get ready to face the world
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I work in child protection. (I knew aged 12 I wanted to do this work and never had a conscious understanding of why until I was in my 20's)
I think the key is knowing what you find hard personally and what you can manage. And getting good supervision or an outlet to mull things over with.
I think there is massive massive value in survivors working in child protection. But I also think it is key to make sure we reflect on ourselves and not bring too much of our own experiences into the work. I often reflect on "why am I feeling this" for this particular child and make sure my work is even more rooted in theory and question my practice more on the cases I know I find more emotionally challenging.
Surprisingly, it is not the sexual abuse cases that get to me the most. I think that is because there is child protection intervention happening. That child is getting support, therapy, validation, help, all things that I didn't get, so there is so much hope that their trajectory and feelings of being heard and being made safe are different.

For me it is the children who slipped through the net. Or the ones that were telling adults their experiences only for appropriate child protection intervention not to happen because of professional failures. Those are the cases that get to me, because I identify more with that and the pain that causes and the missed opportunities to help that child.

So maybe your worries about being triggered might surprise you? Maybe you'll respond differently than how you think you might? Really, there is only one way to find out.....
 

Friday

Moderator
For me it is the children who slipped through the net. Or the ones that were telling adults their experiences only for appropriate child protection intervention not to happen because of professional failures. Those are the cases that get to me, because I identify more with that and the pain that causes and the missed opportunities to help that child.
The 30+ year CPS veteran and I had to end up consoling the junior CPS social worker on my sons case. They spent 2 years fighting to get my son removed from my exHusband. (Wealthy, white, & educated... if you work in the field, you know what that means just as a foundation. Add in a whole team of lawyers? Processes that take most people over a year to complete to court satisfaction, were settled with a phone call over the weekend. It was a lost cause from the beginning. But they still fought for him. And for me.)

The junior had a masters in social work, it wasn’t like she was untrained... but there’s a difference between reading and living about the terrible things people do to each other. Especially if you’re cast in the role of helping one person hurt another, when in your heart & mind & dreams you were the hero. Guarding your heart, without freezing it or breaking it? Is like walking a tightrope made of razors. You’re going to get cut, even if you manage it. But managing it at all, is a death defying feat.

* For the record... I didn’t do a very good job in consoling the poor woman. I kind of just stood there while she sobbed all over me, meeting the eyes of the woman who understood/knew better & nodding. But I take not lashing out at the distraught thing for failing to fix a problem of my own creation? (It wasn’t HER fault I married the bastard, nor that I divorced him instead of killing him). As a win. It would have been very easy to take the rage I was directing at myself and point it at anyone else. She didn’t deserve that. But it was a near thing. This was MY son she was bawling over, and I very nearly denied her the right of it. So my imitation of a block of wood? Was the best “consoling” I could manage under the circumstances.
 
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joeylittle

Administrator
You asked:
How do you know if and when you are healthy enough to help people?
And you shared:
Earlier this week was a thread that made me really angry at the responses on it and I’m still struggling with this internal narrative that my trauma isn’t enough. Isn’t bad enough. It’s just a bruised toe in the grand scheme of things.
If you're genuinely doubting your own experience as a result of that exchange - then no, you're not ready.

If you're bringing that thread up b/c you're pissed off about being disagreed with - then give it a rest. There's always a certain amount of "forum venting" that happens in member diaries, it's to be expected. But, there's also a time to either let it go, or be willing to examine the reasoning that prompted the upset reaction.

Back on topic -
I really, really don’t want a child to have that internal voice. I want to be able to help a child realize that everything about them is valid. But how would I do that when I’m clearly very triggered by that theme?
You can't, really. It's admirable to want to try - but more importantly, it's very smart to recognize that you'd be struggling to have (and maintain) the emotional separation skills that are essential.

Putting on your own mask before helping others - it matters.
 

Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
And from the other camp...

I'm not "healthy enough" to help people.

If I waited for *that* I'd never do the thing.

I just need to know if I'm competent enough to do my job well.
And have people I trust to make that judgment - in case my judgment about myself is messed up as usual.

There's always the 'You can't save them all.' And often the You can't even TRY.

How you cope with these?
What you do when you no longer CAN cope?

These are the questions.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
While I was well, I volunteered in non-frontline roles with a couple of different youth organisations, one specifically geared towards CSA. It's not as glamorous, but just as important.

If you feel like, "I need to be the person that actually faces the children...", relative to where you've described being at in your recovery? You're not ready for that.

But non-frontline positions are a great way to get your toe in the door, learn about the industry and how it works, pick up invaluable skills - that would set you up to be brilliant at this work later in the picture.

If you think that, right now? Prioritising your own recovery is most important? That's actually totally okay. Doesn't rule things out for the future. And in that case? Good grief I find volunteering with animals sooooo much more cathartic!
 

RubyBlue

Policy Enforcement
Y’all are right, I’m not ready.

And @joeylittle I’m not bringing it up in a drama way if that’s what you are implying. It’s genuinely been a major struggle this week that I am trying to work through because I did feel it was really hurtful and felt even more hurt at the exchange on the profile posts. I don’t know, it’s genuine hurt. That’s all. And I’m trying to work through it.
 
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