Professional Development for Abuse Survivors

professional developmentProfessional Development for Abuse Survivors

Many unique challenges face survivors of childhood abuse, and several of them deal with professional development (in the workplace). Trauma leaves a lasting impression and can make it difficult to function in all kinds of environments. Let’s look at some techniques that survivors can employ to help them build successful, rewarding careers despite past trauma.

Go at Your Own Pace

The most important piece of advice we have is to take your time and be patient and gracious toward yourself. Stress can be a significant trigger for some people; high anxiety can lead to a mental or emotional spiral. It’s completely okay (and more normal than you might think) to take extra time to complete your degree or pass on a high-stakes promotion. What is more important is caring for yourself and your needs to be fully present in your life.

Prioritize Your Education

There are many compelling reasons why higher education can be so crucial to long-term healing and happiness. We are (in part, at least) defined by what we do for work for better or worse. While you are so much more than a job, getting an education within the field you want to work in is an incredibly powerful way to take control of your life. 

In addition, survivors of abuse sometimes struggle with competency. Imposter syndrome occurs more frequently in people who have experienced trauma than in the general public. While these are serious psychological problems that need to be addressed by a professional, academic achievement can help mitigate them.  

Finally, while money cannot buy happiness, being financially secure with the ability to meet your needs is even more critical for trauma survivors. Food, shelter, or safety insecurity is enormously triggering for some. It is an indisputable fact that people with a college degree earn a great deal more money throughout their lives.

Advocate for Yourself and Utilize Resources 

More than likely, your co-workers and employers won’t know how to make accommodations for you if you don’t ask for them. Trauma survivors are particularly worried about “causing a scene” or “making a fuss.” Still, the reality is that most people in this environment want you to succeed and are willing to help. What’s more, in some cases, they are also legally obligated to do so.

Finally, there are probably far more resources available to you than you realize. Speak with your human resources department, your college advising center, or your local advocacy center to learn more. From  applying for scholarships to stress management techniques to legal advice, they’re there to help you with whatever stage of life you’re experiencing. 

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