Being a Social Worker sometimes means dealing with a darkness that many people will never see. And those people are happier for it. I have had friends and associates tell me multiple times that they don’t want to think about the things social workers address every day. I understand. So, why do social workers choose a career fraught with secondary trauma? Because they want to make a difference. They want to share their light.
When I investigated sexual abuse against children, the atrocities I investigated every day could have easily led me to a dark place. Working with the “non-offending” family members, I often got frustrated by the blinders some of them would put on to avoid the ugly truth living right in their own homes. I had to learn that while certainly normal to feel that frustration, I could not allow those feelings to lead me to a place of blame. Blaming without knowing the deeper truths in each family could easily hinder me from engaging with the family to help them discover or strengthen their own protective capacities. After years of working with these types of families I learned that the dark secrets were often part of a cycle handed down from parent to child. To address and admit that it was in their own house, they would have to address that the same thing had happened to them when they were children. However, by engaging and building trust, rather than judging, I was often able to partner with the family and link them to the interventions needed to bring light to that cycle and to help them begin the healing process.
Social Workers deal with cycles of abuse every day. They see children caught up in domestic violence, drug abuse and emotional abuse. They work with children who have been physically harmed by the people who they look to for safety. These workers, walking into those dark places, are able to shine the light on how past hurt and pain can lead to perpetuating that abuse. Without that light, the cycle most likely would continue.
Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”. In our world, we see the light in the people we serve when others see only the darkness. And the families we serve, often are hopeless, and have only seen the future through a black veil.
Social Workers: You help them see a glimpse of a what could be. You are sharing hope. Keep shining the light in the darkness. The cost is high but the intrinsic benefits are many. By restoring hope, you bring light…by sharing hope you Are the light.