Compassion Fatigue


One question … Is it possible to watch this video and not experience an emotional reaction?!

This is what it’s like to experience joy – vicariously.


Just as you can experience joy through other’s experience, you can also experience negative emotions…..


“You can’t trust anyone these days”     “I’m just so tired of dealing with these crime victims”     “I don’t trust anyone, not my neighbors, not my supervisors, not even some of my own family anymore” “I wouldn’t let my kids go to summer camp! What kind of adults want to spend their summer around little kids?!” “Everyone’s out for their own good now a days”


Have you ever heard someone utter such comments?


Repeated exposure to crime, crime victims and suffering can alter you Worldview. Your Worldview can be thought of as a general way you perceive and conceptualize society and people’s motivation and intentions. Changes in Worldview, such as impaired ability to trust, excessive security concerns, a heightened fear for the lives and safety of loved ones, pervasive suspiciousness of others motives, increased anger and cynicism are often understood to be inevitable costs of doing police work – they become the “normal” way of thinking about society. Most of the time however, developing a negative Worldview is a byproduct of repeated exposure to trauma and working with victims who have been traumatized.


This process of change that can occur is referred to as Vicarious Traumatization, or compassion fatigue. Vicarious Traumatization is the result of opening one’s heart and mind to victims of trauma while concomitantly feeling the responsibility to help.


Strategies to Mitigate Vicarious Traumatization

 (and turn these experiences into growth opportunities)


MAINTAIN GOOD BOUNDARIES. Stay in your role and focus on the job that needs to be done. For example, keep your attention on the facts of the event and the information that needs to be gathered to complete the investigation.

 BE COMPASSIONATE. Be compassionate when dealing with victims and families but do not try to imagine what it would be like for you if you had to go through such an experience or if your loved one had suffered the trauma.

STAY CONNECTED. Maintain and nurture your support system; talk to trusted others about incidents that “stick with you.” The emotional pull of an incident decreases the more we talk about it.

 HAVE MEANING. Remember why you became a cop or went to work for the LAPD. This is a profession that is noble, inherently valuable and changes hundreds of peoples lives for the better. That difference may not be immediately apparent with each incident or case, but collectively each and everyone within this organization contributes to the greater good of “to protect and to serve.”