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Secondary Trauma

When learning that a friend, family member, or intimate partner has been victimized, the event can be just as traumatic for you. You may experience a range of reactions like: shock, anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear. It is okay, and quite normal to experience these emotions. There is no "wrong" way to feel, and the important thing is that you show your loved one that you care.

Avoid disbelieving your loved one or blaming yourself; the incident is no more your fault than it was your loved one's. In order to be a good support for your loved one and help them accept what happened, you too need to accept what happened. You are not expected to know all the answers to every question, but knowing what direction to point your loved one in can help. 

More importantly, take care of yourself! Along with supporting your loved one as they explore their emotions, find ways to cope with your own. Also, try not to get too caught up in their needs to the point where you start neglecting your own.

For information on self-care and secondary victims of trauma, please visit RAINN's Self-Care for Friends and Family Members and the University of Maryland's Office of the Victim Advocate website on Secondary Victims.  Call the First Responder Network any time for support and resources: 301-904-2015