As we promote our services, one thing we tell people we offer is crisis intervention. Someone may ask, what is crisis intervention? “Crisis intervention, either on the phone or face-to-face, attempts to deal quickly with an immediate problem.” Some refer to crisis intervention as a type of emotional first aid. Management of emotions, not finding immediate resolutions, is the goal. As an advocate providing crisis intervention, we support survivors in whatever way they need our support. We try to normalize their reaction to the trauma they have experienced so they know they are not alone and their reaction is very normal. We work with them to put things in perspective and prioritize their concerns to ensure their safety. Advocates also strive to make sure survivors are treated respectfully and that their privacy is protected. As part of our crisis intervention, sometimes our part is to allow the survivor a chance to calm down, talk about things and be able to think rationally before moving forward in decisions.
Crisis intervention works best if began as soon as possible after a trauma. The first 72 hours after a trauma represents the crisis period of emotional disequilibrium. During this time period, emotions are understandably out of balance and just thinking logically is difficult or impossible. Often if crisis intervention begins during this critical time period, secondary trauma can be avoided and healing is facilitated. We work to assess the support system available to the survivor and enhance that support as we can. Having a strong support system who allows a survivor to work through their traumatic experience at their own pace without pressure is indispensable.
During that initial crisis period, we work to help the survivor make their own decisions such as whether or not to report to the police, deciding on a medical examination, help work through fears for their safety and fears of contracting a disease from the perpetrator, deciding who they want to know about their trauma, deciding where to go after the trauma so they feel safe. We also start the process of alleviating self-blame, shame and embarrassment, and any suicidal thoughts and work to replace those with feelings of acceptance, normalcy, empathy and support. We work to lay the foundation to rebuild that person’s self-esteem.
We work to normalize a survivor’s response to an assault by providing information about what they may expect to feel in the next days, weeks or months ahead. We talk about typical responses before they occur, letting them know what they are feeling is normal. We let them know that no matter what they feel, they are not the first to feel this way, and they are not alone. Avoidance is a common coping strategy, but it has been shown to be ineffective in helping in recovery. We offer a safe place to face those feelings and work through them.
If you, or a loved one, have experienced a sexual assault at any time in your life or if you are dealing with a intimate partner violence situation, we hope you will reach out. Our services are free and confidential. Crisis Services of North Alabama Jackson County Office can be contacted for an appointment at 256.574.5826 or you may call our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000 and speak with a trained crisis counselor.