We Are Humans Too

Secondary Traumatic Stress Among Novice Victim Advocates


  • Lisa De La Rue University of San Francisco
  • Lilyana Ortega Colorado State University
  • Gena Castro Rodriguez University of San Francisco




secondary traumatic stress, victim advocate, vicarious trauma, secondary trauma, criminal justice, Survivor advocate


The current manuscript focuses on the experiences of Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) among novice victim advocates. Victim advocates work with survivors of violent crimes and provide emotional and logistical support to their clients, helping clients navigate the criminal justice system. Through individual interviews, the current study explored how advocates managed their exposure to traumatic events and how they believed it impacted them professionally and personally. Nine victim advocates were interviewed, and principles of thematic analysis were used to code the interviews and analyze the data. From the interviews three major themes emerged related to STS: worldview shifts, secondary traumatic stress symptoms, and burnout. Two major themes emerged related to prevention: colleague support and recognizing successes. Conclusions: Advocates are a particularly vulnerable population of helping professions that are at risk for STS. Increased awareness and acknowledgement of their work will be an important component of intervention efforts. Supporting the needs of novice advocates will be necessary to allow people to sustain in their career, and to be better positioned to support survivors of violent crimes.


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How to Cite

De La Rue, L., Ortega, L., & Castro Rodriguez, G. (2024). We Are Humans Too: Secondary Traumatic Stress Among Novice Victim Advocates. Journal for Social Action in Counseling & Psychology, 15(2), 2–16. https://doi.org/10.33043/JSACP.15.2.2-16

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