crimes is a necessity to protect the innocent and vulnerable. The sexual crimes of human trafficking, child
pornography, prostitution and child molestation are crimes that devastate
victim’s lives and destroy trust. Individuals working these crimes do so in
order attempt to stop the devastation.
However, there has been little attention given to the psychological
damage that can be created by performing these investigations.
brain was not designed to undergo the trauma of a sexual crime. Looking at images, listening to victims and
interrogating perpetrators of these offenses leave marks on the psyche that are
somewhat subtle at first, but can develop into psychological difficulties that
are more profound. There Is a phenomena of secondary trauma that can occur
where the investigator develops symptoms similar to the victim. A development of the feelings that the world
is not safe creates fear, which may manifest itself in anxiety, depression, isolation
or numbness as a reaction to the atrocities the officer has to endure in the
course of an investigation.
We as humans
are relational beings and intimacy is part of our psychological make up. When someone is exposed to the perversion of
intimacy it can result in changes in their own relationships, anywhere from
repulsion of intimacy itself to believing everyone is sexually disturbed and
it’s just a matter of time before it occurs.
The violation of something so private as feelings regarding relationships
is tragic. Wanting to help others and save victims turns the helper into
another victim of the perversion.
Few if any
departments recognize the toll sex crimes plays on the ones doing the
investigations. There is little if any
down time between cases and debriefing is not a thought. The accumulation of
numerous accounts of these types of crimes can result in a build–up of trauma
and numbness to others develops as a self-protection mechanism. The problem with this numbing is that it is
not under conscious control and not only happens on the job but carries over to
personal relationships. There is rarely
a discussion how the job affects the home life of law enforcers in general, let
alone what sex crime work does to the private lives of the investigators.
Investigators need to protect what they have at
home because that is who will be there at the end of the day.