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Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, '94
Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide To Caring for Self While Caring for Others
By Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, ’94, with Connie Burk
Foreword by Jon Conte
Las Olas Press, 2007
Buy this book online at University Book Store
For two decades, Lipsky has been working with survivors of child abuse, domestic violence and natural disasters—the sort of care that can be exhausting, and even traumatic, for its providers. Trauma Stewardship is a reader-friendly guide to surviving one’s work with survivors, punctuated by first-person testimonials and leavened with reprinted New Yorker cartoons (a cow jumps over the moon in the background, while one earthbound cow says to another, ‘But she’ll come down eventually, and she’ll come down hard.’)
“‘Are you sure all this trauma work hasn’t gotten to you?’ he asked.
“We were visiting our relatives in the Caribbean. We’d hiked to the top of some cliffs on a small island, and for a moment the entire family stood quietly together, marveling, looking out at the sea. It was an exquisite sight: turquoise water as far as you could see; a vast, cloudless sky; and air that felt incredible to breathe. As we reached the edge of the cliffs, my first thought was: ‘This is unbelievably beautiful.’ My second thought was: ‘I wonder how many people have killed themselves by jumping off these cliffs?’
“Assuming I was merely giving voice to what each person was thinking, I posed this question out loud. My stepfather-in-law turned to me slowly and asked his question so sincerely that I finally understood: My work had gotten to me. I had always considered myself a self-aware person, but this moment was the first time I truly comprehended the degree to which my work had changed me.”