At the Suzy Lamplugh Trust the impact of stress from our work supporting survivors of stalking is significant in 'ordinary' times. Advocacy services such as those supporting victims of stalking and coercive control are typically already stretched to capacity. Overwhelm of services and staff is a daily occurrence and there can be little latitude to focus on self-care and building resilience. 

When disasters and emergencies occur, like Covid-19, those stressors are amplified significantly, and create unforeseen, logistical challenges. The pandemic experience is one of collective vulnerability and in the words of Brene Brown, 'we can be our worst selves when we're afraid, or our very best, bravest selves'. More than ever, teams need resilience strategies embedded into individual and organisational management.

Psychological resilience based in self-care is very different from forcing yourself to be constantly positive, particularly in difficult circumstances. Ignoring difficulties actually breaks down our resilience. Psychologist Susan David challenges societies unhealthy obsession with happiness in her critique, the Tyranny of Positivity; 

'Humans must develop the skills and capacity to deal with difficult times - not sweep it aside as a glitch in the smooth delivery of constant happiness. Sadness, heartbreak, and grief are not signs of weakness, and pretending these "ugly" emotions do not exist only hinders our authentic existence and how we experience life. Moreover, it lowers our resilience in dealing with future difficulties as well.'

However, in these 'unprecedented times' where is our reference point? How can we know that this will pass? How do we anchor ourselves through deep uncertainty and where is the balance between positivity and the acknowledgement of uncomfortable emotions? In this article, I offer you three key perspectives to assist you:


Strategies for Resilience

Firstly, it may be useful to acknowledge the courage of survivors who have lived with, or currently live with, danger and uncertainty from their abusers and stalkers. The more dangerous & coercive the abuse, the harder and more dangerous it is for that individual to leave, particularly if they have caring responsibilities. Yet we ask that survivor, in the midst and often at the peak of the danger - a time of great threat & paralysing fear, to take a leap of faith and trust that this will pass. 

We ask survivors to trust an imperfect criminal justice system. We ask them to trust that they can create a fulfilling future despite being broken down by months and sometimes years of stalking or abuse. Perhaps during this time of lockdown and physical distancing, we are more connected to the complexity of traumatic experiences and the visceral impact this has on our ordinary abilities to function and trust. When our daily distractions and safety blankets are removed, we are left with overhearing the loud chatter of our forgotten fears and darkest insecurities. 

Secondly, we can challenge the notion that the impact of the recent chain of events is unprecedented. The current situation is unusual, but the level of fear and uncertainty that connects many of us now, is in itself not unprecedented when we think of the impact of war, natural disasters, sexual violence, stalking and fatal domestic abuse. If we fill our day by focussing on the possible and future danger, we trigger our flight, fight and freeze responses. There is benefit in noticing where we focus our mind and adjusting that focus as needed.

On 12th March the WHO released a briefing paper - "Mental Health & Psychosocial Considerations During Covid-19 Outbreak". This document includes guidance to health professionals and their managers. Under the General Population item number 3, WHO advise that we minimize watching, reading or listening to news that causes us to feel anxious or distressed. They recommend the following;

  • Seek information only from trusted sources & take practical steps
  • Seek information updates at specific times
  • The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports can cause anyone to feel worried
  • Get the facts; not the rumours and misinformation. Distinguish facts from rumours, facts can help to minimize fears.

Thirdly, notice what is going on in your 'whole-body system' - your mind, body and emotions. In my coaching practice I share powerful tools and techniques that do this, such as mindfulness, meditation and breathing exercises. All are simple, time efficient techniques that can be used anywhere and will quickly calm your physiology and fear responses. In addition, implementing simple things such as walking away from your computer and stretching will release stress and allow you to feel more comfortable. While working from home, it is important to take regular breaks and where you can, check in with colleagues or friends to reduce the feelings of isolation. For those essential workers who have continuously been at work, follow the health and safety guidance and seek support from peers and managers as needed. For managers, listen to your staff and know that 'being human' may be your greatest asset at this time.


Cath Kane has worked extensively with public sector and Not for Profits meet the challenges of change through fostering resilience in teams and cultivating authentic leadership in highly pressurised situations. She is an associate consultant to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.  

Cath's coaching is infused with more that 20 years' experience creating, managing and advising an award winning projects in the arena of interpersonal violence and inter-agency responses. 

Cath is currently based in the US and expanding her coaching practice across North America. She specialises in empowerment & leadership evolution for women. For more information on her coaching programmes, click on the link below and join her private facebook group for updates and free content. 


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