The impacts of working with victims of sexual violence: a rapid evidence assessment


Crivatu, I., Horvath, M. and Massey, K. 2023. The impacts of working with victims of sexual violence: a rapid evidence assessment. Trauma, Violence and Abuse. 24 (1), pp. 56-71.
TitleThe impacts of working with victims of sexual violence: a rapid evidence assessment
AuthorsCrivatu, I., Horvath, M. and Massey, K.

Aim: Supporting clients who have experienced trauma can lead to trauma symptoms in those working with them; workers in the sexual violence field are at heightened risks of these. This article collated and critically appraised papers, published from 2017 onward, in the area of people assisting victims of sexual violence. It explores the impacts and effects the work has on them, their coping and self-care mechanisms, and organizational support offered to them.
Design: A question-based rapid evidence assessment with a triangulated weight of evidence approach was used. Academic and nonacademic databases were searched. Twenty-five papers were included for analysis based on the inclusion/exclusion criteria.
Results: Most studies were of medium to high methodological quality. Negative impacts included trauma symptoms, disrupted social relationships, behavioral changes, and emotional and psychological distress. Ability to manage negative impacts was influenced by overall organizational support, availability of training, supervision and guidance, workloads and caseload characteristics, individual characteristics, and their coping and self-care mechanisms. Positive impacts included empowering feelings, improved relationships, compassion satisfaction, and posttraumatic growth.
Conclusions: Impacts are significant. Support at work and in personal life increases staff’s ability to cope and find meaning in their role. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Keywordspractitioner, professional, review, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, sexual violence, burnout
Research GroupForensic Psychology Research group
JournalTrauma, Violence and Abuse
Publication dates
Online18 May 2021
Print01 Jan 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited21 May 2021
Accepted13 Apr 2021
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
Copyright Statement

© The Author(s) 2021
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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