“If I can listen to what he tells me, if I can understand how it seems to him, if I can sense the emotional flavor which it has for him, then I will be releasing potent forces of change within him.”
How Can You Help?
Allow the whistleblower to take the lead in their recovery. Let them talk about the retaliation on their own time schedule and remember that your role is to be supportive not therapeutic. Create a safe environment in which they can count on you—for “simply being there” or even for talking through the moment. Recognize that you are not going to FIX IT and there is nothing that you can do to erase the personal trauma of the retaliation. Listen without judgment, BELIEVE what the person is telling you about the Retaliation and leave analysis of the truth of the Whistleblower’s allegations to someone more qualified.
“Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the gratefully and appreciating heart.”
Validate their feelings of anger, pain, sadness, fear, shame and accept the way the Whistleblower describes that experience.
The Retaliation will cause the Whistleblower to question whom to trust. In a number of different ways relationships are the first thing to be impacted after retaliation has occurred.
"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
Remember that every person heals differently—at their own pace, in their own time, and follow their own journey to recovery.
Avoid the “count your blessings” statements that may be heard as judgmental and possibly trivialize what has happened.
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
Encourage the person to get the help they feel they need—whether that is to push for further investigation of the whistleblower’s allegations, legal representation, psychological counseling, going to Yoga or Self-Defense classes, moving to a new state, disconnecting with their old social network, reconnecting with their faith, learning to meditate, learning a new hobby or pursuing a law degree —whatever.
"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words."
Rachel Naomi Remen
Let the Whistleblower take the lead in asking for referrals and supportive advocacy because they are in the best position to assess their own situation and needs.
“Between you and every goal that you wish to achieve, there is a series of obstacles, and the bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacles. Your decision to be, have and do something out of the ordinary entails facing difficulties and challenges that are out of the ordinary as well. Sometimes your greatest asset is simply your ability to stay with it longer than anyone else."
Vicarious Trauma can occur to people trying to support the Whistleblower. Whistleblower Retaliation and Workplace Bullying can be devastating for the Whistleblower as well as his/her friends, family, partners, room-mates, teachers, co-workers, social workers, police officers, neighbors and any one attempting to provide support. Retaliation causes an array of emotions in even those supportive to the Whistleblower. There are several ways in which you can be supportive and help the Whistleblower facing Retaliation but be aware that as a part of the support network—you also may need extra support and you must weigh your own thoughts, feelings, values, and beliefs around what the Whistleblower is experiencing.
“Great minds have purposes, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune, but great minds rise above them.”
Common Reactions of Whistleblowers to Retaliation Trauma
Anxiety and Fear
Flashbacks /Unwanted, Intrusive & Distressing Memo-ries of Retaliation Events
Shutting down or Emotional numbing
Physical health symptoms
"Being defeated is only a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent."
Marilyn vos Savant
"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way."
Martin Luther King Jr.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
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