Empathy Exhaustion

Have observed too much of this lately

where staff deal with such tragic violence,

domestic abuse and mental health issues

their staple diet on a daily basis


When someone presents a lesser issue

they struggle to engage or empathise

their emotions drained by drastic drama

not their fault but makes one wonder


how they are coping outside work hours

if they sleep, guess their home life suffers

secondary trauma drains by stealth

am quite sure it affects their health


Regular debriefing or close supervision

might help but doubt their employers

consider it. The damage far reaching,

burn out means more time off ….


legal aid, welfare agencies, local councils anyone directly dealing with those
trying to exist 45% below the poverty line!

Maybe their energy might be spent advocating for more realistic payments

… instead of attempting to patch up the impossible …


  1. one of the things that caught my attention during my work in Auckland, domestic violence is openly discussed though not everyone if forthcoming as it is a stigma. who wants to be seen as weak and needy. poverty is the root of much abuse due to not being able to break a vicious cycle. i get compassion fatigue at work, some days i need to crawl under my blanket and just be still, then let words help me make sense of it all

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tsk tsk…this is so true Kate…whether these people are paid enough or not, the effect in their well being is still the same…they get burned out…we all get burned out.
    I remember back in my academe days when i was still teaching. I dealt with students and young people who’s family can’t even barely make both ends meet and my heart bleeds for these students who struggled financially to finish school, at times i tried to even help, but little did i realize that it too is taking a toll on my well being..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so right, Kate! Excellent poem and subject matter!
    Instead of continuing to “patch” why aren’t things made better…which is to everyone’s benefit in the long run?
    Everyone needs support. But especially those people whose lives/jobs are devoted to supporting others.
    PS…How you be?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve met a lot of burned out health professionals. What they see stresses them out, and they’d rather be apathetic. They need more pay, but that line of work won’t do it. Being on the poverty line isn’t that bad if you’re on aid because it’s a guaranteed paycheck with benefits, like health and food stamps, food pantry and free groceries from certain chains..

    Liked by 2 people

    • maybe in your country but these people in Australia cannot survive so far below the poverty line … the health professionals here are paid more than well enough but they don’t have enough real support …

      Liked by 1 person

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