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Heroes Often Pay An Emotional Price for Saving Us

Mitigating vicarious trauma is paramount to keeping professionals doing the arduous work of protecting and saving us in their professions, because burn-out, substance abuse, depression and suicide are tragic, unnecessary, and preventable.

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Teams were established in 1998 by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to fight the ever growing and insidious problem of child exploitation using the internet to spread the abuse. Imagine the hundreds of hours of exploitation materials these men and women must view every day in their jobs to put predators behind bars and keep children safe. Something needed to be developed to support the mental health of these heroes.

“Vicarious trauma is an occupational challenge for people working and volunteering in the fields of victim services, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire services, and other allied professions, due to their continuous exposure to victims of trauma and violence.”   – Office For Victims of Crime

In 2009, The Innocent Justice Foundation partnered with the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Commanders, and leading mental health experts in the child sexual abuse field to develop and provide one of the first comprehensive and foundational training programs in the United States to address and mitigate vicarious trauma. Over the last eleven years this small non-profit has provided over 50,000 hours of mental health support and training, to over 16,000 heroes across the country through SHIFT Supporting Heroes in mental health Foundational Training. This program is saving lives and helping to keep highly trained people in their jobs.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation in 2019 and again in 2020, the Foundation has been able to develop a program for community heroes. HART – Helping Advocates Rebound from Trauma is for those working in victim services, law enforcement, first-responders, and others who are at risk of experiencing vicarious trauma from their exposure to traumatic materials, events, and victim stories. This grant allows us to establish the program in San Diego County first, with the goal of expanding across the country to serve organizations in need of this support for free.  

TIJF is participating in Giving Tuesday, December 1, 2020, in our annual effort to raise funds to support program growth, public education and outreach. Catalytic Risk Managers, one of the largest independent underwriting managers operating in the U.S. specialty property catastrophe marketplace, has generously offered to match the first $2500 raised during the campaign from November 1st through December 4th.  Please join us in supporting the mental health of heroes through this campaign.

Donate today and help us get our match!


Our programs are here to help, because losing any professional to burn-out, severe depression, substance abuse or suicide is unnecessary, tragic, and preventable.
This is why we do what we do.