Listener Guidelines for Removing Chains live chat support
The world has zillions of good talkers, but good caring listeners are all too rare. We firmly believe that if more victims could talk without guilt and shaming, that there would be less suicides, self-harm, etc. All it often takes is at least one person that really cares. As the saying goes, "Love Is Louder" and we aim to make that reality on Removing Chains live chat survivor support site. Even candlelight breaks the darkness and we are thankful that you want to be "a candle on a stand" for those in fear and in the shadows. We welcome and cherish you.
The following guidelines are those we have carefully drafted over Ark of Hope for Children's years of helping survivors thrive via the internet. As Greeters, Listeners, guides and Coaches for our Removing Chains support site we ask that you familiarize yourself with them and reflect back to them often.
#4 BE PATIENT
#5 DO NOT JUDGE
#1 BECOME A GREAT LISTENER - To be a really good listener you have to help the other person talk and care about what they have to say. When they stop talking, acknowledge what they said by repeating by back to them in your own words. This helps you be sure you understand what they meant, while it confirms to the other person that you are really listening.
A Listener on Removing Chains is like a mentor, a shoulder to lean on. Your main function is NOT to be an advisor but a compassionate hearer. You can give advice but if you don't know what to say or do that will be helpful, then say hey, "I don't know, but I am happy to check into possible answers for you." Most of us want to give advice but often people don't even want that, they just want to be heard. The world has too few good listeners. If they find one in you, you will be cherished by the survivor as much as you are by us at Removing Chains.
Never share your email address or social network accounts as this is a key to trust. All chat should be ONLY on our website for the safety of both the user and the volunteer!
#2 ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS - Ask questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes and no as often as possible. This helps keep them talking while showing you are engaged and shows survivors that you care. Some suggestions are, "OK so what happened next?" or "Oh wow, how did that make you feel?" or "I see. Is that when it ended or did more happen?"
Be sensitive to when they have reached the end of the part of their story they want to talk about right now. If the End isn't obvious, like they say OK that's it, then look for when they start repeating themselves. It is best not to start helping them sort it out until this time. On the other hand, use wisdom to know when they are beginning to talk about another part of their story before they have really processed a part they have just talked about. By this we mean asking them how they feel about what they just talked about, or asking what they think they need from someone to help with that.
#3 BE AN ENCOURAGER - Let victims know that they are ok, that you respect them, that you care and believe in them. It is easy to say I love you but survivors will know when you are faking it or just throwing out idle words. If THEY feel your love, you won't even need to say it. They will know and you will hear it through their thanks. Giving encouraging words, sayings, Bible verses can very helpful, especially as you back them up with your passion filled support.
The term "Love" is over used so be careful with how you use it on Removing Chains. A victim or survivor is often in a very vulnerable state of mind. We want to protect what are often loved starved victims from being confused in this way. They can be love starved as well as being triggered by that if someone that said they loved them was physically or sexually abusing them.
This is just as true whether you are talking to a person of the opposite sex or if the other person is your same sex. No matter what their sexual persuasion they came to Removing Chains seeking help and support but can too easily become confused and imaging a relationship is starting instead.
#4 BE PATIENT – Since this is text chat there will be pauses in the conversation. Sometimes this is a connection issue due to one person having a slower internet connection. Don't be concerned if you wait for a reply. Patience means don't just shoot out a comment just because the person has not responded to a question or comment from you. This pause allows the other person to process but also allows them time to build the courage to share scary parts of their story.
If you are concerned ask if they are doing okay. Always be willing to allow your compassion to shine through. They will tell you what they need. If they say they need a break that is fine. Ask if they want to talk about something else that is light and easy, funny or in the news. Breaks are very good to allow them to calm, whether that break is for an hour or a day or two.
#5 DO NOT JUDGE - Listeners may be a Christian, like me, Removing Chains founder and lead Coach Blair Corbett, or may be of another faith or no faith at all. Those we listen to and mentor may be straight, gay, once abused or bullied, extremely emotional or a very hardened person. Grace abounds here on Removing Chains. Our focus is on being lighthouses to people who are very often suffering alone and in silence, with no or little outside support.
For this reason we want to make sure no survivor that turns to us feels judged for ANY reason. My vow to myself is that someone can tell me anything they want and I will not bat an eye! Why does that matter? If they sense that you flinched or were shocked by what they shared, you will lose them. They will begin to clam up and go silent, and perhaps turn away from seeking support o Removing Chains at all. You, our valued Listeners and Mentors represent the compassionate heart of Removing Chains. We commit to compassion that is full of grace, mercy, understanding and love.
You may ask, "Am I just supposed to throw my beliefs out a window?" No, but we are not here as judge and jury. We are here to ease their pain and confusion as an oasis of grace. Then we can guide them towards professional counselors, churches near them, authorities or legal firms as needed. Victims feel enough judgment from an insensitive, non-hearing society already.
We are to help them cope, relieve anxiety and depression in a mentoring way, and even ward off suicidal thoughts at times. So, here we love on anyone who is gay, does drugs in response to abuse, in the way that I, Blair Corbett, believe my God would have us do.
#6 BE UNDERSTANDING - As best as you can, understand what the survivor is going through. As a Listener on Removing Chains you may not have been through the same situation as them, but you should be able to connect with how the "event(s)" made them feel. On that level, all of us are able to relate to how it is or must be to feel very sad, angry, confused, depressed, etc.
It may be hard for you to understand why a person is reacting the way they are to a situation. But what matters is that they are sharing how they ARE reacting and how they DO feel about what happened. Even if you have a lingering doubt or concern if what they are sharing really happened a certain way, what is important is that it is all very real and true to them. That can be dealt with in time but when they see that you understand their feelings on their story, without judging, you will have affected their life.
#7 EARN THEIR TRUST – A victim often will not fully trust you until you have proven to be worthy of their trust. And that takes time. As the saying goes, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." Consider that if the person has been severely abused by someone they know, rented hourly for sex by a human trafficking organization or bullied, raped, robbed or even bullied by hate-filled young people their ability to trust has been degraded greatly. Trust then becomes something that the victim holds close to their heart and understandably so. For this reason and others, NEVER share your email address or social network accounts as this is a key to trust. All chat should be ONLY on our website for the safety of both the user and the volunteer!
As a Listener, Mentor or Coach on Removing Chains we must patiently earn their trust and never just expect it because of your "position." The survivor needs us to prove over time, sometimes a long time, that you will not start treating them like the person that hurt them.
#8 MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY - A key part of trust on Removing Chains is confidentiality. Everything a person share must be kept confidential. Nothing shared within the Removing Chains site should ever be carried outside of the site to another person or social network. Never share your email address or social network accounts as this is a key to trust. All chat should be ONLY on our website for the safety of both the user and the volunteer!
If you don't know how to help a person with what is going on with them, it is important to tell the survivor that you don't know how to help, but that you will seek help for them. Ask their permission to seek advice from another Coach or Mentor on Removing Chains. Ensure them that you will keep their confidentiality but that some must be shared to get them the best guidance and support. In almost all cases they will agree.
If there is an emergency situation of child abuse or of suicidal thought then confidentiality barriers must be ignored for that person's safety. Please seek help from another Coach, Mentor or Listener that is online. Also search our crisis hotline and other resource pages on Removing Chains as well as directing the survivor to do the same for help within their city, state, region or country.
#9 KNOW THAT OUTER BEHAVIORS ARE CAUSED BY PAST HURTS - If a person self-harms, drinks, is on drugs, is overweight, is a bully, is anorexic or whatever, there is usually a root cause for it. Their reactions, even if addictions, are SYMPTOMS of a much bigger ROOT underneath. It does not help in the long run to deal with the surface issues, or their "responses," until the root has been discovered and removed. This is best done by professionals of course, but you as a caring Listener can help them discover roots that were long ago covered up by a pain filled victim just trying to cope. These coping mechanisms I, (Blair Corbett), call survival tactics. They can be drugs, over or under eating, self-harm, disassociating (mentally removing themselves from their own bodies in sense for survival), and many more.
Often we find that there is more than one root so be watchful for that as well. Once together we find the root of their issue, THEN we can help them with the fact that their reaction of cutting, etc. People fail at treatment for their addictive behavior more often because that main issue was never dealt with. And that can happen because the victim never felt the needed trust with that person or professional who was "helping" them with their surface issues.
#10 OFFER ACCOUNTABILITY – If you come to a synergy, or close helping relationship with a survivor on Removing Chains, you have a unique opportunity to become an accountability partner for them. As an accountability partner you can help your survivor friend make, and then keep a commitment towards personal goals. These can be short term goals to help them reach longer term goals as well, such as not self-harming today, then tomorrow, then the next day. You can help them celebrate daily and weekly victories, as well as helping them not be self-condemning or feeling like a failure if they trip up. This part of a good mentoring relationship allows you to become their cheerleader and one of their greatest encouragers. If you make this commitment, removing chains asks you to honor it and keep it with a heart of unconditional love and support.
#11 BE SENSITIVE TO THE QUIET PERSON IN THE ROOM - The quiet ones often feel the most unwanted, hopeless and fearful. They may be quiet because they feel like never fit in anywhere, are extremely insecure. Removing Chains asks Listeners and Mentors to be must be hyper sensitive to them. Ask if they are okay publicly AND in private. If there is a bunch of idle talk going on in a room the sad person will not yell, "HEY, I need help!" They will sit for a while and if not talked to they will just leave thinking they have come to yet another non-caring site.
#12 BE SENSITIVE TO "TRIGGERING" DISCUSSIONS – Due to memories from severe child abuse, human trafficking, a bad accident or a personal crime they suffered through, survivors that come to Removing Chains may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress, flashbacks, night terrors, etc. While Removing Chains is anyone's place to share, more graphic parts of someone's story may be better shared in private conversations to another survivor does not get triggered into a flashback or anxiety attack of their own.
Ways to prevent this from happening are;
- Warn victim #2 in a private message that victim #1 is sharing possible triggering things. Tell them if they feel vulnerable to being triggered while in that room to move to another chat room for their own protection.
- Move victim #1 into a private message IF you are the only person listening to them at that time.
- Request victim #1 and anyone listening that is trying to help to move to a different room that is fitting. For instance move from Child Abuse Support to Female Survivor if they are a girl, or Male Survivor if a boy.
Regardless of our best efforts another victim / survivor can be triggered by something said. Since a smell or a loud sound can trigger someone, than words bouncing around the screen from another survivor, or even an accidental word share by you the Listener, might also trigger someone.
Do not get upset at yourself or anyone else in the room. It happens and cannot always be easily seen coming. Work towards calming the triggered person with calming, encouraging words and perhaps deep breathing techniques. Triggering WILL happen so know when it does; it is NOT your fault. Just do what you do best and facilitate a calm atmosphere.
#13 BE READY TO SWITCH ROOMS OR GO TO PRIVATE CHAT - If you are in a deep discussion with someone and it seems better to be away from others into a different chat room so you can focus then do so. Or it may happen where a bunch of people are in Youth Chat room with you and an adult survivor of abuse shows up since that is the only occupied room at the time.
You may be hanging out in the Welcome Lobby just making light conversation and someone comes in needing the Depression Room. As a Listener, Mentor or Coach on Removing Chains we ask you to be sensitive to this and ready to move to another room or go to private conversation as needed, even if on short notice. It is possible to be in more than one room at once. If you are capable of bouncing between tabbed rooms this is fine. BUT if someone you are directly helping in one room needs focused attention PLEASE either leave the other room(s) or let the other room know you are busy with someone privately at the moment.
#14 THINK BEFORE YOU SHARE YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK PROFILES - Think twice before sharing your favorite social network log-in links with survivors from Removing Chains. This is important unless you are prepared to sometimes deal with the needs of victims and survivors there as well. Sharing your information is not a bad thing, on the contrary it can be very good. However we realize that you have your own identity, privacy and needs to consider. Some prefer that social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. are their place to get away from survivor support, while others of us very actively share. This option is left up to you and your preferences. However, it is much safer to survivor support discussions happen on Removing Chains site and not on other social networks. Many of these networks, including Facebook make a point of claiming that all content shared on their sites ultimately belongs to them and not you.
In addition we care about your personal needs. We don't want any of our helpers becoming overburdened or burned out. Please also share that with us as well so we can best support you in your efforts as part of our front line team.
#16 TURN IN REPORTS OF YOUR SESSIONS - Reports of your sessions with those we support on Removing Chains can be extremely helpful for everyone. They can help us keep track of a survivor's progress and whether they are heading in a good or a bad direction. The reports also allow you an opportunity to ask specific questions about how to handle something with them, as well as let us see your growth and progress as one of our online helpers.
We are working on a system to enable this to be very easy. The system will change as we can get newer technology to a good reporting system. As changes in session reporting abilities happen you will be notified.
If you are reporting hours served for school service work so they can be tracked by us, here is a different link for reporting them. Please keep track of starting and ending time. Then click this link.