The world of Title IX is full of policies, procedures, and (ever changing) regulations. I know sometimes it can feel like we are just doing our best to hold all the layers up at once while we try to manage the compliance components of our work. Who knew we needed to learn to juggle so quickly? On top of that, Title IX is not just the work of compliance; it is the work of people. Specifically, it is the work of people who may be hurting, confused, shocked, or experiencing varying other levels of mental health and traumatic reactions to their experiences with the Title IX incident and/or the Title IX process. So, how do we balance the work of compliance and the work of people?
First, we must acknowledge that accomplishing one does not jeopardize the other. We can be excellent in the work of compliance and excellent in the work of caring for people at the same time. Small decisions can be both people- and compliance-focused, like the time of day when you send an email, the efforts made to deliver certain updates in person when possible, or the space for questions at the end of a meeting. Choose small things when you can to accomplish both.
Second, we do not have to be trained mental health professionals to be trauma-informed in our Title IX work. Certain emotional, cognitive, and even physical reactions in the room can be directly related to trauma. Examples of trauma reactions could include:
- Difficulty concentrating or making a decision
- Anger, sadness, numbness
- Health concerns such as headaches or digestive problems
- Sense of isolation (that no one understands)
- Anxiety, fear
Filter the report through the lens of the person in front of you. Their reactions are telling you something you need to know. When we see the person and not just the report, we have a better chance of picking up on that message. Trust your gut and your instincts – person to person.
Lastly, treat yourself like a person too. You have a lot on your plate. You are trying to take care of people, policies, compliance AND your own lives outside of all that. It will be easier to achieve balance in your work when you build those habits for yourself in other areas of your life. I know, self-care is hard to come by. Think quality over quantity. What could you do for 5 minutes today that would restore something you are needing in your life? Once you think of it, actually do it!
This is hard work. I, for one, am thankful that we are all in this together. Take care of yourself today – you deserve it!
Blog by ICS’ newest team member, Case Manager and Consultant Brittany Gates. Before joining ICS, Brittany was most recently the Title IX Coordinator at a small private university for the past three years and brings to ICS a wealth of on-the-ground knowledge from serving in this role.