Boundaries

Over the weekend, I lost a former co-worker of mine. He was murdered in his home.

We don’t yet know the full story, but it appears to be a familiar one; it seems he may have tried to help someone he knew as a client a little bit too much by pulling him into his personal life, and the client snapped and killed him for some reason. There have been no arrests to date.

This comes on the heels of another former coworker of mine who had a client show up on her doorstep earlier this year and ask for a sandwich. She complied, fixed him the fucking sandwich, and then he used the knife she used to stab her multiple times. Thankfully, she made a full recovery.

When I get back to work tomorrow, the first thing I am going to do is inform my staff that if they allow the professional to cross over into the personal, they will be fired. I know that they are caring people, but some of their clients or their clients’ associates may be dangerous people. In good conscience, I cannot allow them to think that the professional and personal lines can be crossed.

I’m really sad and grieving, but also fucking pissed off that my former co-worker took that kind of a risk. It’s just too tragic of a loss.

If you work in the social services, especially where they deal with the homeless, mentally ill, or victims of abuse keep your private life private. Get an unlisted phone number. Don’t give rides to your clients unless it is on officially sanctioned business. Keep your private life to yourself.

If you want to give good care to your clients, you also have to take care of yourself. Mixing those two lives lessens your ability to assist your clients.

But most importantly, you must remain safe. Don’t take any stupid fucking risks that will remove you from the world and leave your friends, families, and co-workers behind suffering because of your loss.

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3 responses to “Boundaries

  1. I’m sorry for your friend.

  2. My sympathies. What a horrible thing for you and his other friends and family to have to go through. All because of trying to help someone. How tragic.

    I feel badly for my ignorance, but I never realized the extent to which those working in social services expose themselves to great harm.

  3. Thanks, Gonz, GB.

    It’s not that those working in social services expose themselves to great harm, it’s that they do if they make stupid choices and don’t respect professional boundaries.

    When I was working in my last position, I worked with many people who expressed homicidal ideation. but I never felt threatened because they were expressed in a professional setting and if I were to be attacked, help was easily available.

    But I would never, ever think of inviting any client into my home for any reason, partly for safety and partly to protect my sanity.

    It’s tragic when professionals don’t accept those boundaries and help people a little too much in a manner that is way too personal and then they potentially put themselves in great danger.

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