Little is known about the psychological and physiological impacts of moral injury within organizational contexts such as Internet Child Abuse Teams (hereafter abbreviated to ICAT), who are repeatedly exposed to trauma through viewing and grading graphic images of children being sexually abused. The aims of the current research were to explore the key features of, and contributing factors to, moral injury and trauma as experienced by Internet Child Abuse Teams, how these manifested and how these factors can be mitigated. Six participants were recruited from ICATs located at two police constabularies. Data were gathered using semi-structured interviews and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Findings indicated that the moral injury experienced by the participants was predominantly attributable to repeated exposure to traumatising images, with too little decompression time. Dysfunctional coping mechanisms, most commonly substance misuse, cognitive avoidance of distressing thoughts and emotional numbing, amplified the psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety. For many ICAT investigators, such tactics were attempts to manage the moral violations arising from their work and experienced as moral injury. These findings will be used to inform psychological review systems and interventions within policing.
- Moral injury
- Internet Child Abuse Teams
- Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis
- Psychological review