Thursday, October 30, 2014

Advocate

So, I haven't been blogging at all in the past month. We've been busy. I'll try to catch you up with all the adventures, but right now, I just want to share one thing that has taken a great deal of my time for the past 6 weeks.

I decided to become an advocate for the Family Crisis Center in Rexburg.

Let me tell you a little about them. They have a thrift store, a soup kitchen, support groups, and resources for members of our community in need or having emergencies. It is a non profit organization that has been around a bit over a decade. But, the big thing they do is support and advocate for victims of domestic violence, rape, and other assault or abuse. They have the advocates who respond to call outs from law enforcement or local hospitals at any hour. The advocates begin the process of supporting a victim and then FCC sees it through, whatever the outcome. They go to court, help find financial resources, devise safety plans for those trying to leave an abuser... whatever a victim needs, FCC tries to help.

So, you can see my role there as an advocate. Now, I'm still in training. I'll be training for a few more months, then, if I pass my exam, I'll get a shiny name badge and I'll carry the after hours phone occasionally. I've already been on call and I've responded to a situation. It isn't something I can talk about (and I don't want to violate the privacy of the people involved), but it was an honor to be a part of helping someone.

Some of you may wonder why I have decided to do this. Well, here is the condensed version. Some time ago, (maybe a year or so ago), Sam asked me if I would consider being an advocate. He has worked with this group closely his entire career and he really believe in the power of what they do. He mentioned that we don't have any advocates living here in Jefferson County and asked me to consider being a part of serving people who desperately need help.

I thought about it for a long time. It was a lot to take on. There is a lot of yucky and scary stuff out there and doing this would be swimming out into the middle of an ocean of the worst of it. I wasn't quite sure I was capable of such a role. Sam has told me a lot about what he sees and I didn't know if I was prepared to see it too.

But, I decided this year that I was ready. So, I applied and I was accepted into this year's training class. This isn't a job, this is a volunteer position. But, I have spent some years doing service in other ways and I wanted a more meaningful (to me) way to serve. Something I knew was a need and that I felt strongly about. This is it.

It has been a lot to take in. Some nights I come home and I am just so very sad. Other nights I am full of hope. Lots of ups and downs. No matter what, I know this is important work to do, and, as Sam has said to me many times, "if not me (or you), then who?"

Now, my original intentions were to keep this quiet and not tell others what I was doing. I just didn't know why I felt that way, but I did. I think I was concerned with safety. But, this month has been interesting. It is Domestic Violence Awareness month and I have posted articles on facebook about dv and sexual assault as I have been researching and to offer others an opportunity to learn more. The response has been powerful.

Do you know the 7 types of abuse? (It is more than just hitting: Physical, Sexual, Emotional, Financial, Neglect, Discriminatory, and Institutional) Did you know that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in some form in her lifetime? I hear that frequently now, but I can tell you, it is true. My dear friends, most without knowing what I have been doing all these weeks, have been telling me about the dv in their lives, what they escaped, what they are living with, what they want to stop. I've been able to help a few people in tiny ways with these things, but mostly I have been listening and hurting for so many who are not protected by our society. It is wrong. We are doing something wrong. It needs to change.

Last night at training, our instructor suggested that it was important to let people around us know what we are doing in order to raise awareness. Perhaps by knowing we are a part of this, people will ask us questions or even feel brave enough to ask for help.

So, that is what I'm doing today.

Hey, I'm an advocate (in training). If you need it, there is help for you. Confidential help. You aren't alone and you aren't crazy. I'm here and so are many others. If you aren't in a situation like this, but know someone who is, or you just don't ever want to be in a situation like that, I'm here too. I can help you set up classes to protect yourself and others. Whatever it is, I can help.

For those of you who maybe want to help too, let me know. There is room for everyone.

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