We know that advocacy saves lives.
We also know that domestic violence programs cannot keep up with the demand for services.
And we know that people turn to family and friends long before they seek help from professionals.
As Traci said earlier, we’re all counting on YOU.
If that makes you nervous – never fear. I just finished teaching at our 3-day Advocacy for Rookies training. It was heartening to learn that many of the attendees have no intention of getting a job as an advocate. They came to the training because they know that anyone can be a critical, life-saving source of support. Here’s how:
1. LISTEN. Really listen. What is she saying she needs? What does she think will help? (Note: Hear what she is really saying, not what you think she should be saying. For many people, the goal is to end the abuse, not necessarily to end the relationship.)
2. LEARN. Do a little research on her behalf. Call your local domestic violence program and find out what they offer. And there’s tons of great info online. You can read up on legal and economic options. Get the scoop on housing and employment issues. See what the laws and policy manuals say.
3. LOOK AHEAD. Talk with her about long-term plans for coping with the abuse. Help her think through the pros and cons of different options and anticipate how the abuser might react. That’s called safety planning.
4. LEVERAGE. Give her whatever help you can: a ride somewhere, free babysitting, some cash. And use your influence to let the abuser know that controlling and violent behavior is unacceptable.
5. LOVE. Have compassion. See the victim’s (and abuser’s) full humanness. Be patient and humble – this stuff is complicated. We are all responsible for each other. Love is the antidote.