Our mission is to support people impacted by domestic violence. Part of that includes peer counseling, support groups, and therapy. This is the part that I lead — the clinical elements of domestic violence support and services.
We’re unique in that we’re a non-residential program. Because we’re not a shelter, we have a lot of flexibility to support people in many different phases of their healing. Some people are still with their partners, some have long-since-left, and everything in between. This gives us a lot more options — for example, when people are ready to go to shelter, they have to be at a specific point and prepared to leave behind a lot of aspects of their life. Here, they don’t need to be. This opens us up to a lot more people who are willing to explore other options. As an agency we have a peer philosophy; it’s inviting and open for people so that they don’t feel like they need to fit into any certain category.
I show up to work every day because this is my calling. I feel that I need to support survivors. I’ve been here for over a decade and have been working in the field for a lot longer, so this is part of my evolution and it feels really good to be in a space that’s open and innovative and that I’m able to be with people wherever they are.
What we hear a lot — and as a therapist I’m privy to many different stories and people — is that there’s a phenomenon out there where people who are seeking services feel judged and criticized or pushed by someone else’s agenda. We hear appreciation and relief from our clients that they don’t feel that here. We want to be that exception for them. Many times, people will talk about how their family and friends are pushing them to leave or make another choice, and then they come here and are in a place where they feel unjudged and honored as human beings.
I would say to others that when it comes to violence — not all of it physical — the its seeds start early and at home.
There’s a lot of overlap between DV other movements. In addition to domestic violence survivors, we connect with survivors of human trafficking, and also see that DV is strongly mirrored in community and it spreads out from there. As a result, we prioritize staff time to address broader community issues. Think about the basis of DV — it’s an overall pattern of power and control; you can see that same dynamic play out in all kinds of other community systems.
To get people out of the cycle, or end the cycle, of violence — it requires holding the abuse of power accountable. I would say to others that when it comes to violence — not all of it physical — the its seeds start early and at home. We’re also learning that you can’t work on DV in a vacuum, you have to consider systems and community and the ways in which it ripples out. Other systems could also look outwards and take this same approach.
To get to the end of domestic violence in an ideal world, I think it will take early mentoring and messages about what is acceptable and not. It will take resources for healthier families and homes. It will take schools getting on board – not just to support survivors, but also children who are affected — as well as accountability for the people who abuse power and control. I think it will take all of that and a lot more. How we use our language also affects and gives permission/encourages violence. It would take the media in a huge part to make some big changes because they perpetuate stereotypes and gender roles that objectify certain people and shame others.