Last week I and a co-worker attended a domestic violence advocacy training organized by Harrington House at the main office of the Yurok Tribe. Harrington House is an outreach of Rural Human Services here in Del Norte County (California), and is the local domestic violence shelter. The idea of the training is to recruit volunteers to work at Harrington House. It has also grown to be a time when local DV advocates (and judges and social workers) get together for what one presenter called “advocacy church” — when we talk about what we are doing, get inspired, and learn to be better advocates. A big THANK YOU to Jodi Hoone and Cassie Johnson for all the work they did to make this training possible!
We met for four days. Day One provided some of the basic information about domestic violence and what we do. I presented a module: Characteristics of Abusive Relationships and Addressing the Most Frequent DV Advocacy Question: “Why does she stay?” My basis for the last half of that is an article by Sarah M. Buel, called “Fifty Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a., Why Abuse Victims Stay.” (Click on the title for a link to the article — it is worth reading!) Days Two and Three we listened to presentations from other organizations about how they deal with domestic violence: law enforcement, the District Attorney, a judge, a probation officer, child welfare, rape crisis, a mediator, and a substance abuse counselor (and some of her clients). We asked questions, and in some cases were given honest answers. Sometimes we came away being happy to work with those organizations, and sometimes not. (“He sure likes the sound of his own voice, doesn’t he?”) Day Four several of the trainees shared what their programs do to help domestic violence survivors (and sometimes the batterers). Dawn Watkins (Director, Humboldt DV Services) talked about power, privilege, and oppression, and about how we work with clients as counselors.
Dawn finished the training by talking about self-care, which is something advocates often forget to do. She encouraged us to read Trauma Stewardship, by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky. Then she passed out pretty sheets of paper, and set us free to imagine who we might be and/or what we might do if we were in an “alternate universe,” where we could do anything we wanted and didn’t have to worry about making money. I enjoyed hearing about what some of the people would do. Several wanted to travel, one wanted to be a writer, another a stay-at-home mom, several wanted to raise their own food, and one woman wanted to do sled-dog racing. I wrote:
I am an artist. I create beautiful, practical things, such as clothing, gardens, music, and pottery. I write. My home is spacious, uncluttered, and calming. I barter for what I need with what I create.
Dawn suggested when things get hectic, we should remember the feeling we had when dreaming like that. And to incorporate at least one thing from that dream in our everyday lives, to nourish our souls.
How about you? Take a few minutes now, and imagine what you would do if money were not in the equation. Who are you? (And if you would like to share with us in the comments, that would be nice.)