Advocacy training has been an astoundingly eye-opening experience for me. I don’t think that I really knew what to expect going in.
It’s definitely involved a lot of self-discovery. I guess in learning to deal with domestic violence I’ve been learning a lot about how I deal with people in everyday life, how I look at the world and even how I deal with myself.
I don’t think that I ever really realized how much a single person can influence another person’s life. If I did, I never realized that I could be that influential person.
It’s incredibly beautiful and moving and inspirational to me that just by being there, listening and providing information I can make a tangible difference in the life of someone who is in crisis.
I guess one of the biggest things that has stuck with me throughout the training sessions is how sometimes people may not know that there are options. I think educating them about abuse and empowering them to choose from the options that are available really opens doors.
But you can’t just tell people that they are in an abusive relationship because sometimes they don’t want to hear that. So we learn a lot about “meeting them where they are” – meaning not pushing them to leave if they don’t want to. The trainers like to say that people are the experts in their own situations, and I think that that is totally true.
To gauge where they are you have to really listen to them, and we learn and talk a lot about actively listening. I think it’s actually really challenging to just listen to people and not formulate opinions or try to think ahead to what you’re going to say next or try to compare their situation to yours. You have to really focus on what they are saying.
When you do this, and you don’t put yourself into the conversation, you can find a much deeper level of discussion. If you take a step back and let them talk through their feelings something amazing happens – they come to their own conclusions without you having offered any advice. It’s quite beautiful.
It’s actually really cool that I’m able to sit through the trainings – they are extremely informative and I’m learning a lot. I’m really looking forward to going through the rest of training and finding out even more.