I’ve wanted to volunteer in a support role for a long time, specifically helping either children who have been removed from their homes or women needing support fleeing from violence. Having some personal experience with both situations, I thought I could really contribute something. I’ve applied for a number of entry level jobs in the sector dealing with children and teens, none panned out. In fact, not one call back. Pretty clear sign to me that’s not where I was intended to lend my support.
Recently I saw an ad on Craigslist for training for volunteers who work in outreach for battered women. I attended the information night about a month ago and this weekend was the first of the 3 weekends of training. The first day’s focus was mainly the history of violence against women, colonialism and oppression. I got some impressions the program was centered on man hating and had some racial prejudices. After day 2, I realize those judgments were in my head and the very fact I went there at all was racist in itself. My bad, but I’ll take responsibility for those feelings. White folks have done some seriously evil shit in the history of man-kind. As a white upon white upon white person (Scotch-Irish, Dutch and German), I would like to apologize on behalf of those of my forefathers who committed atrocities against other human beings.
So back to training. Day 2 covered all the lifetime of possible violence against women in all cultures spanning birth to old age. Touching on things I would not have really thought of before. Things that haven’t touched me, so to speak. Then on to the different levels of control and abuse in relationships. Interestingly enough I was quite familiar with this topic. Many of the other women volunteering are coming from a perspective of education, psychology, sociology or health care. Though they are all there to learn to support and educate victims it was interesting for me to be the only person in the room talking about what it’s like to be in the shoes of the victim. While there may be other ladies who have been the victim of a violet crime (statistics say at least four of the eleven of us ARE) I’m the only one speaking from that perspective.
I’m more excited than ever to be involved the way I’ve chosen to be. To learn more about the support role and not just from a place of being counselled after being a victim but from a place of the psychology of what the victim is going through AND what the abuser is going through. I firmly believe that the idea of violence against women – specifically in a relationship – is not just a victim/abuser situation. There is a deeper problem that needs to be addressed. There is not only a culture of “it’s not my business” that is improving but still needs WORK, but a bandaid approach to the whole issue. We counsel the victim but not the abuser. We teach the victim to recognize control and isolation and to protect themselves but what about the abuser? It’s like doctors focusing on treating symptoms of illness but not looking at the cause of illness.
It’s a subject very close to my heart, it’s an issue that has touched my life in various ways and I personally can’t wait to be in a position to provide support to a person (man or woman) in a situation of violence and help to be part of the solution instead of fuel on the fire.