I can still remember holding my breath as I picked up the phone at the hardest job I’ve ever had. Working the midnight weekend shift at a domestic violence shelter was harrowing. A phone call could be one of many things: a heads-up call from police, meaning that a new woman or family was on the way; a hotline call from a survivor needing solace or referrals; or a call from the hospital, seeking an advocate to come help a rape or domestic assault victim.
However, the call could also be from a shelter resident’s abuser, angrily seeking her location. Or charmingly looking for information about her. Or calling from the front yard of our complex at 4 a.m. to see which room in the sprawling, converted suburban ranch was the office, and therefore the target of his rifle.
Working in a domestic violence and rape crisis program was definitely the hardest job I’ve had. But it was also one of the most rewarding, because I knew, each and every night, that I was making a difference in the lives of women and children. I knew I was learning deep lessons about the complex realities of domestic violence, rape crisis, child abuse, dis-empowerment, abuse, poverty, addiction, and, perhaps most importantly, about both the strength and fragility of hope. I learned a bit about how to bear witness, meet people where they are, and make a change. I certainly gained more than I gave, tenfold.
Sometimes I miss how fast and furious those lessons came at me, but I know there are many ways to continually learn about domestic violence, and be an agent of change in reducing its damages and prevalence. Here are a few ways you can commit to helping fight domestic violence:
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Resources about domestic violence and how to find a local domestic violence program can be found on ViolenceUnSilenced.com.
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