October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

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Hello lovelies! Happy October! The leaves look beautiful around here in Madison, and the air is crisp. This time of year makes me feel so alive and optimistic. I hope it is beautiful wherever you are, too. I just completed training to be a Domestic Violence Advocate for a local organization here, and I wanted to take a moment to share with you a few things. 

The training was great, but I had known quite a bit going into it since my whole graduate research was on domestic violence. Back then, I co-authored a yet-to-be-released book on the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. So, I studied DV quite a bit. Without going into too much detail, I am a survivor of sexual and intimate partner violence, and my mother is as well (not at the hands of my father, I should say), so this issue is near and dear to my heart.

Something I really enjoyed learning more about during my training was Trauma-Informed Care, or TIC. This type of care reminded me of the "person-first" language we use when working with individuals who have disabilities. The is the equation for TIC that we were told: effective empowerment advocacy + knowledge of trauma = Trauma-Informed Care. The five elements of TIC include: 1) Provide survivors with info about the traumatic effects of abuse, 2) Provide tailored serviced based on survivors' experiences and needs, 3) Create opportunities for survivors to discuss their responses, 4) Provide resources and referrals to survivors, and 5) Reflect on our own practices as advocates. This is all very important when advocating for those affected by domestic violence, or any other type of trauma.

If you want to be a good advocate to those experiencing trauma, please listen to and validate a survivor's story. Never question it. Too often, women are confronted with questions like, "Why did you stay?", or "What's wrong with you?" These are NEVER good questions to ask. Instead, ask them, "What is it you need right now?" or "How can I best support you?"

If you are a victim/survivor, know that it isn't your fault. Asking for help takes a lot of courage. If you feel unsafe, if you feel traumatized, if you need to talk to someone, find the number for your local crisis line. Find out your options; you have many. You are deserving of love, respect, and safety.

That's all for now. I'm going to try to post something DV-related each day of the month--a resource or news article. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions!