WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A HELPLINE ADVOCATE
Working for the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline has been a very rewarding, inspiring, and eye-opening opportunity for me. I can honestly say that I was blind to how prevalent domestic violence really is.
The training to become a Helpline Advocate was intensive and prepared me for the day we started taking calls. Something that I hold onto from my training is that being an advocate doesn’t stop at the end of my work day. It is my job to speak up. One of our trainers talked about jokes that are told regarding victims and how easy it is to just let those around you make those jokes. I think that people use humor to make subjects such as domestic violence less intense. She challenged us to speak up and say something when those jokes are made. By me saying something to them, they have to face the reality that this does exist. If they understand, they will do their part to help stop it.
The hardest part of being a Helpline Advocate is not knowing the outcome of a caller’s situation. People often call us in extreme crisis, but we don’t know what happens after we connect them with their local advocates. I find comfort knowing that I was what they needed in that moment and that I did my part; that my piece of the puzzle is in place.
I find it so rewarding when a victim has that “aha moment”. Those moments can be scary and emotional for them, but they’re also often empowering. These “aha moments” happen most often when reviewing the power and control wheel and the victim realizes that they are a victim. Being able to help a caller change from defeated to empowered is so rewarding.
Being able to be a piece of their puzzle and share in their “aha moments” is what makes me excited about coming to work every day.
-- Teresa, Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline Advocate