What in the world is an Advocate?
The name sounded interesting when I saw it on the job listing site, but I had no idea what it meant. To advocate is to….fight for? Speak on behalf of? Defend? Support?
It turns out all were true.
Victim advocates do so much, but because what we do is confidential, most of it goes unnoticed. We walk survivors through the most devastating crises of their lives. We fight for the rights of those who have had their dignity, health, or peace of mind stolen. We explain what to expect, provide resources, and help safety plan. While broken hearts pour out their misery, we listen.
Advocates validate, encourage, and support you as you fight to regain control over your life. We point out resources and providers that fill those crucial needs in your life. We remind you that you are not alone.
What advice we do provide is always in line with what you want. You are the expert on your own life. Because of that, we don’t ask you to share more than you’re comfortable with. We’ll never try to push you into a certain decision. You are in the driver's seat at all times.
- Want to leave an abusive partner? We help you plan and prepare.
- Want to stay where you are? We give you strategies to best care for yourself in the situation.
- Have no idea where to begin rebuilding your life? We have your back.
- If you want to talk, we’re all ears.
As an advocate, I listen, am inspired daily, and learn more than I ever dreamed I would. I hear stories that would make you cringe or weep or vomit. Things that should never happen to kids or young women (or anyone). Horrors I pray that no one else ever has to experience.
BUT I also hear triumphs that would put Olympians to shame. Strength and bravery that I could never imagine possessing. Resilience that pulls survivors out of the battle and through the daily demands of life.
It is a GREAT privilege to hear the stories of others. There is tremendous power in sharing our deepest pains with someone who cares.
So again you ask: what in the world is an advocate?
Advocates are the ones you can share anything with. No matter how long it takes, we will listen. We can’t erase or change what happened. But giving voice to your story gives you ownership over it and allows you to move forward.
We are the supporters of those who are far stronger than they know. We are the voice of love and acceptance to the beaten down and marginalized. We encourage, defend, and hear the discouraged, abused, and ignored. And we won’t stop fighting for them until we live in a world where everyone is free from violence and fear.
Because that’s what advocacy is.