I had the privilege, over the past few weeks, of attending the 40 Hour Domestic Violence Training that was put on by Casa de la Familia in Los Angeles. You see, this training is required by the state of California for anyone who wishes to work directly with victims of domestic violence, and certifies the individual who has taken the training as a state certified Domestic Violence Counselor and Advocate (mandated by Evidence Code 1037.0[a]).
The training was long, 8 hours a day for two entire weekends in a row, and at times it, was psychologically taxing for those of us in the class, which was filled with an eclectic bunch of educators, therapists, non-profit workers (like myself) and students. There were many abuse survivors in our midst, and it was overwhelming to consider the life-changing nature of abuse, not just on the relationships of those involved but on their lives’ paths – literally transforming, in this case, the careers and callings of multitudes of survivors. This, to me, is extraordinary and inspiring – to be amongst a group of people who experienced devastation, and transformed, Phoenix-like, into powerful advocates for change.
So, for 8 hours a day, two weekends in a row, we all gathered to discuss and learn about violence, to hear firsthand its physical and psychological effects on victims’ minds and bodies. We spoke with survivors of severe abuse, along with multiple doctors, social workers, detectives and therapists. We were trained to work closely with victims and alongside police, in a way that offers compassionate support and strength. We learned tactics to keep ourselves safe, as well, should perpetrators of abuse lash out against us, the people who are working to empower their victims.
These are heavy topics to tackle for anyone these days; in a world that grows increasingly violent and contentious, it’s our job at Serving California to go into the trenches and deal with some uncomfortable things. We work directly with inmates to effect change and redeem them from their mistakes, and we offer peer based support to veterans who are struggling to recover from combat trauma and posttraumatic stress. Finally, we support programming that helps to restore women who are victims of abuse and addiction.
More than a career, this is my calling, and this is why I opted to become certified to do work as a domestic violence advocate and counselor. It’s a blessing to be a part of a community that is striving ceaselessly toward a better future, and I’m grateful to able to better serve the community in which I work.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE.