Life of an Advocate

I wake up. I try to come to grips with the fact this today will be busy, but I will make it through – I have a 100% statistic so far in my life of getting through the day.

I slept like garbage last night, I’m exhausted and I no longer own a coffee pot. I also don’t have the money to buy coffee or the time to make an extra stop on my way to the courthouse.

I throw myself together in 5 minutes and hope that I look presentable enough for court. (Hey, I showered and brushed my teeth, I’m wearing clean and professional clothes, so that’s great, right?)

I arrive at the courthouse and drive around for 10 minutes before finding a space 2 blocks away.

I run to the courthouse so as to avoid being late and accompany my client. Things go smoothly.

Finish my first appointment at late 10am and my next one starts at 10am… across town. I’m definitely going to be late.

Run to my car and try to obey the speed limits as I’m driving, but it’s so tempting. I think to myself “Getting a ticket will make you later and broke.”

Client doesn’t show after all that rushing. Oh well, on to the next. I shake it off.

I return to the office and it’s an absolute mess from yesterday and all the work I did. I clear enough space to start working.

My phone is ringing off the hook and I have 8 phone calls to return already.

I have 3 clients with financial needs waiting for an answer and my director has still not responded.

I have 12 emails in my inbox and most of them require a response today.

I shove a snack into my face as I try to call back a client, no answer. I leave a message. I pray to God my garbled message is understandable. I make a mental note not to eat when I’m calling a client, but who knows when I will be able to get lunch?!

I have a client at the front desk wanting to speak to me and an appointment in 5 minutes.

I’m stressed out to the max and my stomach is growling so much I’m worried someone would be able to hear it through the phone.

I needed to pee at 9 am and still haven’t gone, it’s now 1pm… my bladder may explode.

I’m sitting in a meeting when I get an email from the accounting department about a client financial item. They are issuing checks today… right this minute…and if I don’t get my request in now it won’t get paid for another 3 days.

I leave the meeting and run to my desk and then downstairs to accounting. I run back up to the meeting and try to regain focus.

I shove some food in my face between phone calls. My phone continues to ring off the hook as I’m on the phone and trying to eat.

I have an appointment in another hour. I’m sure she has a lot which needs to be addressed and I know my workload will get worse before it gets better.

I suddenly wonder what it would be like to work in the corporate world again. It would be so nice to have predictable hours, predictable needs and predictable workloads. I can picture my life as boring and average. I wouldn’t be helping people in need, but my skills would still be in high demand. My day would be filled with , human resource functions such as staff trainings, creating documents, running reports, employee files, background checks and interviews.

I’m bored at the simple thought.

Would my life be easier doing many other jobs? Of course it would! But I wouldn’t ever want them. As stressful as my life is, it an be very rewarding. As hectic as it can be, it can be filled with client victories and progress towards risk reduction. As ever-changing as it is, it can sometimes be boring and mundane still. As much as I may travel and it annoys me to “waste my time” on the road, it’s not wasted because it’s bringing vital services to clients who need it. I’m making outreach in rural areas which need me. I’m assisting some of the most vulnerable people on this planet with vital services. Is it sometimes challenging? Absolutely. Is it sometimes very sad and hard to listen to the stores I’m told? Hell yes. There are days where I wonder how someone could hurt another human being like that. But as hard as it is, it’s important to listen to victims. It’s crucial to their story and it’s a huge first step to getting their needs met.

Being an advocate can be hard as fuck.

But I wouldn’t want anything else right now.

Baby Birds Leave the Nest Eventually

I’m a domestic violence victim advocate. We don’t always have good days. Some days feel like failures. Some days are hard.

I wanted to write today about one of the most amazing and beautiful days I’ve had in a long time. I’ve been working with someone for a while now, and she’s had struggles, triumphs and everything in between. I’ve been with her every step of the way. I’ve celebrated with her, I’ve tried to help her plan when things didn’t go as planned. I’ve watched as her children grew. I’ve felt her pain and her joy. I’ve calmed her fears and I’ve watched as she slowly learned that she needed to do something to protect herself and her children.

Today was the day she metaphorically left the nest and moved on from my services. We met at a gas station to say goodbye. She thanked me for all I had done. I wished her well. We cried in that gas station parking lot. We hugged one another and we cried for all the times we’d been there together. I didn’t care that she’d been busy living her life and hadn’t showered in 2 days. I didn’t care what other people thought. This woman is one of the strongest women I have met to date, and I wanted nothing more than to wish her well, comfort her one last time and send her on her way; to allow her to leave the nest by giving her the last gentle push she needed to keep moving forward on her journey.

It was heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time. This woman has seen so much more evil in this world than some can even imagine and yet here she was, still here. Still moving forward and still with a positive attitude. It was time. She was ready to move on to the next chapter in her life. And I know she’s going to do great things with her life.

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Women like this are why I love what I do so much. I can’t save everyone. I know I can’t. I can’t put all the injured, vulnerable and unsafe victims of domestic violence in my pocket to protect them. But I can empower them to do what they need to do. I can connect them to what they need. I can help them reflect on how strong they are. I can show them all the progress they have made and help them acknowledge that. I can be with them in their good times and their hard times when no one else is. I can be someone to talk to when all their friends have gone away because of their partner or former partner. I can make them laugh when they need a smile. I can believe them when they share their story, and there is so much value in that. I can support them in their choices.

THIS IS WHAT I DO. I ADVOCATE.

I’m not a super hero. I’m not a savior. I’m not a miracle worker. But sometimes, just sometimes, I’m able to do something amazing. And that’s all that I can do.