This past week, as a relatively new staff member at A Woman’s Place (AWP), I attended five full days of Direct Service Training. This is 40 hours of classwork required by law for those who work with victims of domestic violence. I was not looking forward to this “back to school” experience, as I was dreading that it would be primarily a lot of government-mandated platitudes and red tape.
I’m pleased to say that I could not have been more wrong!
Along with several other staff members and over a dozen volunteers, I was provided an in-depth and at times heartbreaking view of the problem of domestic violence. More importantly, we received practical tools for interacting effectively with clients and also participated in various exercises to help us understand the many aspects of domestic violence and empathize with the situations in which our clients find themselves. I’d like to share just one of those exercises.
Think of the person in your life that is closest to you. This might or might not be someone with whom you have an intimate relationship. The person could be your mother, father, sister, best friend… any human being that is closest to you.
Imagine that this person has just gone through an extremely difficult time: they lost their job, they wrecked their car, they face a life threatening disease, their dog just died, etc. The person walks into the house. Because you’ve had a lousy day, you say to them, “You’re certainly in a bad mood.”
They grab you and push you hard against the wall, saying, “Leave me alone!” Then the person is horrified at what they did, they burst out crying and beg for your forgiveness. Would you walk out the door and have nothing to do with that person ever again?
I couldn’t imagine doing that. I bet you can’t, either.
People don’t just give up on a relationship because the person “screws up” once or even several times. When we love someone we’re not willing to give up on the relationship easily — and the longer the time in the relationship or depending upon what kinds of things we’ve shared, the harder it may be to even consider walking away.
That was just one of many eye-opening experiences I was pleasantly surprised by this past week. Another was developing a deeper appreciation for the amazing thoughtfulness, caring, and dedication of both my fellow AWP staff members and the volunteers who join us in this work. Together, we strive for a community where all are safe in their relationships and can flourish. Together, with your support, we can and do make a difference.