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How to be a Domestic Violence Advocate

Oftentimes people think that they can only help with the issue of domestic violence if they know someone who’s going through it. While this is a great way to help someone, as a domestic violence advocate I want you to know that there are other things you can do… Things you can do before someone’s life is impacted by this trauma.

Get domestic violence advocacy training.

When you truly want to help uplift someone who’s experiencing domestic violence, you don’t need to undergo domestic violence advocacy training but it is important to come from an informed position. As a domestic abuse victim advocate I want to remind you that this is an extremely sensitive, and potentially dangerous topic. You should also know that you can make the situation worse if you aren’t careful and extremely thoughtful.

Change your mindset.

As a domestic abuse victim advocate I’d like to remind you that domestic violence happens everywhere. Unfortunately, many people are surprised when it happens in their neighborhood. If you take domestic violence advocacy training you’ll learn that domestic violence has nothing to do with economics or education. Domestic violence advocates have learned that It’s all about power and control. Therefore, as a domestic violence advocate I encourage you to say something when you see something.

Talk to a domestic violence advocate so you know what resources are available in your community.

Remember, you don’t have to “fix things” for someone who’s being abused. This is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as a domestic abuse victim advocate. What you need to be able to do is point the person to resources and organizations that can help them.

Listen as domestic violence advocates challenge widely-held perceptions about domestic violence.

It is our job as domestic abuse victim advocates to combat the misconceptions about domestic violence that persist (e.g. domestic violence only includes physical abuse, survivors can “just leave;” heterosexual, cisgender women are the only victims, domestic violence is a “private matter”). In domestic violence advocacy training you’ll learn about each of these myths and how to challenge them.

Help domestic abuse victim advocates question how the media portrays domestic violence.

Recently there have been numerous highly publicized cases of domestic violence. While this is an important way to raise awareness about the issue, it’s vital to do such reporting through a critical and trauma-informed lens. In domestic violence advocacy training you’ll learn that this is the only way in which to accurately portray a survivor’s reality.

Communicate that domestic violence is not a “private, family matter.”

As a domestic violence advocate I want people to understand that 1 in 3 women become a victim of domestic violence at some point in her life. Additionally, 3 women die each day because someone who claimed to love them has abused them. Since we’re all affected by domestic violence we must all be part of the solution.

Remember domestic violence affects all of us, but with action and education we can end it.

As I mentioned earlier, domestic violence is everywhere. It affects millions of people throughout the United States. It doesn’t matter what your race, age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or education are.

Donate your money to help with domestic violence advocacy training and work.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time to be a domestic abuse victim advocate. Many of these things can be done in just a few minutes. If you still feel like you don’t have enough time to make a difference, I encourage you to support the work of Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh by buying a wreath or simply making a monetary donation. Every bit makes a difference.

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