I’m not going to write much right now because I’m still processing, but just had a few thoughts I didn’t want to lose.

Today has been hands down the hardest day since I started here.  Yesterday (Sunday) a client that has been working with my center tried to commit suicide.  She came extremely close to the point that she barely had a pulse when they found her. While this in itself is unsettling and hard, she came into the office today for help and I was the advocate there at the time.  I felt so overwhelmed and like I didn’t know how to handle it, but luckily I was able to pull in my coworker and allow her to take over.  From observing her in this difficult situation I want to remember to:

-Be honest, if something makes me uncomfortable/feeling like I am hiding something from a client, it’s best to let them know and be honest.
-BREATHE! Relax. if I am tense and doubting what I’m saying it’s only going to worry the client — have confidence in what I’m saying and know that I can do it.
-Remember my role and what I’m there for. Don’t try and be anything but that.
-Don’t shy away from the hard questions/topics. If there’s a concern or possible concern, bring it up and let them decide if they want to talk about it.

Today is a reminder that I am still learning and I don’t feel like I am the best advocate I can be.

Today has been very slow, but I am completely okay with it because the rest of the week has been very hectic.  This post is going to include a little more of my personal life than I usually share, but I will try to keep it focused on work. This is what my week looked like (and the reason I am 100% okay with a slow day)

Monday (which also happened to be my birthday):
-slow day until I was on my lunch break and halfway through my sandwich a Direct Service (someone who needs to talk) came in.  I was working with them from about 1:15 and then at 2:30 they decided they wanted to go to court for a protective order, so I went with them to that, but unfortunately the courts are understaffed and there wasn’t a judge there that day so they had to fax the petition to another court and wait to hear back.  The courts close at 4:00, and it was 4:30-4:45 before we heard back that the protective order was granted.  I then had to return to campus, make copies of the paperwork, do a mini-strategizing session for the hearing (this Wednesday the 14th) and then leave a message for my supervisor because I wasn’t going to be in the next morning. I usually leave the office at 4:30pm but didn’t get in my car and head home until approximately 5:45pm.

Tuesday:
-I went to court with a client I have been working with since the beginning of October.  During a domestic violence incident, the police arrested the victim and this was the arraignment for those charges.  I arrived in court at 7:40am and met with the client to discuss what was going to happen, what they were nervous about, ways to calm down and not get too anxious etc.  At 8:00 we went into the court room where their lawyer was supposed to meet them as court went in-session at 8:00.  The lawyer didn’t arrive until 8:20am and caused my client to be the last person to speak with the state prosecutor, thus the last person to be arraigned.  (For those unfamiliar, arraignments are like a cattle-call where they have many people come in for one session and each has to go up individually and say whether they plead guilty or not guilty and then either find out what fine/consequence they have or set a trial date). In the middle of all of this, the abuser showed up to receive more property that was left at the apartment.  We had not known that they were going to be there, which was unsettling and I worked with the client to process that.  All in all, I left court at 10:45am, but luckily my supervisor gave me the afternoon off since I had been in late the day before and gone in early that morning.  Also, it was my significant other’s birthday and got to spend time together. That night we had several friends over to the apartment to celebrate our birthdays, which ended in my significant other getting very intoxicated and me only getting 3-4 hours of sleep.

Wednesday:
-Because our crisis center is on a college campus, we rely (like many/all other centers) for volunteers to staff our crisis line and serve as advocates.  In order to find volunteers, my center offers a credited course open to students.  They are required to participate in a 30+ hours training (per state coalition requirements) during class-time as well as document their reactions/feelings/thoughts to the material.  The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays, with a different topic each time.  This day the topic was the conduct and mediation process on campus (i.e. how students who are found guilty of violating the student code of conduct can be charged/banned from campus) and I was in charge as my supervisor was unavailable.  Towards the end of the class, I received a text from the office saying we were paged by the hospital saying there was a survivor there for a sexual assault exam and that I should head over there (it is protocol for the hospitals to page the local crisis center before meeting with the survivor).  I got to the hospital at approximately 11:15/11:30 and checked in with the nurse who does the exam.  She said the survivor knew I was there, had spoken with our office over the weekend and was unsure if they wanted contact with me today.  This is usually what happens and I didn’t think anything of it and said I would be in the waiting room if they should want to speak with me.  After 2 hours, a staff member came and told me that the survivor did not want to have contact with me, but that I could pass on information.  For every hospital/police call we take, we bring a little envelope of information on our services/resources etc.  I came back from that and did some general work in the office for the rest of the day. Of the whole day, I would say I was in the office for about 3-4 hours (instead of the usual 8-9).

Thursday:
-Each month we host a “volunteer appreciate day” during which time there are refreshments and craft activities for self-care and all students who work with our office are invited.  This month being Thanksgiving, we did turkey themed crafts.  I managed to burn myself with a hot glue gun so badly that I have a blister. Moral of the story: I am not allowed to use hot glue guns.  While the day was not filled with direct service, it was a busy day with lots of people in and out of the office.

Today:
-So far I have not really done anything except replenishing our supplies for tabling (each week we have an information table in the university center to spread the word about our office and educate the students) and go to lunch with a friend.

Next week is a short week for me, which I will gladly take. Monday the office is closed in observation of Veteran’s day, and Friday I have a meeting off-site all day. 

Happy Weekend!