Being a rape crisis advocate is not a glamorous, celebrated, or in some cases, even respected profession. It’s not something anyone chooses to do because they want to be wealthy or well-known. Advocates are rarely ever celebrated for their hard work or compassion, and rarely is the burden of injustice and countless stories of trauma they carry ever fully acknowledged.
On Valentine’s Day, we think it’s the perfect time to offer a glimpse into the world of advocates and to celebrate the important and amazing work they do. OAESV recently surveyed Ohio’s rape crisis advocates, both paid staff and volunteers, about their needs and experiences. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say, in their own words:
What is the best/most rewarding aspect of your job?
“Knowing someone has been supported through something that is extremely traumatizing. Sometimes an advocate might be the only support a survivor has.”
“Knowing that I made a difference in helping somebody through a tough time in their lives and doing as much as I can to make it as manageable as possible.”
“Knowing I am there for someone who might otherwise have no one in their life to listen and believe them.”
“Seeing clients move from surviving to thriving and supporting the team members who provide the direct support facilitating that change.”
“Watching survivors make progress in their lives, realizing they are in fact survivors, watch their path to hearing, witness them become empowered and encourage others to do the same.”
“Being trusted in some of the most vulnerable moments in people’s lives.”
“Holding space for survivors and centering autonomy and self-care. It’s also very rewarding to be connected to a community of passionate and empathetic leaders.”
What do you struggle with the most in your position?
“Sometimes it’s hard to know if you are saying the right thing or not, and sometimes there are things that you can’t do for the victim that you know they really want from you.”
“The fear that I cannot be “enough” for my client, or that they are experiencing other problems which are out of my role.”
“When survivors are treated poorly by our partners in the community and when they don’t feel as if they received justice for what happened to them.”
“The mental/emotional toll it can take on you. Also you never really get a break when you are on call even after your work day ends.”
“Allowing my knowledge and opinions about violence to make everyday interactions and activities somewhat negative/ hard to keep separate.”
“Working with professionals and systems that refuse to accommodate the needs of survivors of sexual violence or do an inadequate job of meeting the needs of survivors of sexual violence and do not strive to do better.”
If you were asked to give one piece of advice to someone who is considering a career in victim services, what would it be?
“Be ready for challenging work but it does come with rewards when you know you’ve made a difference.”
“Be flexible and open to new opportunity. Know that any effort you are making is appreciated and that there is always work to be done.”
“Do your best every day and you will never doubt if you could have done more.”
“It can be highly rewarding but also highly draining and it is important to celebrate and find hope in the small victories.”
“You will lose pieces of your heart to very victim served but you’ll gain so much more from watching these victims move towards being survivors.”
“Always remember why you do what you do, never get lost in it.”
“It is more than worth it, and most days you will feel like you’re making a difference; which you are. But never forget to take care of yourself. You are your most important client.”
“Be clear that you can’t save the world, but you can have a definite, positive impact on your section of it.”
“Never forget why you started. Through everything, remember that the smallest interaction can ripple to the biggest effect!”
“Do it because your heart is in this work, not because you are looking for a job.”
“Give to yourself with the same level of love/empathy/care you provide survivors with.”
From all of us at OAESV, thank you advocates. You are loved.