The Role of an Advocate
BY Vanessa E.., ALEXANDRA HOUSE Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) ADVOCATE
An advocate’s role isn’t hugs and coloring in adult coloring books like it gets joked about. We can do those things, yes, but we do so much more. An advocate’s role can be described as holding space around a person to allow them to be and feel what they need to. That can be sitting in a trauma space, letting them process through horrible, ugly things, validating the chaos of so many feelings and reactions while not correcting them, “shoulding” them, or “fixing” them. We are available to allow victims/survivors to be, even if that is uncomfortable. We want and work towards victims/survivors being as safe as possible, even if their lifestyles or choices aren’t what we would do. It’s not about us. It’s about creating a safe space, a place individuals can feel the power and control back over their lives and choices when that has been taken from them.
We connect people with all kinds of resources, we show up at court and walk through what can be a scary or strange process with them, sometimes we just listen. We don’t speak for people or do work for them; we try to create a space for people to get back to or do things for themselves for the first time. We collaborate with community organizations, law enforcement, and conduct outreach to create awareness for our cause, education, and safe relationships. In 2019 we answered more than 3,800 crisis calls on our 24-hour-emergency helpline and received 658 referrals from law enforcement through the Lethality Assessment Program. Advocates and law enforcement have different roles, but we do have crossover in many dealings with victims of crime. Being an Alexandra House advocate embedded in ACSO has increased quality service to our community and the populations we both serve.
The Sheriff’s Office by wearing purple on October 22, 2020 (#PurpleThursday) to show our support of Domestic Violence Awareness and to show our
support to our very own CID Family Member, Advocate Vanessa Ellingson.