By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
To wrap up our month-long series on Everyday Advocacy, today’s focus is on developing the skills and characteristics needed to become an advocate or continue to become more effective in this role over time. Survivors in our research have shared several valuable ideas about what it takes to do this sort of advocacy work well, and we wanted to share some of those insights with you today.
Advocacy means different things to different people, so one of the first steps is to think about what that role may look like for you. Consider the following questions:
Some people want to do advocacy work, but they don’t know how to go about it. For example, one participant in our research said, “I do not see myself as an advocate but I think I could be and I would be interested in how to become one.” Another said, “I don’t know if I have the skills.” If that sounds like you, consider if you might begin by joining efforts with others, such as your local domestic violence agency or another advocacy group you support in your community or online. Many organizations value the energy and skills that volunteers bring, and they may offer training and volunteer opportunities to help you develop your skills and confidence so that you could take on other types of advocacy effortsin the future.
Survivors in our research shared some of the knowledge and skills they thought were helpful to them in their own advocacy efforts, and the following quotes provide examples of these:
It also can be helpful to have realistic expectations about how advocacy efforts may be received. For example, one participant had this to say about her advocacy work:
Becoming an advocate may be a life-long process, and there will likely be times when you feel more or less motivated to engage in advocacy work. Along with the excitement and satisfaction that can come with progress, advocacy work can be wrought with frustration, stress, and even anger. Keeping a long-range perspective and staying focused on the importance of the end goal to end abuse can help buffer you against the frustrations that may arise.
One participant in our research said the following about advocacy: “I believe that I was destined to do this work.” Advocacy efforts can be a really meaningful way for people to take negative experiences and emotions and channel them to create positive changes in the world around them.
Whether big or small, everyday advocacy efforts will remain needed until intimate partner violence and the stigma that surrounds it no longer exist.