Fundamentals of Advocacy Training
Kristy Beard; Ainsworth Program Director
Have you ever had questions about what kind of training employees go through when they are hired to work for Bright Horizons? The employees of Bright Horizons are provided an extensive amount of training to ensure that we are providing the best service to the survivors that we work with. Employees also participate in continuing education every year that includes Webinars, among other types of trainings to keep us up to date on technology and what is going on in Nebraska, the United States and the world today.
Fundamentals of Advocacy training is one of the main trainings that new hires are required to attend. This training is provided by the Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. Fundamentals of Advocacy consist of a 40 hour training that covers many different topics. I am going to give an overview of what this training is about and the important information that we are taught.
The training starts out by going over the History of the Anti-Violence Movements to familiarize advocates of how history has changed and evolved to society today regarding how and why domestic and sexual violence became illegal.
Confidentiality is a very big part of our job as advocates. As advocates we take confidentiality very seriously. Confidentiality helps protect the survivor and his or her children by not disclosing that we are working with a survivor or if a survivor is in shelter we will not disclose that location. As advocates the only way that we talk to others is if the survivor that we are working with has signed a waiver that gives advocates permission to talk to certain individuals. Something very important to remember that when a survivor works with Bright Horizons or any domestic violence program we are obligated to follow Federal Statutes.
Of course Fundamentals spends a lot of time on providing training in the following areas; Overview of Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence and the Impact on Children and Youth, Stalking and Stalking through Technology, Sexual Violence, Intimate Partner Sexual Violence, Human Rights, Teen Dating Violence, and working with Survivors from Diverse Backgrounds.
Protection Orders, Safety Planning, and Prevention are three more important topics that are taught to ensure that advocates have the proper tools to help survivors. If someone that we are working with is in need of filing for a protection order all of the employees at Bright Horizons can help fill out the paperwork and go to the court house with the survivor while she/he files for the protection order. We can be that much needed support system for the survivor. Safety planning can be done with the survivor to ensure that she/he has a plan in place for different scenarios as the situation arises. Prevention is a very important topic because as advocates we want to do whatever we can do to make the public more aware of the job that we do and to try and eliminate domestic and sexual violence.
The Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence spends quite a bit of time going over; Trauma, Trauma informed Care, Vicarious Trauma and Self care with advocates. It is important as advocates to learn about what the survivors that we work with are going through and what trauma does to the mind and body and how it incorporates with stress and different health conditions, and how over time these signs and symptoms will get worse. Trauma informed care emphasis safety, choice, empowerment, encourages authentic relationships, and provides an opportunity for reparation and healing.
Practicing self care is emphasized during the training, as advocates we will deal with a lot of different emotions and feelings we will all at some point feel; a sense of purpose, a sense of accomplishment, increased empathy, increased awareness, personal growth, and the opportunity that we are making a difference! The other side is there is a chance that as advocates at some point we will have feelings of disillusionment, discouragement, increased cynicism, and increased stress which could lead to burnout and compassion fatigue if we are not careful.
A quote that was shared with us during this training that stood out and made sense to me. “Being successful in this work requires “tapping into” our knowledge, skills, and resources, our caring and commitment, and capacity for empathy.” National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health, 2014.
This is what two other Bright Horizon employees had to say about attending the Fundamentals training:
Amanda- Criminal Justice Liaison stated: “Fundamentals of Advocacy was very helpful, I liked being able to bounce ideas off of each other and hear how different agencies are handling different situations. There is so much information handed out and discussed it is hard to retain everything, so the binders are very helpful to be able to take with you. Just learning more about domestic violence and sexual assault was very helpful in my everyday working environment. The different topics discussed included the history of the Anti-Violence Movements, how to be an advocate, networking, self-care, stalking, trauma and trauma informed care, human rights, working with people with diverse back grounds, teen dating violence, and much more. It was very helpful to learn in depth about these topics.”
Mayra-Bilingual advocate stated: “I’d like to say that the Fundamentals of Advocacy training was a great experience, I have never worked in this field before and attending this training answered the many, many questions I had. I learned that as an advocate you are not alone, it was great to meet advocates from different agencies and knowing we all share similar feelings about being an advocate. Personally, I think it was an intense training due to the fact that we have to travel and spend time away from family but I am grateful to have spent time with wonderful people and great facilitators. I like the fact that the training is broken into two parts, that way we can apply what we have learned and then come back and learn some more”.