|Letter from the Executive Director:
This month, Turning Pointe was invited to lead a workshop called “Stop the Violence”. It was hosted by the First Baptist Church of Shelton and was attended by pastors, youth pastors, ministry leaders, and other nonprofit staff.
The participants, almost half of whom were men, recognized how at times the church has been so focused on reconciliation that the result was to encourage victims to stay in unsafe, unhealthy, and abusive relationships. One pastor admitted that at one time his denomination did not allow women to partake in communion if they were divorced, another confessed that helping people can be a bit of an ego boost in the church.
Erin, our Youth and Prevention Lead, taught the group about the empowerment model. At Turning Pointe, the advocates ask questions and give advice in order to empower survivors to make their own decisions and not infringe on their autonomy. For many, it’s the first time in a long time they can make their own decisions.
The group practiced using the advocates’ empowering questions, like:
What do you feel is the safest option?
What do you think you need to be safe?
What steps would you like to take?
How can I help you take the next step?
Erin shared that survivors are often not used to having the power to make their own decisions. A survivor letting another person make decisions for them–like an advocate or religious leader–transfers power to an outside source instead of taking that power for themselves.
That is the key to empowerment: giving them their choices back. We all have much to learn and I was encouraged by the powerful dialogue we started with many faith leaders in Mason County.
For more information on how you can organize an Advocacy 101 workshop with your community, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gina Finley, MNPL
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“One of our clients has been stuck in a custody battle with her kids’ father. She escaped from his abuse but has been fighting for total custody over her children since she left. The kids haven’t had access to educational support or mental health care because the father insists that they don’t need any extra support, despite professional advice.
After years of representing herself in the courtroom, today we were finally able to help our client with paying for a lawyer.
She told me, ‘I am confident this will put an end to our legal issues for good. I feel like there is finally a light at the tunnel for us.'”
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