Part of my job as a Victim Advocate is to mentor other advocates, and train them to understand the concepts of connection and trust. I currently have an intern I am mentoring, Diana Seif, who is a senior at Binghamton University. She brought to mind some interesting thoughts:
From childhood, we’re told to ask someone if we’re confused, or lost, or scared. Somewhere along the way, though, asking in adulthood became a sort of taboo. Why is this? Although I’ve already written about Amanda Palmer’s Ted Talk (How to Heal Society With the Art of Asking 5/27/13) her points reign true for both advocates and survivors. Asking for help, regardless of the situation means a person must admit not only to themselves, but to others, “I can’t do this on my own,” and this can be especially difficult for victims of abuse and violence. Sometimes, asking is even seen as something shameful. At Crime Victims Assistance Center, information is provided to survivors of violence of services available step by step before they even need to ask for help.
Another point Amanda brings up is something she learned from street performing; she would often make eye contact and connections with people who had a look of “Thank you… Nobody sees me.” Although very brief, these connections meant the world to some people – she could see it on their faces. Victims are no different from these faces Amanda experienced on the street. People who come to the Crime Victims Assistance Center for help often feel isolated in some way, and one person, whether it’s the family liaison, a counselor, a detective, or anyone they encounter here, can make all the difference with a look of understanding.
Random closeness is another term Amanda threw out when discussing her experiences after exchanging looks of understanding and asking for assistance from her fans. When working with a victim of a crime, it’s important to develop this closeness or trust because information that can be difficult to talk about is being shared. An environment of support and comfort must be provided at places like Crime Victims Assistance Centers in order to result in positive responses from the people we aim to help. This is what Amanda refers to as “connection” but when broken down, it’s really the exchange between two people and developing a trust from that exchange. Trust is developed from the knowledgeable and supporting atmosphere given from the employees at the Crime Victims Assistance Center, and in exchange, survivors or more likely to be open and less ashamed and/or fearful of his or her experience.
This all circles back to Amanda’s point that developing connections, however brief they may be, opens doors to trust and from an advocate’s perspective, an open door means a chance to provide the best options available. Whether it’s by asking a fan for a decent place to sleep in another country, or helping survivors of a crime; the skill of asking for help is by making connections through exchange. Creating trust is essential to develop because no one should have to feel unseen, unheard, or uncared for.