The phone rings loud on the bedside table near my head, and I wake with that tiny heart attack that only truly jarring things, like middle of the night phone calls, seem to trigger. It takes me a moment to gather myself, to remember who I am, where I am, and what that sound is… and then I grab the phone, hop out of bed and cross the hall into the office where I can finally answer.
It’s a familiar voice, Eli, my colleague and friend from the domestic violence and sexual assault shelter where I volunteer. They’ve just received a call from the emergency room about a sexual assault survivor asking for an advocate and I’m the volunteer on-call this week.
Eli handles himself so very well, knowing that while he is awake working the night shift I am still trying to grasp his words, trying to shake the sleep from my body and my mind. As his words sink in I write down the survivor’s name and start pulling on clothes to head to the hospital.
Though I’ve taken a fair amount of these calls during daylight hours, this middle of the night call is a new experience for me. I live in the upper peninsula of Michigan and while I love it here, this particular night also happens to be yet another night with significant snowfall, and it takes me quite a while to dig my car out enough to get it out of the tiny alley next to our house and up the hill toward the emergency room.
Continue reading “Moments by Katie M. Deaver”
Over the summer, I started at a new job, which I’ve decided I can safely describe as a “dream job” – one to which I can bring my full self, and in which I can use all my gifts and strengths. Whereas my old job focused primarily on anti-sexual violence work from an advocate perspective, my new job focuses primarily on sexual violence occurring in the context of human trafficking from an advocate, trainer, and policy perspective. Sex trafficking exists along and as part of the spectrum of gender violence, and yet the history of the modern movements against sexual violence and human trafficking have had very different drives and trajectories.
A few months ago, I attended a training webinar in which Marissa Castellanos of Catholic Charities of Louisville presented on best practices for faith-based organizations involved in anti-trafficking work. She encouraged agencies to use trauma-informed practices, and spoke clearly and strongly against the somewhat common practice of tying services to participation in faith-based activities. “We don’t want to replicate the patterns of the traffickers,” she said, noting that trafficking survivors, by definition, have a traumatic history of being required to do things they don’t want to do in order to have their most basic needs met. When our actions as advocates require survivors to cede their power to our concerns, we counteract any verbal messages we may offer about empowerment, agency, and freedom. Continue reading “God, Consent, and Freedom by Chris Ash”
Seventy-two hours out of every week, I carry a hotline phone. While calls come in waves and some shifts are silent, my everyday and professional lives are peppered with reminders that evil doesn’t just pierce reality through acts of power, control, and violence – it seeps through in discrediting voices and disbelieving questions. It rolls into us off the well-meaning tongues of community members who’d rather protect the status quo than hold people accountable. It wraps its tendrils around us as we walk through each system we are forced to navigate – systems that are not set up to protect our vulnerable hearts and human dignity. Evil powers the backlash wave that tries to knock down every survivor who speaks out about gender, sexual, or intimate partner violence, and it also is in the fear we swallow when we choke down our own stories, press them down deeper, grasping to avoid yet another assault on our integrity, intelligence, and truth.
Evil stains our flags with the undeniable imprints of genocide, slavery, and continuing racial injustice and then demands that we wave those flags, smiling and allegiant, as The American Dream itself is held hostage, torn from its family, held in a cage. Continue reading “Spinning the Fire, Shifting the Current by Chris Ash”