Monday, October 27, 2008

So, I'm about six weeks into my brand-spanking-new dream job, and while I really do love it, it can be incredibly depressing.  I'm the volunteer coordinator for a victim advocacy organization, and we see everything.  Literally.  Every single police report made in the county comes across our desks, and it can be frightening.  My coworkers and I have worked with victims of some of the most horrific crimes imaginable.  We respond to crises 24 hours a day, and we help people through the criminal justice process afterward.  Because of how much we see, the staff is made up of some very compassionate people, but some of the other agencies we work with are not.

This is what truly blows my mind.  There are attorney's that tell our DV victims that they don't take DV cases, because they don't understand why the victims keep going back.  There was one particularly egregious case in which an attorney told a sexual assault victim that her case was being declined, because, "Sometimes sex hurts.  That doesn't mean you were raped."  One of the foremost detectives in our law enforcement agency speaks incredibly articulately about the dynamics present in DV situations, and especially about how traditional gender roles and beliefs in them are many times present in such situations, and then in the same breath, speaks about how he is a "good Christian," who believes that he is the head of his wife.  How do these people work so close to such violence, and not see how they enable, contribute, and at the very least, how they do nothing to help stop it?

I  have moments when I am so heartbroken.  Listening to the stories our clients tell us.  Seeing their shame and humiliation on top of their feelings of betrayal and visceral pain, shame and humiliation given them, not by their abusers or attackers, but by the very people in the system who claim to work to help them.

I know change is slow, but sometimes it's so painfully slow that it knocks the wind out of my chest.