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Answering the call

It’s early on Christmas morning. The coffee is on, the TV is tuned to the fireplace channel, and our advocate is joining their family via Zoom as younger family members open their gifts. After the year that has been, it’s great to see the young ones so excited and happy today. Shouts of “Yes!” and “Thank you!” echo from the tiny laptop speakers as faces in the tiny boxes filled with smiles and everyone uses the chat box to share their updates.

About thirty minutes into the call, just as our advocate can hear their neighbours starting to wake, the ADVAS On-Call phone rings. An on-duty RCMP member is attending to a home where Christmas morning has become a scene of pain and trauma. A young mother is hurting, and her kids are scared.

Our ADVAS Advocate opens the chat box on their Zoom call, “Hey everyone – gotta run – a family needs assistance. I’ll check-in later. Love you all, Merry Christmas!”

They close their Zoom app and continue chatting with the RCMP member, and then make a connection with the people who need them today.

Right now, early on Christmas Morning as kids are waking to find that Santa has visited them, and every hour of every day – ADVAS advocates are connected to members of our community. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve and are proud of what we do.

We want you to know what you can do to help if you know someone who is hurting because of family violence. Here are a few tips to help make the conversations easier when you answer the call:

  1. Listen. We mean *actually listen*. Take everything out of your hands, turn off any screens that you can see, and focus. This is important because if you miss something, it can be traumatizing for the person you are talking to if they have to go over details over and over again.
  2. Admit that the situation is hard. This is not a time to say “Well, you’re tough – you’ll make it through.” A more supportive statement would be, “I can see how hard this situation is. This won’t be easy to get through. I think this will be easier if you have support, and I want you to know that you have my support.”
  3. Ask specific questions. “What can I do to help” is not often the best question. Seek specific permissions that can help guide a person to recovery, “Can I call the police for you? Can I make a sandwich for you? Can I watch the kids on Thursday so that you have time to go to any appointments and make calls? Can I hug you?”
  4. Don’t have an opinion about people but do have one about the actions that lead to the hurt. Calling the offender names or wishing them harm doesn’t help. Focus only on the actions, “You don’t deserve this. This should not have happened. This should not happen again. I am sorry that you are hurting.”
  5. Don’t ask why, and don’t judge. There is no excuse, ever, for family violence. (say it again!) There is no excuse, ever, for family violence. Family and friends asking why violence happened only perpetuates the lie that a person who is a victim could have been “asking for it.” That is offensive and wrong, and that kind of language hurts people who are victims.

If you want to support all women and children who are victims of violence in our community, please make a donation to support our work.

If you know someone who is at risk of imminent harm, call 911.

If you have questions, get in touch with us.