Learning and Growth: A Summer with the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence

This summer, I am thrilled to be working as the Training and Outreach Intern at the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV). The DCCADV is the federally recognized coalition of organizations, programs, and individuals working to eliminate domestic violence in D.C. They use a framework for their work that identifies social, economic, cultural, political, and legal factors that impact those who are affected by violence, oppression, subordination, and discrimination. DCCADV works to expand community awareness and activism as well as address systematic gaps that exist through public policy initiatives.

It is so incredible to see the inner workings of a non-profit first-hand and learn about advocacy on the levels of training, outreach, and policy, which I have less experience with. The first week of my internship mostly consisted of attending and participating in the Domestic Violence Advocate Core Competency Training (DVACT) which is a 40 hour training that all domestic violence advocates in the District must complete in order to be granted advocate privilege under D.C. law, and which my supervisor runs. It was an amazing opportunity for me as an intern who has not even finished college yet to be able to participate in this training alongside professionals who have dedicated their careers to serving survivors of domestic violence. I was able to learn so much from the sessions and the facilitators, and especially from the other participants. Their insights were eye opening and made me realize intersections and obstacles in this work that I had never thought about. The training helped me see the impact of violence in our larger society instead of just in the college setting I am used to, while at the same time giving me hope.

Tabling at DC Capital Pride with DCCADV!

By attending meetings, I have started to learn how the non-profit is organized, as well as inter-organizational and city dynamics. I have also tabled at events and started working on a few longer term projects.  One project involves mandated reporting; I am looking into the specifics of and any inconsistencies in the law for D.C. in regards to the requirements for the mandated reporting of child abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, and threat of harm to self or others. Additionally, I have started working on gathering information for and helping to draft a language access policy plan for the DCCADV. I have researched what language justice is and how to implement policies that supports it so that all persons, regardless of their proficiency in English, can access the resources and services they want and need.

I feel like I have already begun to achieve some of my goals for this summer such as deepening my critical thinking about psychology and trauma, social justice, and the systems in society that contribute to the perpetuation of violence. By seeing first-hand how a non-profit organization functions, I am learning the processes involved in providing support services with the goal of creating a positive impact. Also, acting in roles such as coordinating programs and doing research are aiding me in discovering what specific aspects of social work appeal to me and where my strengths lie. Through the extensive training and exposure to the difficult topics I am receiving in this role, I am increasing my self-awareness, empathy, and insight into how I can work to prevent violence both on a larger scale as well as on a personal level in my own relationships.

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