(1) Interning at REACH: Bridging the Gap in Accessibility

This summer, I am excited to be interning at REACH. REACH is a local non-profit organization that supports domestic violence survivors by offering a variety of services and resources, as well as providing advocacy and prevention resources within the community. They work directly with survivors to assist them in their current situations and ensure they feel supported and heard. When researching summer internships, I was interested in working with a non-profit that supports disenfranchised and underserved members within communities. REACH supports all survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial background, race, and sexual/ gender identity. I was immediately drawn to their work and mission because their philosophy is that any member within the communities they serve, even those who are marginalized, has access to their resources.

Domestic violence can impact anyone, no matter their social identity, but REACH’s definition of domestic abuse is when control and power are taken away from someone. REACH works to empower survivors by attempting to give them back their control and power. In every interaction, they trust that the survivor is the expert on their situation and allow them to make their own decisions. By offering a variety of services such as counseling, housing, and legal resources, they allow survivors to take control and leave unsafe or unhealthy situations if they wish. They also run workshops within different community groups (from faith groups to K-12 schools) to educate the community about what abuse is, how to recognize it, how to cultivate healthy relationships, and how to respond to abusive situations.

These mirrors are in the REACH waiting area, where many survivors wait before they meet with a REACH team member.

As an intern this summer, I will be working at the front desk, greeting survivors, answering the phone, and responding to anyone who seeks help on the online chat. The online chat is a place where survivors can ask for advice, emotional support, or seek resources. Additionally, I am responsible for small projects and data collection, such as updating manuals and collecting contact information for potential community partners. In all my interactions with survivors, whether it be through the phone, in person, or online chat, I am able to use REACH’s philosophy in trusting that survivors are the experts in their situation. Regardless of my own opinions or thoughts, I trust that survivors are making the best choices for them. Giving survivors their control back and empowering them can be a crucial step in ending the cycle that is domestic violence, and these small interactions can lead to major changes in someone’s life.

Domestic violence has been an issue for centuries, and unfortunately, will likely be around for a long time. Ideally, the change would be eradicating abuse as a whole, but change can also look like a changed social perspective regarding what abuse is and how it can be prevented. Through REACH’s work, more people in the community can recognize abuse and can feel empowered to seek help.