Advocate Training by Abby Thames

I have now completed 24 hours of Volunteer Advocate Training! I will begin my volunteer advocate hours this week and while I feel well trained and prepared I am definitely nervous. The staff at STSM reminded us that feeling nervous is a natural and normal emotion for all of us to be having. My nervousness comes from not knowing exactly what situations I might be faced with through this process. It’s not that I don’t feel prepared to handle different situations, I just don’t know what they’ll be until the moment I’m faced with them. But honestly, I think that’s what will make this volunteer work exciting and rewarding. I really do look forward to getting started knowing that I’m working as a part of the team at STSM!

The Volunteer Advocate Training was educational in a lot of ways. Obviously, it taught me so much about how to manage possibly stressful situations and how to best serve the survivor both through the hotline and at the hospital. We discussed everything from technical issues like where all the necessary items are at the hospital and what questions are most important to ask a survivor (and when just to be silent), to emotional issues such as avoiding being judgemental and taking care of ourselves as advocates. All of the instructors were full of experienced knowledge and were very open to our many questions and offered really honest answers. The training was also effective because it allowed me to meet and interact with other volunteers. Learning about each person’s history and what brought them to STSM was really important and inspiring for me. Our group of volunteers was pretty talkative and asked some great questions that I really benefited from. It’s definitely an experience I won’t be forgetting. 

While those volunteer advocate training days were long and packed with information, I feel well equipped to begin my journey as a professional sexual trauma advocate!