November 1, 2023

Mission Moment – DV Support Advocacy

About DV Support Advocacy

YWCA Spokane’s Domestic Violence Support Advocacy creates a welcoming and nonjudgmental space for survivors to unpack the complexities of their situation and feel heard. Through the intake process, Support Advocates listen to what the survivor’s current needs are and offer options. A component of this first meeting can include some domestic violence education as many of our clients equate or limit domestic violence to just physical abuse. After explaining the examples from the Power & Control Wheel, survivors often self-identify tactics that fit their experiences.

“It’s an eye opening moment,” says Morgan C., Director of Advocacy Support. “It can also be pretty scary to sit with that information, which is where the Support Advocate can be with the person as they start to process it.”

Support Advocates can also meet with clients while they are receiving additional services. Appointments with other advocates, such as legal or housing, can be very task-oriented and have limited time available. Support Advocates are then able to offer further emotional support, a wider array of resources, and a deeper level of safety planning.

“We cater to what the survivor’s needs are in that moment,” states Alondra H., Support Advocate.

Impact of Support Advocacy

Support Advocacy creates intentional time for the survivor to voice what they’re going through: fears, hopes, challenges, all of it. The advocate can then share resources, provide emotional support, or listen while the survivor processes ideas aloud. Support Advocacy can act like a hub to the rest of our agency, with advocates helping inform clients of our other services and making appropriate referrals.

Earlier this year, Alondra had a client start accessing Support Advocacy who then began to engage with our support group. More recently, this survivor shared that her former partner was stalking her and that he had broken her windows where she lived. Alondra brought up our Mobile Housing Advocates and wondered if they could provide any support. In the end, our Mobile Housing team was able to pay for the windows to be repaired.

This connection was possible because our Support Advocates are so knowledgeable about our other programs. At first, Alondra wasn’t sure if our Housing Advocates could help with window repair, since their focus is getting people into permanent housing; however, it became clear that this was a matter of housing stability and they had funds to help.

Christina W. holds up the Power & Control Wheel

In May of this year, Christina W., our other DV Support Advocate, met with a survivor who had no idea where to go or what to do about what she was experiencing. The client was not previously aware that domestic violence includes more than physical abuse. Throughout the client’s journey we were able to safety plan while she was still in her marriage. Christina was able to validate the survivor’s experiences, offer resources, and empower her to make whatever decisions she felt ready to do. As of October 2023, this survivor has actively engaged in Support Group, divorced her abuser, and was able to find safe and affordable housing with the help of our housing team. “Seeing survivors go from being scared, confused, and hopeless to strong and empowered is one of the most fulfilling parts of being a Support Advocate,” shares Christina.

Our support Advocates create a supportive, warm, and collaborative space in which clients can explore their experiences and devise their own answers. We never assume that we are the expert when it comes to a survivor’s personal experiences. As a Support Advocate, Christina believes that acceptance, positive regard, and knowledge of resources are essential tools in helping a survivor realize their full potential.

Our Approach

Our agency lives out the empowerment model and trauma-informed care in all of our services. Our Support Advocates exemplify this approach.

The empowerment model means we are not here to tell survivors what they should do. “We provide options and then they decide what’s best in their experience because they are the experts,” says Alondra. Support Advocates can be a sounding board for survivors; individuals who can help them weigh the pros and cons. We can educate on tactics of domestic violence or walk alongside clients navigating complex systems. Support Advocacy is a place survivors can figure out what they want to do next.

It’s important that the survivor is the one making decisions about their next steps. “In order to sustain change, the individual has to want it for themselves,” shares Jessie C. Advocacy Support Manager. We want to help survivors gain the tools they need to continue on their journey after their time with us ends.

To Support Advocates, trauma-informed care means recognizing that clients are experiencing a number of barriers and stressors in their lives and we shouldn’t judge how they might be showing up at the moment. “This isn’t a ‘what’s wrong with you’ moment, but a ‘what happened to you’ moment,” Morgan states.

We normalize the healing process and support in whatever way is needed. There is no shame or judgment given by our advocates. We firmly believe that survivors are doing their best and we do not blame them for their circumstances.

Whether someone is still in the relationship, recently left, or exited years ago, we can still provide support and resources. We serve women, men, children, families, transgender, and non-binary folks. We work with survivors along a wide spectrum of experiences and stages of their journey because domestic violence can affect anyone no matter where they are on this continuum.


Learn More

  • We have walk-ins available on Mondays from 9am – 11:15am for Support Advocacy. View flyer.
  • To learn more about our support advocacy and other services, visit ywcaspokane.org/services or call our front desk at 509-326-1190

By: Jemma Riedel-Johnson

Related Posts

Jun 24, 2024 Jul 22 @ 11:16 pm

Celebrating Success in Gun Safety Amidst Recent Supreme Court Decision

I am grateful to be able to share some good news with you today about one of the ways we’re collaborating with law enforcement to prevent senseless violence and protect survivors.

Jun 20, 2024 Jul 22 @ 11:16 pm

2024 Pride Re-Cap

YWCA Spokane joins thousands in Spokane for the 2024 Pride parade and festival.