I joined W.O.M.A.N., Inc. for both personal and political reasons, reasons which of course overlap and influence one another. I grew up in a home amidst domestic violence and heavy substance use, the effects of which dominated and permeated everyday life. At an early age, I found myself being the primary confidante of other members of my family and have since generally been a primary confidante and supporter of friends. I thus felt I had some level of emotional intelligence as well as an intimate knowledge of Domestic Violence that could be put to use by standing in solidarity with others affected by it. In political terms, as someone who identifies as a white/settler/cis-gendered man, I have great social privilege in this culture that manifests itself through, among other things, the patriarchy of which I am both a product and – as much it disgusts me – a propagator, like all cis-men. I do my best to constantly be self-critical of this privilege and how it dictates my behavior and fight this oppression; I see volunteering at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. as a way to scrutinize my own behavior, give support and care to survivors of patriarchal oppression, and work to make Domestic Violence a regular part of our discourse of patriarchy.
Thus far, I have volunteered on both the Crisis Line and the Events Committee. It has been a huge learning experience: the 40-hour training, expertly executed by the instructors and many guests, allowed me to understand my own family in new and surprising ways as well as the intersection of State apathy/violence and oppression within the home; the Crisis Line is always unpredictable and challenging and necessitates being very present; and the Events Committee, an even newer experience, promises to be a way for me to connect with the broader SF community (as I live in Oakland and rarely spend time in SF outside of W.O.M.A.N., Inc.).
Because I have a fair bit of teaching/tutoring and public speaking experience – and enjoy doing such things – I may wish to be involved in the Outreach Committee at some point, perhaps after spending a few months on the Events Committee and seeing whether that is a good fit for me. I look forward to continuing to volunteer with W.O.M.A.N., Inc. – in only a few months, I’ve learned a great deal!