1) When did you first get involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
I started volunteering for W.O.M.A.N., Inc. in October 2015.
2) What inspired you to do anti-violence work?
My freshman year of college, I traveled to Lima, Peru with a group of students to learn more about the street child phenomenon and how it intersects with sex work in the city. During this trip, we had the opportunity to speak with and learn from sex workers who shared their unique stories, strengths, and hopes for the future. This propelled me towards further examining women and sexual violence in areas that have witnessed conflict or hardship and led me to Thailand, Cambodia, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Many of the women I met shared similar experiences of abuse, but also demonstrated remarkable resilience, and I was eager to continue learning from and working with survivors of abuse back home in San Francisco.
3) What kind of opportunities have you been involved with here?
With W.O.M.A.N. Inc., I’ve had the opportunity to work the support line, and in the process, learn a lot about domestic violence resources in the Bay Area. Now, I’m constantly on the lookout for cool organizations and am excited to share what I’ve learned with friends and fellow advocates.
4) How has your involvement impacted your life?
Working the support line has taught me a lot about what it takes to be fully present for another person. I’ve learned the value of pauses and in finding answers to challenging questions together. It’s given me the chance to develop my listening and facilitation skills, and “check myself” and any assumptions I may have often.
5) What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
You may have extensive training to provide support to domestic violence survivors, but the survivor is the expert in their own life and the author of their own story. It’s an honor to be included in their journey, so enjoy the time you have with them and make sure to take time for yourself. Acknowledge when you need space and time to re-energize and reflect.
6) Can you share a fun fact about yourself?
I cannot whistle and have very little interest in learning at this point.
Astrea also writes for Young Minds Advocacy. Check out her recent piece illuminating the importance of cultural competency.