- Posted by Katie Zwiener
- On May 13, 2020
- Chicago, Chicago suburbs, children services, children survivors dv, Coronavirus, COVID-19, domestic violence agency, DV agency, Pandemic
The following is an excerpt from an interview with WINGS Children’s Advocate Ashley from Michelle Lozano’s blog series “Life in the Time of Quarantine”.
Q. What do you do professionally, Ashley?
I’ve been at WINGS for almost 4 years.
Q. What is a day in the life for you on a regular day (pre-quarantine)?
Every day is different and that’s one reason why I love it. Every day, I’m prepared to possibly help in a crisis, meet a new family actively fleeing domestic violence, or advocate for a child who has been abused.
Although some days can be stressful, I also get to experience seeing a caregiver smiling and laughing with their child, seeing confidence grow weekly with families, and get to see families continue their journey as survivors.
Every day, we all work tirelessly to empower victims and survivors of domestic violence. We do our best to provide them with the tools they need to escape a dangerous situation and to move towards safety and self-sufficiency.
I mostly provide counseling and advocacy for families who reside in our Safe House shelter, in our shared homes, and I visit families in our apartments. Some days I will have figurines, action figures, dolls, etc. for expressive play therapy for the children I work with.
Some days teenagers write songs as a way to share their stories and feelings. We learn mindfulness techniques, create art pieces, and use other interventions that allow the children, teens, and adults to express themselves. Providing psycho-education on domestic violence and teen dating violence are essential parts of the work we do.
We take a holistic “strength-based” approach that highlights, encourages, and develops each client’s strengths.
Q. How has your role been affected by COVID-19 most recently?
It was reported that domestic violence calls have increased. That being said, we are trying to do whatever it takes to help as many people as possible with providing a safe place to go.
We also acknowledge that many victims of DV may not be able to call to get help due to their abuser being home more often. It may not be safe for them to reach out for help which is a pretty terrifying reality.
Every Friday, I feel pretty burnt out from the week. We are consistently at capacity. Once a family or individual moves out, someone moves in right away. We don’t really get a break. So once a family I’ve been working with moves out, I have to quickly prepare for another family who is fleeing from violence.
I haven’t been able to see the families I work with in person. I’ve had to learn how to provide counseling and advocacy through talking on the phone and through a video call platform.
I spend hours planning and prepping new ways for the families to still express their stories, traumas, and feelings with me along with still trying to engage them in learning new coping techniques.
Q. How do you take care of yourself while on the front lines of this pandemic?
I try to keep myself on a routine and try to give myself something to look forward to. Whether that be planning a home workout, setting up a time to call a family member or friend, or watching a new show on Netflix.
My partner and I recently adopted a kitten last week, so he has been our joy and has helped tremendously with self-care.
Q. What’s a “good day” for you at work?
When I see a mom hug her child for her first time.
Or I see a child making themselves a superhero mask expressing that they are as strong as Spiderman or Superman.
I’ll run into an adult in the hallway and they may stop me to say that they painted and finally felt calm for the first time in years.
On amazing days, I will say goodbye to an individual or family as they move into safe housing, stronger than ever.
Although I am still very busy, those interactions turn my days into great days, and make this job worth all the sweat and stress. Also, being able to be with staff and have each other for support makes a day wonderful.
Michelle is A-LMFT is a therapist and writer doing a blog series called “Life in the Time of Quarantine”. This blog series interviews working individuals who have been most affected by the pandemic. You can see Ashley’s full interview here.