- Posted by Katie Zwiener
- On May 13, 2020
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 am a Children’s Advocate/Counselor and Adult Counselor for the WINGS Program Inc. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Work Candidate and ICDVP (Illinois Certified Domestic Violence Professional). I’ve been at WINGS for almost 4 years.
Q. How would you define domestic violence (DV)?
Many people I talk to define domestic violence as only physical or sexual abuse between a wife and husband. Domestic violence can occur between any household members which can be family members, people who are married or used to be married, people who share a home, apartment, or other common dwelling, people who have children together, people who are dating or engaged or used to date, same or different-sex couples, and individuals with disabilities and their assistants.
Many also label domestic violence as a problem for only lower-income families.
Domestic violence does not discriminate.
Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. Domestic violence is not limited to physical and sexual violence. It may involve verbal or emotional/psychological abuse, economic abuse, or spiritual abuse. Threats and intimidation may be used along with harassment. Gaining power and control is at the heart of domestic violence. The abuser wants to maintain power and control.
When domestic violence occurs, it harms more than just the victim. It has a significant effect on friends, family members, and especially children. Children who witness violence in the home are at a high risk. They are more likely to experience emotional, behavioral, and physical concerns. It can also affect their brain development. Children who are exposed to violence learn that violence is normal. They grow up with an increased likelihood of becoming not just abusers, but victims of domestic violence.
Our goal is to break that cycle of abuse in the family.
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.
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.