Host Christian Pearson discusses the scope and significance of domestic violence with Matápuna Levenson, a victim advocate and project manager for the Asian Pacific Insititue on Gender-Based Violence. Puna describes the differences between a direct-service and a systematic community approach to violence prevention. Later, she underscores the importance of balancing good intentions with locally-supported interventions, in order to build trust and increase impact in a community. Finally, Christian and Puna take a closer look at the implications of working with small-business owners to address gender-based violence in Cambodia.

Inside the Cambodia Project Episode 13: Approaching Gender-Based Violence

with Matápuna Levenson

[00:00:00.310] – Christian
Hello, I’m Christian, and you’re listening to Inside the Cambodia Project, an educational podcast where we discuss cutting-edge research on sustainable business in an emerging market. Last episode, I talked with Dr Dana Bourgerie, the Director of the Cambodian Oral History Project. Dana had some really unique connections to Southeast Asia, and he shared some his key findings relating to the Chinese diaspora in that part of the world. We also discussed how important it is to know one’s personal history, and Dr Bourgerie explained how the Cambodian Oral History Project is helping the Kamai to do just that. Oh, and at the end of the episode, Dana shared some really inspiring stories about real Cambodians and their crazy life experiences. In this episode, I’m talking with a woman who is more familiar than most with hearing the stories that go mostly untold. From a victim advocate to a social worker, she is a veritable expert in the issue that we will be exploring today, domestic violence. Matápuna Levenson is a project manager for the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. She is responsible for providing technical assistance and training on models and issues related to culturally relevant approaches to gender-based violence, as well as analyzing emerging issues and documenting best practices in serving Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the US.

[00:01:35.460] – Christian
In addition to training and technical assistance, Puna manages the Institute’s ARP Support for Survivors program, which is a multi-year project funded through the Family Violence Prevention Services Act and provides subgrants to culturally-specific community-based organizations that support survivors and their families. Thank you so much for joining us today, PUNA. It’s so great to have you on the podcast all the way from Hawaii.

[00:02:03.700] – Puna
Thank you. I’m so happy to be here.

[00:02:05.960] – Christian
Yeah, I can’t wait to learn more from you about how to navigate a really sensitive topic, right? How can we prevent domestic violence? That’s what I really want to learn today. But before we get into that, I love to start every podcast with a quote, just kick things off. And today’s quote comes from the award-winning novelist. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Dorothy Kumson. She wrote about love and hurt in her book, My Best Friends, Girl. Here’s the quote. She says, Far too many people open their hearts and lives at the drop of a hat. Why give someone power over you? Why endow them with the ability to hurt you that much? Let someone in, and you were asking for an emotional kicking someday. The reason I wanted to share that quote is, well, it is quite raw. While While her book is actually about a woman taking in a friend’s child and learning to love that child, this specific quote speaks to the reality that loving someone often opens a person up to hurt. I’d love to hear your perspective on this quote, Funa. Why should Are you still try to share love with others?

[00:03:18.610] – Puna
I think that’s probably one of the biggest questions, I think, in our experience as human beings in our relationships. There’s a reason. There’s a reason why we have so many songs, poetry, art that talks about love. It’s that thing that drives us, that we aspire to, that we want, yet so hard to define, especially because it’s also connected to when those who we love or who love us harm. I think it’s a really important place to start from when we’re talking about intimate partner violence, domestic violence, family violence. I think specific to this quote, what What I feel and what I think when I see this is that the relationship between a parent or caregiver and child is actually really poignant, because to me, that’s the ultimate love, the love that teaches us how to love every other human being, every human relationship and interaction we have. We often use that phrase about loving your neighbor. But when you love a child, when you care for a child, that’s another level because the love is focused on the recipient, less about you, more about the recipient. I think it brings the most fulfillment. I’m a mom.

[00:04:37.330] – Puna
I have two boys I just gave birth three months ago. Congratulations. Thank you. It feels especially resonant for me right now. Not everyone will have children for whatever reason. I can say personally, I am biased that it is the truest joy that you can experience because it has been for up until this point in my life. It has directly informed my work in the domestic violence and gender-based violence field.

[00:05:07.890] – Christian
Thank you for sharing that. I had an insight just as you were speaking. I think if it weren’t for our parents, I don’t know who we would learn love from, right? That’s where we get it. That’s where I learned love was from my mom. I’ve heard, I don’t know this from experience, but I’ve heard that the work of a is at once the hardest and yet the most fulfilling work. I think we could expand that to be the work of love. Just loving someone can be at once so hard and yet so worth it in the long run.

[00:05:45.950] – Puna
Yeah, absolutely.

[00:05:48.300] – Christian
I don’t know if you agree with that, but I think I believe that for sure. Thanks so much for just entertaining us with that for a second. But before we get into the meat and potatoes with today’s topic, I really want to know how you got involved with your work on preventing gender-based violence. What were the steps you took to get to where you are right now?

[00:06:11.140] – Puna
Thank you. Thank you for asking. I’m actually very excited to share this because I have a selfish ambition to recruit many people to get into the field of social work and the anti-violence movement. So I’ll just start from there. There’s three ways I look at this question is, I guess the steps and experience I had in my education through my academics, my professional experiences, and then the personal. So with school, I certainly earned my undergraduate degree in social work. And the reason being, it was heavily influenced by my mission. I had a mission president who was a fantastic and amazing social worker. Under his mentorship and guidance, that really inspired me to change. Prior to the mission, I wanted to be a political science major. I wanted to go to law school. But based on the things that we’re going to talk about today, what I saw in practice, and as I learned more about the field of social work, I wanted to become a social worker because of the values and ethics of the social work profession and the skills that I felt aligned with who I am as a person, and certainly what I was learning in my real life outside of even just a mission.

[00:07:28.040] – Puna
That continued on to graduate I had already been working in the domestic violence field for a while and felt a strong pull to advance my education. Social workers, especially in grad school, you typically take the foundation clinical courses with therapeutic, counseling, all those school things. But my focus was unique. Our program at USD, the focus in the School of Social Work was called Social Change and Innovation. So it’s taking a macro systems focus, really encouraging that entrepreneurial innovative spirit in the way we address grand challenges, societal issues and problems happening in our communities. Now, so far in my career working for this National Resource Center, I felt a strong pull to go back to school to really scale up and build up my skills as a researcher. So that’s currently now through the University of Hawaii’s Social Social Welfare PhD program, which I’m currently on leave because of maternity leave. But yeah. So that’s been my academic journey. Professionally, as I said, as a social worker, I really align myself and make some of my professional and practice decisions based on social work code of ethics. But what I wanted to share is what my professional experience has been that led me to in this field.

[00:09:00.930] – Puna
And that first was with my undergraduate field placement, the internship that undergrad social work students are required to do. And that was through the International Rescue Committee of Salt Lake City. The IRC is one of two designated organizations through the State Department who supports the resettlement of refugees and asylies. And I was a casework and mental health intern, and that was an incredible experience working with folks who have fled violence and conflict in their other countries and are newly settled in the United States. We, as interns, supporting their case management and their mental health team, had the opportunity to welcome them at the airport, help them be placed in their homes, help them connect with local community services, even how to navigate just Salt Lake City’s public transportation system, how to connect them with all these… The museums, the cultural events. What I love about Salt Lake City is it’s a refugee welcoming city. We have such a strong, robust refugee community in Salt Lake City, and I was so lucky and privileged to be part of that just as an intern. Then while living in Utah at that time, I was homesick and wanted to connect with my Pacific Islander community.

[00:10:23.630] – Puna
I was born in America, American famoa, and raised in Hawaii, so I felt the draw to wanting to connect with My Island People. I did that as a volunteer doing community organizing with the Utah Pacific Island Health Coalition and Civic Engagement Coalitions. Then from those volunteer community building opportunities, I actually then became employed with the largest domestic violence and victim services organization in the state of Utah. It still is, and that’s YWCA Utah. I became a victim advocate and eventually became the lead victim advocate and coordinator for their the Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center program. From these experiences, working in community organizing, working with diverse communities, that really built up my knowledge and subject matter expertise in domestic violence and gender-based violence, but also helped me to understand the systemic issues, the challenges that survivors were engaging with various institutions and organizations and systems responders. What the disparities were like and what the issues were, and just finding justice and safety and healing.

[00:11:37.600] – Christian
I think what makes you really unique is, at least from what I’m hearing, is you said that when you’re at USC, you got to focus more on on a macro level, which is something that we’re really focused on, is how can we influence an organization or a community for good, and drive social change, I guess, from the top down. But you’ve also worked from the bottom up. So you’ve done both. You’ve been a victim advocate. And I’d love if you could explain a little more what that’s like. But yeah, just really cool. You’ve been able to dip your toes in both sides of that instead of just being… I think usually, when I think of a social worker, they’re usually more one on one. But it sounds like you did get to look at the issue from both sides, which is really great.

[00:12:27.220] – Puna
Thank you. Thank you. That means a lot because I I feel like there’s strength in folks who do one-on-one direct services work, that is our superpower that I feel like is really strong and relevant to informing larger systems and societal change because we can see what the direct impact of social issues are like. I’m excited to talk a little bit about what a victim advocate does. A victim advocacy is an approach to supporting folks who are experiencing various crimes, but specific to this conversation, we’re talking domestic violence. As a profession, these are folks who are trained, trained in trauma-informed care, trained in survivor-centered approaches to ensure that anybody who’s seeking support, whether they are currently in crisis because they’re experiencing abuse by a partner, or who have left or are preparing to leave, these advocates are specially trained to talk, to to engage, to provide recommended resources, to advocate on their behalf with different organizations, helping professionals. They work with survivors to develop a safety plan. They also help to assess danger. So they conduct danger or futility assessments to help a survivor understand what the situation is and how severe the situation is so that they can better safety plan.

[00:13:57.270] – Puna
An advocate, though we We recognize that there’s a lot of helping professionals and experts. I wanted to go back to that concept about being survivor-centered is that we can give the best advice to anybody who’s seeking support and help. But really, our purpose is to provide options, the most viable information and options so that a survivor can better make the decision. It’s not us that are making the decisions for them. We see their inherent strength and power to be safe and to make the right decisions for themselves and their families. We act as that resource, that person that you can go to who does know and is aware of the other resources that are available in the community offers this support, and just is there for the survivor, and it’s a dedicated position. Not everyone We’ll choose victim advocacy as their profession, but there are those folks who choose to focus on it to support survivors for various reasons. We’re all brought to this work for a reason, myself included. But yeah, hopefully we will get more folks who want to go into the field.

[00:15:17.810] – Christian
Yeah, that’s crazy. I think that’s a lot deeper than I first imagined when I heard victim advocate. Sounds like you’re… I did psychology before switched to my current major marketing, it sounds like you’re like a one-on-one psychologist, almost. And not just a psychologist, but a friend for these people that really do need friends, that really do need good advice. And that’s so cool. You’re able to connect people with the resources they really need. I’d love if you could share some of the things you’ve learned through your work. What do you think, for example, what do you think people misunderstand understand about domestic violence?

[00:16:02.740] – Puna
What comes up for me is that most people think of domestic violence or intimate partner violence as a private or a personal matter. That it’s something that stays between couples and within families. Yes, that has been the case for a long time. When I say a long time, I mean the span of human history. We have viewed this issue from that perspective. But to make that personal connection, I grew up in a home where there was domestic violence. I knew intimately, and I saw in real time what the impacts were on myself, my siblings, our extended family, our neighborhood. Domestic violence isn’t just restricted to just your personal family relationships. It often spills into classrooms, into workplace settings, because let’s just use schools and classrooms, for example. When children are witnessed to domestic violence, abusive things that are happening within their families, or who are experiencing the abuse themselves, that will come up in various behaviors in school settings. The more modern impacts that we see in real-time in the United States is that connection between domestic violence and mass shootings, because we have found in the research, we have a lot of organizations in research researchers who are examining this connection because a lot of mass shooters have a history of intimate partner, domestic violence, or violence against women.

[00:17:39.650] – Puna
That’s something that’s really important to highlight and to not minimize. I mean, that’s a serious problem. If one in three women, just women in United States, are experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime, if you were to map an entire neighborhood block, that’s one in every three households have experienced some form of domestic violence. If you go deeper into what domestic violence looks like on a daily basis in the lifetime of a relationship, it is like terrorism that’s happening between couples. It is horrific. Gender-based violence is the most extreme example. It’s the most extreme form of gender inequity. When you see violence within relationships and in a community, it isn’t just an individual or a couple’s It’s a human rights issue. It’s something that I wish we took more seriously. We are coming through a pandemic, a global public health emergency. Imagine if you viewed domestic violence and gender-based violence in that same respect. Countries will actually… They will announce emergencies, national emergencies, because of gender-based violence or feminicides that are happening in their nation, and they want to stop it. I think recognizing and viewing it with the seriousness that it is, that it is people who are harming, terrorizing, manipulating, abusing, exploiting relationships, partners, even children within these family settings, we have to take it seriously.

[00:19:19.990] – Puna
It isn’t just the private matter. It’s absolutely impacting our community.

[00:19:24.790] – Christian
I think it’s crazy what you were saying about how it goes goes beyond the walls of the home. It goes with the children into their classrooms and how they interact with fellow students, or it goes into the neighborhood. That’s interesting and unsettling, to be honest, but important that we recognize that. Could you tell me more about what you guys do? What does the Asian Pacific Institute do to address such an important issue, like gender-based violence? Yeah.

[00:20:00.820] – Puna
So the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, or APIGBV, we’re also referred to as the institute. We are a national culturally-specific resource center on domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence. So what that means is we are federally funded. We are not a government agency. We’re a nonprofit national organization that works as part of a larger gender-based violence resource network, which are resource centers that are federally funded through the Department Department of Health and Human Services to provide training and technical assistance in special issue or subject matter expertise or that are targeted to culturally specific communities as APIGBV is. So what we do is, like I said, we provide training and technical assistance. First and foremost, our priority is to the community-based, culturally-specific organizations that serve Asian-American Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern communities that reside in the United States. So these community-based programs, their primary purpose is to serve in a culturally responsive way to survivors from our culturally-specific communities. So their programming, their leadership, their staff, all reflect the Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora in the US. And so as a training and technical assistance provider, we will go to locations, we’ll provide virtual technical assistance.

[00:21:32.460] – Puna
It could be on things like program or organizational development, strategic planning, board recruitment, victim services provision, trauma-informed culturally responsive advocacy, all these topics, all these things that folks who are on the ground that are serving and helping survivors and their families need. And that’s possible because of federal policies or legislation. It When you introduced me, you mentioned the Family Violence Prevention Services Act. That’s one federal policy that helps to fund all the victim services throughout the United States. The other that a lot of folks are familiar with is the Violence Against Women’s Act. That’s another federal policy that ensures a systemic response to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. We’re very fortunate. We have, I would say, over 150 organizations in the US that identify as being culturally-specific, serving Asian Pacific Island communities. That’s a large network. We also operate as a clearinghouse of resources, data, research. We are a convener. We help to bring together our organizations and communities around the issue about GBV and culturally-specific responses. So, yeah, that’s very.

[00:22:58.440] – Christian
Sounds like you have a very large scope, wide scope. That’s great. Honestly, I’m really glad to hear that there’s such a good, like you said, network of support systems in the United States. I hope that we can learn from that and maybe implement it elsewhere. Talking about the Cambodia project, I know you had an earlier call with my fellow research assistant, Kylie Soug, and you shared a lot of good advice from what she told me about ensuring our research interventions in Cambodia aren’t too heavily biased by, you call it a white savior complex. Could you tell me more about that? How can we design an intervention aimed at decreasing GBV, gender-based violence, but still respect the culture? She said, We to take a culturally responsive approach. How can we do that? What are some specific action items that we could carry out?

[00:24:06.610] – Puna
Thank you for asking this question. I’m always excited to talk about this because when we talk about what support and solidarity across communities, what it can look like, I think it starts… Where I like to start when we think about this is who are the people that are most impacted by any phenomenon that we’re investigating? If you’re just taking it from a research perspective or as someone who’s developing an intervention or curriculum, what is the issue? The issue we’re talking about is domestic violence or gender-based violence, and who is most impacted. In this case, we’re talking about individuals and families that are in Cambodia. Here in the United States, our focus with the institute, and in my work, is for Asian and Pacific Islander survivors here in the United States. When you look to those who are most impacted, you got to uplift and find those opportunities to to highlight, to uplift their expertise, because their lived expertise, they are a valued partner. Too often, especially in academia and in research approaches, It’s flipped is that you as the researchers look to as the expert. But this is a flip from that. I wanted to share a little bit about what community-based participatory research is, which imbues this research approach and methodology by, again, uplifting and centering those who you are investigating, collecting data and information about as the experts.

[00:25:40.980] – Puna
They are the center of your research methods and methodology. So what that means and what that requires is a change or a shift from a traditional research perspective where the researcher is the expert and be in partnership with with those who are impacted. So what that can look like is certainly in listening sessions and key informant interviews, but we would encourage a step above that even. It’s to view members of the community that is impacted by this issue of domestic violence and from this community as partners, co-creators, co-researchers. So any way that you can center and elevate the leadership and co-create, co-partner with, let’s use the Cambodia Project, with folks who are based in Cambodia, with survivors that are Cambodian, with the advocates and the leaders of the victim services programs, that would be our recommendation because of the lived experience, the cultural knowledge and understanding, the deep relationships and connection in their community. That would, I would say, in my opinion, make the research most important impactful, most effective, and you would reach those outcomes and goals that you want, why you wanted to do the research in the first place, and why you wanted to do the intervention.

[00:27:10.560] – Christian
In other words, it’s really important that we have a network of, essentially, the people we’re trying to impact there on the ground because they know more and are better equipped to help other victims gender-based violence than we are. As we’re so far removed from this situation. We don’t have another option. We have to partner with people that are right there, right on the ground, so close to the source.

[00:27:42.800] – Puna
I would also add that it’s part of a commitment to dismantling and addressing the legacy of colonization in these communities. We think of colonization as something from the past, but what we don’t realize what we need to recognize, especially if you’re taking… If you want true systemic and societal change, is to recognize that the impact of colonization, our experience and current today. The way it looks like that, what colonization looks like today, is the disparate impact. Let’s use the United States, for example, is the mass and over-incarceration and arrest of communities of color. I’m just going to use the Pacific Islander community. We are small in percentage of the US population, but the disparities in terms of arrest, incarceration, child removals, and child protection and custody situations, health risks, whether it’s diabetes, heart disease, all these things, is a result of those long and ongoing impacts. I think just recognizing that, understanding that, and making practice and research decisions that addresses it directly. So the practical ways is, again, to uplift the leadership and be a co partner with the people that you are working with about the issue that you’re investigating, how it impacts their community.

[00:29:06.170] – Puna
That helps to address those power differences. Research in historically marginalized communities, it can be a dirty word. Something that we’ve learned from Dr. Linda Smith-Tudyvi about decolonizing research is that when folks come into communities who are not part of the community, there is great suspicion and distrust because of ongoing harms that have occurred. For sure. So, yeah.

[00:29:39.570] – Christian
Yeah, we definitely don’t want to garner any distrust. In fact, the whole basis of this project is very dependent on trust, specifically within those communities we’re trying to impact. And thank you so much for those insights. Within the context of our humanitarian research project, Project, which, by the way, aims to promote social good and reduce domestic abuse through business-led community interventions in Cambodia, how would you say, how could we use businesses or work with businesses more appropriately to come together to overcome gender-based violence, specifically for Asian and Pacific Islander women? What would you do if you were me and you were designing an intervention and you were going to try and use small business owners and use them as the partner, them as the people that are going to help reduce GVV? What would that look like?

[00:30:39.210] – Puna
I think a concept and model that we use a lot in the domestic violence and gender-based violence field is the coordinated community response. That was something that was developed by advocates in Minnesota because they recognized and thought through their work and their experiences, a disconnect, very siloed responses to domestic violence as an issue in a community. I think for business owners, small businesses, is to recognize and to teach about their role as being part of the community. You are the eyes and ears. You are interacting with folks, likely who are survivors or victims themselves, who may currently actively be experiencing it. You could be interacting and engaging with those who harm folks who are perpetrating this type of violence in their relationship with their family.

[00:31:33.290] – Christian
Empowering the business people.

[00:31:36.910] – Puna
Yeah. My role is to support the capacity building of victim services providers. My recommendation is to view in that same way with businesses. What is the role of a business within a community setting? Who is it that they engage with? In this case, we’re talking about survivors and those who harm. What is the knowledge and skills that they need to respond? How do they talk? In a trauma-informed, survivor-centered, culturally responsive way, whether to a woman who may be experiencing violence or potentially someone that may be harming. What is the knowledge and skills that they need? Then what do they want to do with that? Is it to Do they need to build their own skills and capacity to provide warm referrals, recommendations? Domestic violence is a business or workplace matter as well, because if we know the prevalence, I think developing a business process and policies to ensure that survivors that are employed by them, they are cared for with employee assistance programs, paid time off, things like that. Then even just from a practical safety standpoint, because, again, like I mentioned, domestic violence builds into community-based settings. So ensuring that there are safety protocols.

[00:32:54.630] – Puna
If an abusive partner who is stalking an employee or is harassing the workplace, those are really important things. Like I said, I think just building business owners and staff with the knowledge, based on skills to respond to it in all the various ways, it takes practice. It takes absolute practice, ongoing, because even not everyone can be a domestic violence expert, but I can tell you, even within the field, we are constantly having to respond to new ways in which violence, abuse, and exploitation manifest, especially in this new technology age.

[00:33:32.740] – Christian
Wow. So they got to be innovative, willing to change as well. That’s really interesting. I wanted to bring the conversation back to what we talked about at the beginning, right? You told me a little bit about how you got to where you are now. And you mentioned we talked about this, I guess, the two sides of the same sword or the same coin, where you’ve got a more direct service side of social work, and then also the larger systematic implementation side, which is what we’re looking at, what we’re talking about. So why do you think it’s important to understand both? Specifically for us, why is it important for people interested in promoting social good to not just focus on the macro, as you called it, or on the other hand, why would it important for a direct service provider to look outside their specific scope and see what the bigger system is doing? Sorry, that’s a really complicated question.

[00:34:41.140] – Puna
It’s a great question. It’s an important one, and I think it demand It’s a good answer. I’ll do my best to respond. I think a multi-layered, multi-level approach is needed for any social issue or grand challenge in our lives as human beings. Because the impacts of something like domestic violence, it spans the lifetime. Gender-based violence spans the life course of a single human being. You may not necessarily have just been abused by an intimate partner. You might have experienced abuse as a child, as a young adult, as an aging adult. I think it’s important to have, especially when we’ve talked about the disparate impacts, about the historical trauma that communities have experienced. That’s a systemic problem. That’s a societal issue. It require a multilevel approach. It also goes back to that concept of valuing and elevating and centering the leadership and experience of those who are most impacted by this issue of domestic violence. It’s really important. It is from them that we will find the solutions because they know what it feels like, what it lived like, and can critique and provide guidance and insight, whereas we just might not be self-aware, especially when you are a system response.

[00:36:00.790] – Puna
Government-funded courts, law enforcement, emergency medical, even victim services providers, we will be stuck in this professional expert perspective that we sometimes think, Yeah, we’re good. We have the expertise. Again, we’re not living through it. It’s really important to serve and center and uplift survivor’s experiences. I think for true social change, because this is a social humanitarian issue, the human problem, it requires that multi-holistic approach because the violence itself impacts in a holistic way. It requires community, societal, and true investment over years. Culture is developed over time. Encouraging a culture, a societal culture with norms and practices and values and beliefs, where nonviolence is the key, where you see equity and respect in relationships that requires deep long term investment.

[00:37:11.390] – Christian
In other words, Funa, because gender-based violence is both an individual and a community issue. It requires both an individual and a community response. Is that about right?

[00:37:27.120] – Puna
It feels overwhelming, which is why you’re not expected to be a domestic violence expert. I think understanding and educating yourself as an individual and as an organization or a business is a practice. It’s not just an outcome, it’s something that’s ongoing. So giving yourself grace, the fact that you are interested and you care and you want to address this, is a fantastic start. It’s a great start.

[00:37:55.650] – Christian
That is encouraging for sure. Well, Well, this has been really great, Funa. Thank you so much for coming on. Before we go, I just have one last question for you. As someone who’s worked so deeply on both the academic and the direct services side of gender-based violence for so long, how do you keep yourself from not getting burnt out? Specifically, we have a lot of listeners from a lot of different countries on this podcast. What advice would you give to those who may serve as either a professional or nonprofessional emotional support for victims of domestic abuse? What is the best way that they can help without getting hurt?

[00:38:40.060] – Puna
So speaking to this audience, I first want to I want to express my gratitude to you as a fellow advocate, as someone who has dedicated and focused my career choices and academic training to this issue. Thank you. Thank you for wanting to join the movement, this anti-violence movement. We need you. I’m going to be open and vulnerable and say that practicing self-care and all that is a… I haven’t done always a great job on it, but I I would say in the years that I have been, almost a decade now in the domestic violence and gender-based violence field, that prioritizing your health and well-being is critical. I mean that in the most literal sense in terms of your life, your health, and your well-being. Domestic violence impacts families. So the secondary trauma that you experience when you are working directly with survivors is real. So I know you understand this. I just want to validate and acknowledge that, that this is where we’re at. But because of that, please practice, and I encourage this and try to do this myself and with my colleagues, is radical self-care and compassion, self-compassion. Patience and love for yourself and the things that you are doing and where you may falter or where you need more skills development, please, again, practice radical compassion and self-care.

[00:40:13.330] – Puna
We need you to do so. We need Because we know that you genuinely want to support and help survivors and end this type of violence. We need you to practice this to take care of yourself. You can’t give from an empty cup. I know that these are just common cliché things that we say, but it’s common because it is a need. It’s a gaping need in our field. The choice to directly run towards a fire, like domestic violence, It’s not a popular thing. Even though we popularize and talk about it a lot in media, in public, in real life, nobody really wants to do that. It’s for good reason. It’s a scary, terrifying thing. Everything, especially if you’ve experienced it or you grew up in it. But we need you. We need you just like we need first responders and helping professionals, clinicians and therapists, all these things. We need you. So in order to do that, to do this fulfilling and needed work, take care of yourself. You need it and you deserve it. You deserve to have self compassion and radical care.

[00:41:33.050] – Christian
Of course. Thank you so much. That’s wonderful advice. I couldn’t think of a better way to finish off this episode than that call to action, right? For For our listeners out there, we do need you. You may not know it, may not realize it, but there are people in your life that really do need you. As always, remember that you have potential to make an impact, that you can drive change in your own community, in your own home, wherever you might be in the world. And so, finally, remember to lift where you stand.