by Emmie C., Bilingual Community Counselor, Safe Harbor
It was a student named “David” that led me to work in victim advocacy. I met David in 2009 while I was teaching English at an elementary school in Costa Rica. David was a funny and energetic second grader who loved soccer and would stay as late as he could after school to play with anyone who was around.
I noticed that David was regularly absent, his uniform often looked like it hadn’t been washed and he appeared distracted during classroom activities. One day after class David’s teacher told me that his father was abusive. I realized that playing soccer was David’s escape and that sometimes what was going on at home made coming to school a challenge or not possible at all.
David’s story taught me what it means to be trauma-informed and sparked a question that has been in the forefront of my mind as a counselor and advocate ever since: not the question “What is wrong with you?” but “What has happened to you?” David’s story also is a testament to the impact of domestic abuse on families and communities and the importance of breaking the cycle of violence.
I returned from Costa Rica and have worked in advocacy for survivors of domestic and sexual violence ever since. I am proud to work at Safe Harbor that continuously strives to integrate the principles of trauma-informed care into all areas of the agency. It is my privilege to work with a passionate and dedicated staff that work together to help empower survivors on their journey of healing after an abusive relationship.