Help in the Middle of the Night
Updated: Jun 5, 2019
Rachel is the Overnight Advocate at Sojourner Shelter and has been working with women and families at the shelter for over 12 years. Read on for her unique vantage point in the effort to promote safety for victims of domestic violence.
As the Overnight Advocate at Sojourner Shelter, my job is to help provide a safe and secure environment during the overnight hours for the women and children staying at the shelter. Many clients in our program are really busy during the day with work, taking care of their children and going to appointments. The evening can be a time for the women to talk and support one another and have some space for themselves. I am available to provide support and information to our families at any time they may need it (even at 3am!) Victims of domestic violence need to be heard and know that their experience and feelings are valid and important.
The evening time can be especially hard for our families because they aren’t sleeping in their own homes. The quiet of the night can bring up anxiety and difficult memories that make it challenging to relax and sleep. The environment is unfamiliar and new so it’s very important to provide encouragement to get through this transitional time of their lives. I have the opportunity to listen and let them know they aren’t alone.
The reality is, domestic violence can happen at any time, so it’s also important for an advocate to be available to offer support and information to victims coming into the shelter or via our 24/7 Crisis Line. People call at all hours seeking assistance in safety planning, to discuss potentially leaving their abusive relationship and to get emotional support. Many domestic violence victims don’t have anywhere to go to feel safe because their abuser knows all their friends and family. This is one of the reasons it is critical to provide shelter and services 24 hours a day. I have the unique opportunity to provide services to someone that needs help to get out of a dangerous and potentially life threatening situation in the middle of the night. I truly feel honored to work with many amazing and courageous women. I have learned a lot from the many women and children we serve and believe our mission to prevent and eliminate domestic violence is extremely important.