What Is Advocacy?

Advocacy is a word we use often when we describe the work we do.  When you open an FCC brochure, it’s listed right there as one of our services.  So… what does it mean, exactly?

The answer to that is endless. There are so many things our staff do to help the people we serve. Advocacy for one person can look completely different for another.  The things we do one day can be completely different the next. Advocacy, for us, is as unique as the individuals we serve. It is what we do to ensure the people we help have the tools and resources necessary to protect their rights and safety.  It is what gives them a voice, something that was suppressed by
an abuser or lost because of an unexpected violent crime or homicide.

So for "Natalie", advocacy meant safety planning.  Do you know what it’s like to plan for your safety in your own home?  If you've never had to, these are some questions we run through over and over again. What areas in your home are safe with no weapons and ways to escape?  Do you have important emergency numbers saved and ready to dial? Is your phone charged at all times? Could you throw a few essentials in your car randomly enough that it doesn’t look like a planned escape?  These questions are not the same for everyone. The plans can change over time, bringing in new questions and details to remember. We practice these plans repeatedly because something that seems obvious and small can be lifesaving for a person in crisis.

For "Rebecca", advocacy was unwavering support as she worked to maintain her independence from her abuser.  We safety planned for months before she was granted a protection order and left her abuser. She was able to get her own place in the community she wanted to live in through our Rapid Rehousing program.  We helped her work on a resume and find a job. We worked with her to develop a budget, making sure she understood all of the expenses of her new life and home. Those donations of food, toiletries and cleaning supplies? They helped her make her rent at a time when the budget was so tight she didn’t have a penny to spare. We helped her establish a social circle, something her abuser made sure she did not have.

For "Jake", it was so many things following the death of his wife due to a drunk driver.  It was helping him get reimbursement for funeral costs and travel expenses for loved ones.  It was connecting him with local counseling services. It was making sure communication continued with law enforcement and county attorneys.  It was supporting him through the trial and with his victim impact statement. It was surrounding him with care through our staff led grief support groups.

The stories could fill pages upon pages.  With just these few, though, you can see just how unique our services can be.  

So if you’d like to know what advocacy means?  It just depends on who you ask.