Now For Something Completely Different

I was at what I’ll call The Center (for victim’s privacy) from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and my head is spinning and I’m tired. There’s nothing uplifting about hearing how domestic violence, child abuse, and child sex cases are handled, but it’s amazing to see what resources are available and how all these highly qualified people go out of their way to make the experience the least awful it can be.

The Center provides services under one roof, that without it would cause the child  and non offending parent to have to go to six different locations to get various things done. Pretty much everything, from forensic interviews, medical examinations, all the way through the Grand Jury is done at The Center. Once there is an indictment, all events move downtown and they have different advocates there.

We heard from the local women’s abuse services, an experienced detective, and an assistant district attorney today. Every one of them was full of amazing information. It’s good to know that at least in my state (Oregon) laws are really tougher and sentences are longer than ever before on these types of cases. The only “3-strikes” rule Oregon has is for child sex cases. They refer to child sexual abuse cases as “child sex cases” which some readers may find offensive, but it is what it is.

We watched a forensic interview with what looked like a (at most) four year old boy talking about hearing his mother get beaten up by her partner. It was amazing how articulate he was. They have special interview rooms that are decorated in an age appropriate manner.

We heard actual phone calls from jail from the accused to his spouse. All phone calls from jail are recorded and many are listened to. They are told many times that their phone calls are not private, but they say things they shouldn’t anyway. Everything they say can be used against them, and is.

I am the oldest volunteer in this group, and the other six women are all embarking on careers in social services or law enforcement and I wish I were them because it’s an amazing world to be a part of. And I see now why Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit has always fascinated me.

I am still quite nervous that I will not pass the background check and that I’ll be in for some embarrassment. They probably will not have the results until Tuesday which is the next day of training. If I find out that I can’t pass a background check due to me being nuts for so long, I’ll be so disappointed. Again, I’ve never committed a crime, but I have attempted suicide many times. The supervisor said you never know what will show up on a background check. I’ll be nervous until that is behind me.

It was so weird to be doing something for a full nine hours. I’m glad to have the weekend so that I’m not completely overwhelmed.

I got a quick tour as the day ended and saw shelves filled with beautiful, colorful quilts. I’m told that they are given to older kids and teens who need a medical examination. They said they put the quilt down on the table and then the paper over that, so that the child feels special with their own quilt to take home. The younger children take home teddy bears that have also been made in town by the quilting group. I was explaining that to my parents and began to cry. I did read yesterday that the exams are noninvasive, thank goodness.

I don’t know if I can do this or not, but I’m just going to keep moving forward with it until I know. I have heard that the courthouse does have their own advocates, so if I would prefer that environment, I can also explore that.

The advocate volunteers basically shadow the paid staff or experienced volunteer as they do their job interacting with the victim and their families until they feel comfortable to take on their own case. Depending on how much shadowing you are able to do, it can take months until you’re ready to do it on your own. That’s why volunteers are so precious there.

I understand that their funding requires them to use volunteers.

The most challenging part today was listening to the women’s abuse facility talk about spousal abuse. It’s a place I have used a couple of times in the last year as I tried to leave my husband on my own. It reminded me, without a doubt, that I was a victim of abuse and that my husband is a master at it. She spoke of women being brainwashed and I knew I was also brainwashed and I still am.

I thought to myself that if he hadn’t finally cast me aside, I probably never would have been able to be rid of him since he always pursued me relentlessly. Interesting that someone else came along and took his complete attention which got me out of a situation I was not able to get out of on my own. Even though it hurt, it’s probably for the best, no matter how it happened. I’m left wondering if he ever cared for me, which is a sad place to be.

I felt crappy today again, I guess I’ve got a head cold. It’s just as well I didn’t swim yesterday or today, but I am going to make myself go tomorrow.

I hope this subject matter isn’t too much for any readers I have. I doubt I will go into much detail in the future as I am absolutely sworn to secrecy about actual cases. Also, if I am accepted into the program I will be required, as a representative of the District Attorney’s office, to report any case of child abuse I might suspect. If I don’t, I can get arrested. It’s something they’ve put into place to hopefully prevent cases from slipping through the cracks.

I feel that if I pass the background check, that this world, or the world of law enforcement in general, will be a part of my future.

Looking forward to swimming tomorrow!

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4 responses to “Now For Something Completely Different

  1. That sounds like a very rewarding and interesting place to do voluntary work. I work with children, (as a nurse), many who have had/do have difficult lives and it can be harrowing at times. Good training and support helps you cope with the difficult side of the job. It’s a good feeling when I know I’ve made a positive difference in a young persons life.

  2. Thanks for sharing- that sounds like an amazing thing to be involved in. Social services are so important and I would think a very rewarding thing to be able to help these people.

  3. I think so too, Cynthia. I sure hope it all works out.

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