In today's episode, Cory and Becca chat with Maya Renee, WCA Client Advocate. Maya's talks about what keeps her going, her expertise with direct client services and the importance of support.
If you or someone you care about have experienced domestic, dating or sexual violence please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or one of the WCA's 24-hour hotlines at 208-343-7025 or 208-345-7273.
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Welcome to what compassion accomplishes a podcast dedicated to sharing information, ideas and resources about domestic abuse and sexual assault. The topics discussed in this podcast, including survivor stories, supportive services, and domestic abuse or sexual violence can be difficult, and we urge you to listen with care. Our hosts are not licensed counselors or mental health professionals. If you or someone you care about have experienced domestic dating, or sexual violence, please call the WCA 24 hour hotline at 208-343-7025 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 You can also find more resources in the description of this podcast.Cory Mikhals:
Hi this is Cory Mikhals once again, along with Becca Maguire, Outreach Specialist with The women and children's Alliance. Becca Hello. Hi, Cory, how are you? I am wonderful. And we're honored to have in the studio this time we have Maya Renee, Client Advocate, with the WCA. How are you? I am Wonderful. Thank you. Well, thank you so much for coming down here and taking a take a little time in the studio with me. Your studios beautiful. I love the design. Now, you've been with the WCA for quite a while. What nine years?Maya Renee:
Yeah, yeah. A um. Gosh, started in 2012.Cory Mikhals:
What? What got you What got you started.Maya Renee:
I actually started when I was 18. In Montana. I'm originally from Montana. And I had a friend whose mom worked at the local YWCA. And I was coming back from my first year of college. And she just said, Hey, you know, we have this position that was open. And it was for an advocate position. And I just loved it. I feel like it just sucked me in. And it was just kind of my calling, everything felt really natural. And I just felt really passionately about the work and assisting assisting that population.Cory Mikhals:
Now did you? Did you have experience from your younger days that that drew you towards that this work?Maya Renee:
Um, no, not so much like I have. Yeah, I think that I had witnessed, you know, unhealthy relationships. I was very lucky and blessed to have two parents that raised me and, you know, stayed together until my father passed last year, but I definitely witnessed a lot of the influencers that do run synonymously with domestic violence and sexual assault. So, um, you know, that could be anything just financial, you know, your financial status, substance abuse, you know, things like that. So I had witnessed a lot of that growing up, but not in my, my home.Cory Mikhals:
Thank goodness, yeah, I know, me as well. But I was very blessed in that regard. But now for you, what, what keeps you going? Now, all these years later, nine years later, and, and seeing and experiencing all the things that you have in that time? What keeps you going? Hmm.Maya Renee:
I'm a strong believer in leaning into difficult things. And there is a want and a need to assist in this in this population. I feel like it's ongoing. And especially like with the pandemic, you'll see like, the numbers just increase, I feel like there's always just some, something that happens that is just, it just continues to suck you in and says there's a need here. So lean into it. You know, I think it's extremely rewarding. I have to say like, my soft spot is definitely the children, you know, and being able to work in the shelter and see the growth of the children while they're there is really huge for me, especially after becoming a mother and just seeing like, I mean, we had one instance where a child was probably I'd say, maybe a year and a half or so and still crawling and after being in this Shelter within the first couple of weeks was walking, you know, just being able to be a child and be independent and, you know, secure. So yeah, absolutely feel secure. And so, um, the children just tug at my heartstrings in a in a huge way. Also just seeing the women and seeing them blossom and grow. I'm seeing them when they find their voice, you know, because there's definitely a, there's definitely a time where you see them open up and find their voice and you're like, there it is, you know, yeah, she's representing herself, or they're representing themselves. And I think that's cool.Cory Mikhals:
Yeah. And I'm sure you've seen it a lot too. That is, well, I know I have and working with, with families in different nonprofits and, and shelters and organizations over the years, the kids when they'll come in, and, and a big thing that I've seen in these situations is fear. They just look scared to death, and they're trembling. Or they don't have any emotion, it's like they have just shut down in order to deal with whatever they're dealing with. And then getting to and unfortunately, you know, with what I do and have done over the years, I don't get to see that every day, I don't get to see them. But I love the ones that I do get to see down the road after they have gotten to the other side. And that lifeless child, all of a sudden has color to their cheeks, and their eyes are bright. And they're a kid, I think, you know, they're actually able to be a kid again, the ones that were scared and trembling. And you know, we're standing behind Mom, you know, holding on to the leg barely peeking behind the leg, are now coming out of their shell, because they don't have that fear anymore. What's going to happen? What if I say this? What if I make this noise? You know, what's going to happen to mommy, or what's going to happen to me. And, man, that is the coolest thing right there is seeing that on the kids and seeing them all of a sudden become or at least beyond the path of being healthy and happy and be able to just have their biggest worry, be what what cartoon, they're going to watch after homework, not what's going to happen, you know, when, when mom or dad or whatever, get home from work? Or, you know, are they gonna wake up? Angry today? Now, no kid should have to worry about any of those things. You know, they shouldn't be able to be kids. I don't want to eat my brussels sprouts Mom, you know, that should be the abuse that a child, you know, that was the biggest abuse I had as a kid. Yes, you will your brussels sprouts.Maya Renee:
But in times you see children who want to care for their parents, you know? And it's like, it's okay. Like, this is not your, you don't have to do that. You know, and I think that, you know, going back to your question of something else that does keep me there is looking at the overall structure that we have just in society. So, you know, you may have a client who comes in who's a survivor of domestic violence and comes from a controlling environment, may have may not have a strong job history, you know, because they may have lost several jobs, you know, due to harassment or domestic violence. They may have been evicted from their home, because they've had to call the police due to domestic violence or something of that sort. And then they're put into, you know, they come voluntarily into the shelter, and we want to assist them, but also keeping in mind that if they have three children, they have a poor, you know, job history. I mean, finding childcare, you know, we are lucky enough that we do have a childcare within the shelter that assists, which is amazing, they do such great work. But say, you know, when they transition out, and if they have a job that may be paying like 10 bucks an hour, which is above minimum wage, you know, or even if they they get a great job, that $15 an hour and you have three children and you have to pay for childcare, you know, it's no less than 800 bucks a month, you know, and then finding housing. You know, how do you really truly advance you know, how do you crawl out of that and you see that it's almost like, you want to be there, and you have to be there. And you have to show up, because who else is going to for these individuals, and when you see the defeat on their face, when they've done everything, when they get up, when they show up to their programming, you know, to counseling to case management, they have, you know, they can't find housing, they can't find childcare, their child gets sick, they have to go pick up their child transportation, they may have to, they may only have a bus, you know, bus system to rely on, you know, it's a lot, it is a lot and how do you not throw up your hands? You know, it's, it's so muchCory Mikhals:
well, and, and it's that, that feeling of relief and hope of having finally gotten out of that situation. But then yes, after that initial joy and relief is over, then it's the reality of Okay, now, it's, yeah, it's making those next steps. And when you have, you know, at least that, like, the WCA, and hopefully, even if you don't have that family or a lot of friends as a network, you do have the wonderful folks that WCA to help guide you, but it's still, it's tough. And if you don't see that immediate success, it's immediate, it's easy to just fall back emotionally into that dark place. And then you start making bad decisions of going back to maybe not the same person. But that might as well be. Yeah. And they just get right back into the cycle.Maya Renee:
Yeah, absolutely. And it does take on an average of like, up to seven times before somebody actually leaves and stays away. And a lot of times, they're doing that all alone, you know, and I mean, they've burnt bridges have sort of speak with family members, family members. And that's one thing that even if somebody exits the program, and it's their choice, we always make sure that they know like, we're always here for you. I, I don't care if she's saying she's gonna go back to her abuser, like, you know, we're here for you, you know, like, no matter what, because they have to know that. And I think that as far as advocates, we have such an amazing team. I mean, our advocates, one thing that I love is they're just the compassion and the empathy. We know that this is not our story. And even though we have all the tools in our toolbox, like, it's up to our clients to show up and say, like, I'm ready to heal, and when we, we will assist them through their healing at their own pace. And I think that, it's important to know that they host their story, we're just an audience, we're showing up for it, we're here for it. And we want to hear what they need, or what they feel like they need because it's just been stripped from them. And sometimes they don't, they don't know, because they haven't had a voice. You know, so we just want to guide them and walk alongside them. And assist them and I think healthy boundary for us is I kind of feel like it is I feel like it's kind of like we're a gas station or electronic, you know, charge station for your vehicle because we don't know where their journey goes afterwards. Right? But we can give them the compassion, the tools, the love the nurturing, while they're there, to feel them up just a little bit longer to go further. You know, and because I think when I first started, I had such a hard time, like, I was like, Oh my gosh, you know, I would stay up at night and like help those kids are okay, you know, but that can really take a toll Oh yeah, really take a toll on you. And so just having those boundaries and, and understanding like you do everything you can while they're here without overwhelming them with your tools and saying I can fix this. Let me do this. Here's what you have to do. Check this out. I have a plan. You know, like, because that's what you want to do. But healing is so individual. So and sometimes it takes three or four times coming in and out of the program until somebody is like I'm really ready.Cory Mikhals:
Okay, Well and the closest thing I can equate this to but I think this was an appropriate analogy years ago when I was trying to quit smoking and I failed again and went into my doctor and she was like so how you doing on the quit smoking? Well, you know this happened this happened and I you know bought another pack. She goes Okay, she goes, you try to quit as many times as it takes, because the only way you're not going to quit is if you quit trying. Right? And so she goes, eventually one of those times, it's going to stick. Yeah. And it's going to work. And so that I think that's really a good analogy for this as well. You know, you only are defeated, you only are done if you quit trying to quit. Yeah, and or in that can be as simple as thinking about it. You know, maybe starting to formulate a plan in your head or thinking about that person, you can call or the WCA, or the national hotline, or whoever or whatever that that happens to be in in your head while you're thinking about this map. That's still trying. Yeah. Because you're thinking about that other side?Maya Renee:
Yeah. I, you know, I think it's really important also to, you know, as they are, if they choose to go back to their abuser, or to leave for us to ask, like, okay, you know, and what, what is pulling you to go back, just to just to know, you know, and say, Okay, well, you know, I hear you, and I understand that, that's how you're feeling. Because I, one of the strengths I feel of being part of the WCA for so long, is understanding the impact of just like generational cycles. And the reason why our community is so amazing, and they're so generous, but they are so needed, like the donations, the assistance, the help, the contribution, the volunteering, it's so needed, because this is generational, you know, I have seen mothers go through the program. And a couple years later, you know, you see their daughter, go through the program, you know, this is a, this is a community crisis, you know, that we're dealing with. And so asking those questions, when they leave is so important, because then we're able to, you know, if they do come back into the program, and they're struggling, and when we identify a trigger point and say, Okay, well, this is what happened last time when you left, right, so what are some things we can do to strengthen that point, if you feel like that's a weak spot for you? You know, I think that's helpful of having the longer tenure of you know, working with the WCA has been able to help those those readmitting clients.Cory Mikhals:
Now, Becca, once again, you know, we if someone's in that situation, what do they need to do right right now,Becca Maguire:
they just need to know that there is help available there is someone here for you in Boise and the Treasure Valley area, the WCA is here and if you're local our hotline is 208-343-7025 call that number even if you're not ready to leave and you're just kind of curious of what are your options please give that hotline a call and know that there's different options availableCory Mikhals:
well and and someone can stay anonymous. So if you aren't ready to leave quite yet yeah. But you just need someone to talk to you need and you don't feel like you have anyone else that you can safely have the conversation with you can safely have that conversation with the with the WCA if you're outside the area in the description, there's the national hotline number. So no matter where you're listening because of the podcast, we have people that will listen all over the world. There are organizations just like the WCA, that care that they have the love, the compassion and the strength, even if you don't have the strength yet. They have enough strength for both of you. Yeah, to get through this and get you the tools that you need to put in your toolkit to build your future area. Ladies, thank you so much. Thank you, Cory. And now Maya you're not off completely, because coming up not not this episode, but I want to have an episode coming up where we talk about because Becca just gave me this fabulous article that you've wrote on the impacts of violence on women of color. Yes. So I wanted to have you back in. And that's that's such an important topic. That I don't want to just bury that here at the end of this one. I want us to be able to spend the whole time talking about that if that's okay, I would love that.Becca Maguire:
I would too so I put together our newsletter and when I read Maya's article, it is so beautifully written is truthful, it is it really tugged at my heartstrings, and it's a very well done article. And it is a very incredibly poignant piece. And it is such an important thing that we do need to discuss.Cory Mikhals:
I thought it was beautiful. We'll make sure that the link is in the description here. So you can do do a little homework before our podcast coming up. But we'll do that on the impacts of violence on women of color, Maya. Thank you. Thank you and Becca, thank you as always thank you, and we will chat again on the next episode of what compassion accomplishes. Awesome.Intro:
Thank you for listening to this episode of what compassion accomplishes. Again, if you or someone you know has experienced domestic abuse, dating or sexual violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or the WCA's 24 hour hotline. (208) 343-7025