by Danielle Desrosiers
Direct Care Supervisor, Survivor Outreach and Advocacy Services, YWCA Western Massachusetts
An open letter to the YWCA community and beyond:
I am writing to you as a member of our community and as someone who has had the privilege of working with survivors of sexual assault for the past five years. In those five years, I have experienced heartbreak, unbelievable pain and trauma beyond words, but most importantly I have experienced an unwavering strength that tethers it all together.
I have been a medical advocate for going on three years – a job I love; a job that has pulled me out of bed at 2 a.m.; that has pulled me from watching my favorite TV show or from spending time with my family, my partner, my friends; a job that has, time and time again, defined for me the true meaning of being a survivor.
Medical advocacy is only a part of the larger scope of being a rape crisis counselor. This particular component means that I am part of a 24-hour on-call rotation, 365 days a year. At the YWCA, we respond to five area hospitals whenever someone has identified as a sexual assault survivor. At the hospital, we are a sounding board, a support system, an information giver and above all: an advocate. We advocate for the survivor, in whatever way makes sense to them in their situation. We are there from start to finish, to hold hands, to explain processes, to sit in silence, to wait outside the room, and to just be there to listen. We are there.
We work with wonderful people: an equally-devoted SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurse team, emergency room nurses and doctors. We all work together to create a space for healing, for sadness and anger, for options.
I stumbled into working in this field my senior year of college, starting as an intern to complete a practicum for school. Five years later, I am still working in this field. Being a medical advocate changes the way you see the world, it changes the way you think about strength and, ultimately, it changes who you are. I invite you to take part in this change.
The YWCA Western Massachusetts is looking to add to its sexual assault medical advocate team. If you are someone looking for human service experience, for a volunteer opportunity, or for a way to give back, please contact: Danielle Desrosiers, Direct Care Supervisor, Survivor Outreach and Advocacy Services at 413.732.3121 x160 or DDesrosiers@ywworks.org.
Danielle Desrosiers has been with the YWCA of Western Massachusetts for three years and has been working with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence for five years. She is currently the supervisor of the Sexual Assault and Community Based Domestic Violence programs. Danielle has a passion for working with and advocating for survivors and has been an advocate for women’s rights for 28 years.
Cross-posted with permission from YWCA Western Massachusetts’ Facebook page.