Renewal House: a Place of Learning, Empowerment,and Hope
This summer I have been given the incredible opportunity to serve as the SLU PIC intern to Renewal House, a non-profit organization that assists domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in St. Lawrence County. The organization offers numerous services to its clients such as referrals, accompaniment, support groups, children’s programs, prevention programming, legal services, crisis intervention, emotional support, safe housing, advocacy in the community and on local college campuses, and a 24/7 emergency hotline. All of this is done by a staff of eleven remarkable women who work tirelessly to support each client. Empowerment advocacy is the key method of support and intervention in the office. This is when the survivor acts as the expert and defines the critical issues while advocates support them through each step and enable them to reclaim power. While work in this field is certainly challenging, it has proven to be inspiring and eye-opening, and I truly love the work that I am doing.
My deep passion for feminism and belief in the importance of community and empowerment are what led me to pursue this internship. I wanted to learn about, discuss, and combat the horrifying fact that domestic violence and sexual assault occur everywhere and every day and can happen to any person, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status. This is hugely problematic and needs to be discussed. However, our society is failing to discuss it properly. Simply looking at the music industry makes this clear. For example, hits such as “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain” and “Love the Way You Lie”, or Bruno Mars most recent hit “That’s What I Like”, purvey ideas of unhealthy relationships, abuse, and domestic violence. It deeply troubles me that our society is talking about partner violence and rape in such ways, making it seem normal and acceptable to young people. If this continues, things will never change. I hope to dedicate my life to not only ending domestic violence and sexual assault as well as supporting survivors, but also to changing how we talk about these issues. Renewal House has proven to be the perfect place to do just that.
The work done at Renewal House is obviously filled with difficult and tragic situations, but what allows the job to be so inspiring and motivating is the incredible people who are working against such violence and the amazingly brave survivors we get to work with daily. While our community and world are filled with terrible acts of violence, there are incredible people out there who make these awful situations better. It is still early in my experience with Renewal House, but I have already learned a great deal, and I am anxious to continue to learn and grow in this position and to continue serving those who suffer from domestic violence and sexual assault in our community.