Renewing Life at Renewal House
What comes to mind when you think about a domestic abuse relationship? I know the first thought I had was of a husband hitting and physically assaulting his wife and children. What about sexual assault, maybe a college frat boy taking advantage of a drunken freshman? After being at Renewal House for almost five weeks now, I know it is so much more. Abuse comes in so many forms, mental, emotional, physical, financial, and sexual, and no matter the form Renewal House can aid in the situation. Before beginning my internship at Renewal House I thought that it was mainly a counseling center that could provide numbers to other helpful resources in the area, but again it is so much more than that.
At Renewal House, the advocates are not certified New York State mental health counselors, therefore the counseling that takes place is peer to peer, designed to empower victims to get back on their feet and escape the abuse that plagues their life. At Renewal House, we also provide our victims with accompaniment and advocacy to court, police stations, Department of Social Services, and almost any place that they feel they need some backing and support. While we do not always have the right to voice our opinions in these accompaniment situations, we do get the honor of advocating for our client if they ask us to do so. Therefore on a day to day basis you could be speaking to the Sheriff’s office, the New York State Troopers, an attorney, and even DSS.
Furthering our resources, we also provide child care and child counseling. Many adults believe that children are not affected by abuse if they do not see it, but that is far from the truth. Those little eyes and ears are always seeing and listening. You may not see them at the top of the stairs, but they are there; you may not think you are being loud enough to be heard, but the walls are not as thick as you may think. We teach children how to be safe, that their body is theirs, and how to healthily express the powerful emotions they are feeling.
Even though in my interview I was told I would be utilized just as any other advocate, I don’t think I fully realized what that encompassed. In my first few days I began to answer phones, dealing with a crisis call the first time I answered, sitting in on emotional support counseling session, and transporting clients wherever they may need. Now in week five, I even have some clients that I see weekly and get to provide emotional support to as well as provide with any resources they may need.
I know when you look at the house at 3 Chapel Street in Canton, NY it may not look like much, but there is so much knowledge, love, strength, and power inside. Anyone who has experienced domestic abuse or sexual assault in St. Lawrence County should know Renewal House is an option, and we are always here for them whether that is 8am-5pm during office hours or from 5pm-8am on call. I am so honored that I get to be a part of this amazing organization for another five weeks with SLU PIC.