Organisation’s name: Nia

Job title of employee: Women’s Advocate

Starting my role as a women’s advocate at 26 in East London, post completing my MSc and entering the VAWG sector for the first time was daunting but extremely exciting as well. I feel like I have learned so much in my first year in the role, and have always been so up for trying and doing any relevant training. But, when I saw the sexual violence training being offered by WGN I knew I had to do it because of how many clients I see who have experienced sexual violence at some point in their life, or more commonly, at repeated points throughout their lives (basically every client I have ever had).

I thought it would help me better respond to sexual violence disclosures and enable me to have better and more thoughtful conversations with my clients in this respect. I had already been working in my role for over 6 months by the time I did the training and that really helped in terms of being able to understand exactly how I could apply this training in my practice, as some training I have enjoyed but been quite new to the role so perhaps didn’t take as much as I could from the session.

With this training, split over two days, I took so much from it. I have a framework to work towards now in terms of sexual violence, the information needed in order to recognise disclosures even better, as well as practical steps on what to do and how to support recovery for my clients. It is an extremely hard topic and conversation to have and I never wanted to feel like I was prying when I asked questions about sexual violence to my clients. This training has helped so much with my confidence in broaching the subject because I now have practical solutions of how I can help and where I can also signpost women to as well.

The group doing the training and the trainer herself created such an empowering and non-judgemental environment and helped me to realise how I could do the same for my clients. The training has certainly meant that I am now a much better and more confident advocate; it allowed me to ask the hard questions and support the women I work with a much more directly supportive approach, but always led by the woman and what she is ready to share.

Furthermore, not only did it help with this, but it also helped me reflect on my own support that I have offered to friends and family when they have shared their experiences in the past, and I would certainly, change things about the way I would support friends and family in the future. This training has not only meant I have developed myself and my approach professionally but also on a personal level as well.