Maria Aranibar and Michael Teeven are two of REACH’s newest summer interns. This past June, they completed REACH’s first-ever virtual Summer Training Institute over Zoom. We asked them a few questions to reflect on their experience.
Reflecting on training, what is one aspect that stood out to you?
Maria: One of the aspects I really appreciated about the training was that it centered voices in the conversations surrounding domestic violence and LGBTQ rights. On one of the first days of training, we talked about the LGBTQ movement and those presenting were really transparent how they were a majority white organization, but serve minority communities. I found this to be especially important to note and it stuck with me throughout the rest of the training. REACH is doing more than just providing resources to survivors – they are acknowledging their white privilege and finding ways to dismantle oppressive systems.
How did the history of the DV Movement impact you?
Maria: This was a very insightful part of the training because I came in knowing very little about the movement or how it began. A video was shown about the history of the domestic violence movement, and the presenter was actively centering BIPOC in the history of the movement. Historically, women of color are often pushed to the margins and not acknowledged for what they accomplish in these movements, while their white counterparts take credit for their advocacy efforts. In this video, the presenter revealed how women of color have combated anti-blackness and racism within the domestic violence movement.
How was self-care emphasized as an important part of advocacy?
Maria: The presenters in training really took the time to talk about how to take care of yourself and self-care. Self-care is known to be a radical act while being active in advocacy. Women of color and communities of color are often taught to work for survival and work until you have reached burnout and that self-care is framed as a form of privilege or laziness. However, the presenters framed self-care as an act of and self-love that is a form of healing in order to continue to take action in advocacy and avoid burnout.
Looking back at your training, is there anything specific you would like to bring up?
Michael: The training was a pivotal point in my life. Though that may sound like hyperbole, it truly was. I was fortunate enough to be a part of REACH’s first zoom training, and I think they did a fantastic job transitioning from in-person to virtual. I learned more than I ever thought I could in a week, and it made me realize how much more I have to learn. The scope of the training was vast and covered multitudes of topics that include but not limited to: the LGBTQ community, racism, privilege, the impact of DV on children, and the many ugly ways DV rears its ugly head (financial, physical, mental). The accessibility of information and the way they broke down the information was very effective.
How was being the only male in the group for you?
Michael: I was the only male in a group of twenty-plus women and I was fully cognizant that men are often the abusers in a relationship. In its entire truth, this made me feel awkward and out of place among my fellow zoomers. While this is not typically a topic or issue that gets discussed among my peer group, I realize how important it is for men to be a part of this conversation and solution.
I felt uncomfortable at the time, and in retrospect, that’s a good thing. These conversations aren’t easy, and people tend to avoid what’s uncomfortable, but that’s a part of the process. People tend to shy away from such topics, but people need to sit with that and take it in to grow as an individual. Whether the issue is DV, racism, etc. these are uncomfortable topics, as they should be, and I realize we need to force ourselves out of our shell and have these dialogues because that’s the beginning of real change.
Is there anything you wish to do with your newfound training and knowledge?
Michael: I would like to have more conversations about these topics with my peers and friends. I want to open a dialogue with my male peers and ask why we aren’t as conscious of these topics as we should be. My hope is that i can help raise awareness around the importance of healthy relationships, mutual respect, and communication