Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Awareness at an Early Age—My Journey to Becoming a DV Advocate

It seems as if I’ve been a DV advocate all my life. I’ve never been shy to speak up against violence or demeaning behavior towards anyone. I often wonder and I’m often asked why I am passionate about the anti-DV movement, as I have no personal connection with this issue. I have never witnessed domestic violence and I’m very grateful to say that I’ve never been in a violent situation either, so why am I so passionate about ending DV? When I think about this, I always think back to the time I was 14 years old....

When I was 14 a DV organization came to my school to bring DV awareness to 8th graders. They talked about how women and young children go through difficult adjustment periods after suffering from domestic violence. That was the first time I felt like I needed to help someone who I didn’t even know. I remember going up to them after their presentation and asking them if I could volunteer in some way. I was told I was too young and to come back when I was older. I hated being too young to make a difference, too young to help someone in need. Is there really an age for that? As an adult and an advocate I now know the risks and liabilities of involving young kids, but I was an ‘old’ young kid and really wanted to do something. I truly wish I had found a way around the system, made a difference, or even tried to make a difference on my own scale, but I didn’t. I just waited to be old enough.

As a teenager I wanted to volunteer at shelters, but because of privacy issues I couldn’t find any in my area. So, I waited some more. In college I interned at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. This really opened my eyes to what I could do to make a difference. This internship made me realize my life goals as a non-profit professional and DV advocate. I knew I had to raise awareness for this cause so I became a walking, un-hired PR person for this cause. I’d talk to anybody that would listen and anybody that wouldn’t listen about DV and I loved every minute of it!

Now, with DCCADV, I have an opportunity to do something about DV. It is a passion and will be for the rest of my life. All of this is because someone tapped into my emotions at the age of 14. I have always thought youth advocacy is really important. Some schools whole-heartedly participated in Purple Thursday by wearing purple. Here at DCCADV, we were touched to see the sea of purple in pictures. Do you think reaching out to kids at this age will make a difference? Will we end this cycle of abuse with the next generation? What do you think we can do to engage youth in our cause? 

~Saira Saim 
Department of Communications and Organizational Advancement


  1. This struck a chord with me. It makes you wonder if some advocates are born and others created. Sexual or domestic violence are the toughest situations that people can face. Yet, not everyone becomes a survivor or an advocate. Thanks for the thought provoking article.

  2. Thanks for your comment! Yes, I do wonder that sometimes, I guess some people are just sensitive to their surroundings and need a little push like I got. It's the same thing for other causes. I have friends that are passionate about things that thankfully have nothing to do with their personal lives like human trafficking!~Saira

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