anti-violence workers

Dear Anti-Violence Workers,
We know how much you care. We see you working tirelessly to support survivors and your dedication to creating safe and healthy communities free from violence is inspiring. We know how hard it can be to do this work, and we understand the challenges you face— especially if you're not getting the support you need from your organization. 
We've compiled recommendations to navigate these challenges along with specific resources that can help:

1. Seek peer support: In the advocacy journey, connecting with peers can be invaluable. We can all use some extra support sometimes. Connect with like-minded advocates through virtual platforms to vent, get support, and learn about resources.

2. Power in Numbers: In addition to finding support amongst your peers online, having support in person, both within and outside of your workplace, is important. Building community support not only helps you, but it also creates a support system for others who are suffering. Burdens are much easier to carry when we share them. Ask for help when you need it. Lean on your community and existing community resources when you need them. That’s why they exist in the first place.

3. Leave work AT work: Establish clear boundaries between your professional and personal life. Unless compensated for being on-call, your personal time should be free from work-related activities. Keep work emails off your personal phone—if they want you available at all times, ensure they're compensating you for being on-call and covering your phone bill. Ensure that if you step outside these boundaries, there's a written agreement for additional compensation.

4. Rest: Having a community is what lets you take a break when you need it. We all need to rest, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about it. But rest is more than just a nap or setting boundaries. It's about resisting grind culture and embracing personal liberation.

5. Use your benefits: Take care of yourself, and don't forget to utilize your Paid Time Off (PTO)! Your well-being matters, and PTO is a crucial part of your compensation package. Remember, if you're not taking your paid time off, you're essentially giving away your valuable time for free. Explore the resources available to you, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). There might be free therapy sessions that can contribute to your overall well-being.

6. Decolonize your mind: There are so many ways that colonization has completely skewed our priorities and values as a society and as individuals. Challenging and changing those bigoted and exclusionary thought patterns both within ourselves and within society is key to creating a future of equity and community. Recognize and change thought patterns that perpetuate inequality and exclusion. Decolonizing your mind is not just about how you see and treat others, though. It’s also about how you see and treat yourself. It’s about embracing community care and prioritizing your own needs above those of the corporate world. Audre Lorde wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

7. Know your rights: It’s important to understand labor laws and be familiar with your employment contract and code of conduct. If you have concerns, raise them with organizational leadership. Document everything, especially if you're experiencing harm. Your well-documented experiences can be valuable if you need to address issues in the future.

8. Find a resolution, but only if you want to: If you want to stay at your job but are dealing with ongoing issues, determine if it's possible to find a resolution. There are always going to be challenges at work, but don’t feel pressured to participate in some kind of malignant power structure that only serves to silence those who would stand up for themselves and others. Remember, decisions should align with what feels right for you.

9. Use your advocacy skills: There's strength in numbers—consider advocating as a group. People can take turns challenging leadership, raising concerns, or submitting reports to the Board. Unionizing is a potential next step that can be a powerful tool for collective action— but only if that feels right for you and your co-workers. Regardless of what tactics you use, remember that there is strength in unity.

10. Ultimately, do what’s best for you: Your well-being is non-negotiable. Prioritize your needs over organizational demands.  If you’re considering leaving your job, you’re not alone. Ultimately, you have to do what is best for you, and sometimes that means leaving an environment that no longer serves you. There are other ways to serve your community outside of your job. Your physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as your family's, should be the main priority. We recognize that not everyone has the financial resources to quit a job, but we also realize that some are being forced to make this awful choice whether they have the resources or not. The best thing you can do is try to be prepared.

We all know how important your work is. You change lives on a daily basis and give power back to those it has been stolen from. You deserve adequate support from your organizations to make sure you can continue this work in a way that is healthy and thriving. You are the reason we started We Deserve Better because YOU deserve better than this.
You are valid, you are seen, you are not alone.

The We Deserve Better Project Team

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