A new t-shirt was designed exclusively BARCC by the women-owned apparel company, Mer+ge. Mer+ge works to promote self-expression and unity through their clothing designs. The company wants to create “political, social, and biological messages to demonstrate that gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc are things that do not necessarily define us, but are rather just one part of who we are.” Their CEO, Victoria Johnson, used BARCC’s mission of Healing and Social Change as inspiration for the current design. According to Ms. Johnson, the design was to reflect the necessity of each individual “being heard and understood [and] in order to be heard, you have to have two lines of communication. One ready to speak and the other ready to listen.”
Here at BARCC, we try to exemplify this ability to speak and listen throughout the work we do and the volunteer programs that we have. The message and necessity of two lines of communication runs through our three volunteer programs, Hotline, Medical Advocacy (MedAd), and Community Awareness and Prevention Services (CAPS). All three programs provide very different services but are interconnected through BARCC’s overall mission.
The BARCC Hotline operates 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and depends heavily on the volunteers to ensure that all these shifts are covered. In the 2010 calendar year, 2,972 hotline calls were answered which factors out to approximately 8 calls per day. Hotline counselors answer calls from survivors, significant others, and providers. They provide crisis counseling, resources and referrals, if needed, to other organizations or to BARCC counseling. As one volunteer said, “so many times survivors and significant others aren’t heard or understood…our main goal is to provide an environment where the caller is listened to and understood.” Oftentimes, survivors may not have a support network, have not received a positive response when disclosing to friends or family members, or not disclosed to anyone. It can be very difficult for a survivor to call a stranger on the Hotline and talk about such sensitive and personal experiences. Therefore, it is critical for Hotline counselors to be ready to hear what the survivors say so that they know what the main concerns and needs are for each individual and be able to appropriately respond.
MedAd also operates 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and is dependent on volunteers to respond to hospitals in the Boston area to support survivors who have recently been assaulted and are undergoing the forensic exam. In the calendar year of 2010, MedAd counselors responded to 338 cases, which is almost one per day. MedAd counselors provide information about what to expect during and after the forensic exam, who all the different players are, and assisting with emotional and moral support throughout the entire process, which lasts four hours on average. According to a MedAd volunteer, it is essential to “[meet] survivors where they’re at…[and] to listen to what they tell us about what’s happening for them at that moment.” MedAd volunteers need to be aware of how the survivor is feeling at that specific moment but also pick up on cues of whether the survivor will be safe when they leave the hospital. This would not be feasible without intently listening and hearing what each survivor is saying and answering questions and following up on concerns.
The CAPS program provides educational trainings and workshops throughout the Boston area to schools, colleges, DV agencies, youth workers, and other community organizations. Volunteers facilitate engagements mainly in the evenings and on the weekends. The curriculum varies from how to respond to disclosures of sexual assault to bystander intervention methods to consent and heavily depends on the contributions and participation of audience members as many of the workshops are interactive. One of the CAPS volunteers stated “a lot of the work we do in CAPS is about starting conversation…and by listening to one another and having their own voices heard, people can begin to question some of the ways we’re socialized to think about relationships, sex, violence, and power.” Societal norms and viewpoints do not change overnight but rather require many in depth conversations to identify where misperceptions arise and how they can be addressed. In order to deliver an effective presentation, CAPS volunteers must be able to listen to the needs and thoughts of the audience and communicate the workshop in a way that resonates.
Please check out this t-shirt and our new pendant on our website. Both make great gifts. Proceeds benefit the services we provide and it’s a great way to show your support all year round!
Written by: Stacey