By Lily Ung
When we think about domestic violence survivors, many tend to conjure images of the women (and perhaps men) that were abused by their partner. However, APWC recognizes that oftentimes the biggest victims of domestic violence are also the smallest. Children who witness or experience violence in the home may have difficulties expressing their emotions or speaking about their experiences, complicating their healing process. Multiple studies have shown that memories are imprinted on the human brain permanently, and experiencing violence severely affects the development of the child exposed. Children who have experienced domestic violence may have difficulties learning, interacting with peers or show aggressive behavior. Cases of domestic violence often overlap with cases of child abuse, which complicates the healing process even more.
Children’s activity volunteers are crucial to APWC’s mission not only because they allow our mom survivors to attend counseling and case management appointments, but also because they become a part of the children’s lives and healing process. Children’s activity volunteers who interact with the same kids and youth on a regular basis often become akin to their peer mentors.
If you are interested in learning more about working with children who have been exposed to domestic violence, we’re always in need of children’s activity volunteers! For a glimpse of how volunteering with the kids at APWC can be like, read Lily Ung's story below:
Fresh out of college, diploma in hand, and the dreaded question: where do I start? All I knew was that I wanted to help people and thus, began my research. Domestic violence was not something I initially had in mind; it sat on the backburner of my subconscious. That was until I came across the APWC website.
Domestic violence, especially in the Asian and Pacific Islander community, is something that rarely gets talked about due to fear of being threatened and judged. The lack of resources and support is a huge problem when it comes to abuse and that’s when I knew I wanted to contribute. While I do not directly interact with the mothers, I volunteer as a children’s activities coordinator.
Before APWC, I rarely volunteered with kids and have never babysat so my experience in childcare was minimal. However, anxiousness and inexperience did not get in the way. I learned valuable skills and responsibilities, ones that are different when applied to children. Active learning played a big part in my experience. It is important that both the children and I get as much out of our bi-weekly meetings. I learned to do active listening--giving my full attention to the children and listening to what they have to say. Often kids’ remarks are brushed off since “they’re just kids.” But not so surprisingly, these remarks offer insight as to who they are, where they come from and what they are thinking. Critical thinking and quick problem-solving is crucial in such an environment where kids are involved. I try to implement social perceptiveness when the children speak the way they do to one another.
My volunteer experience with APWC was beneficial because childcare was new to me and I even ended up feeling a connection with the kids. I felt lost in the beginning, but through perseverance and support from the volunteer coordinator I was able to meet new people, gain experience, and best of all, watch the kids grow.
“You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man.” - Seth Parker
“We are not put on this earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you." - Jeff Warner
Volunteering, no matter how tough it starts out, ends up being rewarding. It provides you with so many opportunities that you cannot find elsewhere. It gives you a chance to meet different people. It’s cliché to say “you get what you give” but it’s true. I have gotten so much out of volunteering. It’s nothing materialistic either; it’s something I can cherish for the rest of my life. The best part about volunteering is that volunteering it’s a win-win. You get to help others and that results in positive emotions that enhance your psychological and physical resilience.
Written by Camille Chuaquico
Monday, 01 February 2016 00:00