Abuse Victim Advocate has become an official title for a person who comes alongside a victim of abuse and helps them to recover wholeness in body & soul.
When I started this work over 30 years ago, to my knowledge, there was not a formal term for a person doing what I was doing. I was simply helping people who had problems.
I don’t know how I missed it back then, but I didn’t see that the common trait among all the people I helped was childhood abuse. Only after some time, extensive research, and many reviews of my client notes did I begin to see the patterns.
Today, the patterns, common characteristics, and symptoms of abuse victims are well understood. 30 years ago this knowledge was still developing. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) was not commonly referred to, nor was the depth of harm it represented.
It has taken longer and been more complicated to assess and understand how PTSD functions within the people I help. This is true because I work with Christian, church-going adults who have been abused as children. The culture of the Church can sometimes contribute to the confusion surrounding PTSD and its victims; and that is both sad and bewildering to many. That said, today I fully understand all aspects of the causes, effects, and people involved on all sides.
Historically, adult Christians with many of the symptoms of unresolved trauma due to childhood abuse, do not realize their issues are related to their abuse. Nor do many church leaders fully grasp the problem. In the past, church people with these kinds of problems were told to do certain things to remedy their issues, and little more was understood, tolerated, or practiced.
Fortunately, the Church, at large, has progressed with a greater understanding of abuse and the fallout in people’s lives. However, most of that progress has been within the Christian counseling community. While that is a good report, there is still much misunderstanding on the part of victims of abuse and church leadership. In that gap is where I function as an Abuse Victim Advocate.
To understand more, I suggest reading these articles: