17 Mar Squad Gives Back: La Casa De Las Madres
By Emily Leach
A majority of our time at LaunchSquad is spent telling stories, simplifying complicated concepts, and creating compelling frameworks from previously unfamiliar ideas. Still, it can be difficult to tackle the stories that are the hardest and most painful to tell. Occasionally, they are simply left untold.
A group of us in San Francisco recently visited La Casa De Las Madres, a domestic violence shelter that strives to create a community that upholds a zero tolerance policy on any type of assault against women and children. La Casa De Las Madres maintains their physical shelter as well as several 24/7 hotlines for survivors of abuse seeking help or advice, while also working with communities to get to the root of abuse through education and public awareness. Through emotional and material support, the organization empowers survivors to help them make important, and often difficult, decisions.
La Casa De Las Madres’ offices, though simple and unassuming, were filled with a sense of warmth that emanated from the employees cheerful smiles and their palpable commitment to the organization’s mission. Before we got started, our group was given a short presentation covering all of the incredible services La Casa De Las Madres offers. We were informed that domestic violence is significantly more pervasive than most people think. While the forms and tools of abuse can vary between different communities, domestic violence affects people of every socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexuality. Our host emphasized that perpetrators of abuse are motivated by power and control, and that their behavior is learned. Although it is incredibly heartbreaking that aggressors have been taught that domestic violence is acceptable, it’s reassuring to learn that fighting back, even in small ways, can make a big difference for future generations.
Volunteers who work directly with survivors must receive at least 40 hours of training, so the LaunchSquad team’s few hours of work was accomplished behind-the-scenes. Our humble, but rewarding task for the afternoon was to decorate journals that will be given to survivors who come to the shelter. The goal is to encourage them to express themselves and practice self-care. We covered the plain black and white journals with bright construction paper, images clipped from magazines, fun stickers, glitter, and inspiring quotes. Two hours passed in the blink of an eye.
As our group prepared to leave, we added informational pamphlets to each journal that detailed resources available to survivors. We also included nail files with La Casa’s phone number, designed so they can be kept at the bottom of a purse, away from the prying eyes of an abuser.
Our time at La Casa de Las Madres was a poignant reminder of how important it is to listen to, tell, and remember difficult stories. Domestic violence and abuse flourish in darkness, but as La Casa De Las Madres will attest, with education and exposure these learned behaviors can be countered, and eventually perhaps, eradicated.
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