This blog post was written by Kim Crowley, a rising 4th year English Major & Marketing Minor at the University of Maine and Community Response & Prevention Team Intern at Partners for Peace.
In January, I began my Community Response & Prevention internship at Partners for Peace. I found myself drawn to the organization’s work due to my personal interest in women’s issues and desire to work in the nonprofit sector after I graduate from college.
However, I did not have the background in advocacy necessary to work with victims of domestic violence. Therefore, one of the first components of my internship included completing CAIRET training.
CAIRET stands for Core Comprehensive Advocacy, Intervention, Response, and Ethics Training. It is the curriculum used by the nine member domestic violence resource centers supported by the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence in order to train staff, volunteers, and interns like myself to staff the organizations’ 24-hour helplines. The helpline workers listen to every caller, exploring their situation and validating the emotions the caller may be going through. They then engage in safety planning and problem solving, connecting callers with resources best suited to their personal circumstances.
Coming into this training, I did not know what to expect. I am only a college student—an English major, of all things!—making me someone who has little prior knowledge of the realm of social work and the dynamics of domestic abuse. I admit, I was concerned that my inexperience would alienate me from the rest of the cohort or that the pace of the training and information might overwhelm me.
Thankfully, from the first day onward, all of my doubts were proven wrong.
Our cohort of trainees quickly bonded. We were a multigenerational mix, all hailing from different walks of life and possessing different levels of knowledge regarding domestic abuse. Yet there was an undeniable sense of camaraderie found between the fourteen of us and our two staff facilitators. This camaraderie was key in promoting an open atmosphere, where trainees felt comfortable discussing sensitive topics associated with abuse.
We all had our own goals regarding what we wanted to gain from the training experience. Some of us were staff members and interns developing a foundation in advocacy, while others were volunteers and community partners. Regardless, one thing was clear: everyone came to each session excited to obtain new understanding and learn from one another’s perspectives.
Beyond the positive group dynamic, one thing that really stood out to me about the CAIRET sessions was the quality and sequencing of the training structure. The CAIRET curriculum consists of 15 separate modules, studied over the course of eight weeks.
Each module was distinct enough to the point where we learned unique information every time we met; however, the connections between the sessions were clear, and new modules often built upon the knowledge gained from past modules. The pace of the information did not seem overwhelming or unmanageable to me.
All in all, I loved my CAIRET training experience! I feel like I have grown immensely in my own understandings of domestic abuse and personal confidence in becoming a helpline worker. Furthermore, I gained a bond with my fellow trainees that can only be formed by going through such a challenging, eye-opening, and ultimately positive experience together.
I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about domestic abuse or volunteering with Partners for Peace to get in touch our volunteer coordinator, Saul Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org), and request more information about our next Core Advocacy training or fill out a volunteer form here. We are always looking for new volunteers to help staff our helpline. The next training begins on June 16th with a subsequent training beginning in early September (specific dates to be announced). Both trainings will be dually-located in Bangor and Dover-Foxcroft. I urge you: don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity.