Gabbie, Hubbard House Public Health Intern
As the severity of the COVID-19 virus began to sink in across the country and in our community, Hubbard House made the difficult decision to suspend all volunteer and intern activities, in order to reduce the exposure risk for the survivors and families we serve. While it’s the right decision and a necessary one to ensure everyone’s health and safety, it’s one that left me with a heavy heart. Working with survivors of domestic violence and their children has become a key part of my education, my practical work experience, and above all else, my passion.
I have been an intern at Hubbard House for several months, but I have gained experience and understanding that will last a lifetime. I was initially introduced to Hubbard House by a police officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. I remember being given Hubbard House information cards, after a call had been made to JSO by a neighbor who witnessed my ex-boyfriend being physically and emotionally abusive. It was a relief to know that I was not alone and that there was a way out. That simple action is what gave me my first inspiration to become a part of Hubbard House — I wanted to be a part of that relief for other survivors.
Hubbard House has given me the opportunity to meet incredibly strong survivors and their loving, kind children, who I may have never crossed paths with otherwise.
Now that I am unable to be there physically to supervise group sessions, administer child-risk assessments, and simply spend time playing with the children outdoors, I often find myself thinking about how things have changed for them so drastically and so quickly. Many aspects of the children’s routines (and everyone’s routines) have become disrupted due to the pandemic and the precautionary measures taken to ensure health and safety. Taking these steps are undoubtedly necessary, but the disruption of the routines of survivors can make adjusting to shelter life even more difficult. To help with that, the survivors and children at Hubbard House are still receiving life-saving and life-changing shelter and wrap-around services like counseling, group support, and education by the dedicated staff who continue to work diligently throughout this difficult time.
The children I have spent many hours with were accustomed to me being there during snack time, group sessions, and playground time. Children who have witnessed domestic violence at home may have trouble learning to trust and form relationships. Now that I have built that with these children and am suddenly not there, I have been concerned they may feel confused. Fortunately, Hubbard House staff understands the issues survivors and their children, especially, may be facing at this time. Multiple measures are being taken to ensure that the children have access to anything they need from personal amenities to group and individual counseling.
After the initial sadness and disappointment of reflecting on all of this overwhelmed me, I have now become more hopeful. The circumstances are not ideal for any of us at Hubbard House that much is certain. But I certainly am thankful that our residents have a safe, clean, and healthy environment to find refuge in during the trauma going on across the globe and in their own lives.
Although I cannot physically be there working directly with the children, I will continue to educate and bring awareness to our community about domestic violence and the effects it has on survivors and their children. It is both my passion and my responsibility to be an advocate for survivors and their children, and to be a voice for those who often feel voiceless. Writing this blog has allowed me to continue my efforts in helping survivors understand they are not alone. If I can help just one person, I have done my job.
Domestic violence is much more prevalent than we think, it is all around us: in music, video games, television, and for many, in our own homes. Domestic violence affects all of us in one way or another, and it is our collective responsibility to speak up and do something.
Hubbard House’s 24/7 hotline is still active to help survivors or individuals in the community who want to provide support. Our telephone hotline number is (904) 354-3114. Our text-only hotline is 904-210-3698. Hubbard House’s emergency shelter is also still providing life-changing, life-saving services for survivors and their children through the dedicated staff, even if we interns and volunteers remain on the sideline for now.
To the survivors and their children who I have formed relationships with during my time at Hubbard House: I think about you all every day and admire your strength — it is truly incomparable. I know things have been far from easy for you because of the abuse you’ve experienced, and unfortunately, for many of you I know things have recently become more complicated by this virus. I encourage everyone to remain positive, follow the safety precautions that have been put into place, and be kind to one another.
Personally, I want to thank all of the residents, staff, and my fellow volunteers and interns at Hubbard House for continuing to operate as a team throughout this difficult time. We can and we will overcome this together.